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The Proposed Federal Budget: Tax Cuts For The Wealthy On The Backs Of Babies

November 10, 2017

If we believe that the federal budget is a reflection of our values and priorities as a nation, then we may soon look like a nation that cares little about the future of our most defenseless children. As discussed at the November 8 Center for American Progress panel discussion, Protecting the Youngest Americans: What’s at Stake for Infants and Toddlers in the Budget Fight, the proposed 2018 federal budget seeks to deeply cut or eliminate many of the programs that cover millions of children’s most basic needs—all to provide tax cuts for the wealthy. Children birth to five are uniquely vulnerable to these proposed cuts, but they largely have been left out of the budget conversation.

The proposed budget decimates the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Women, Infants, and Children Program, affordable housing, and healthcare, and completely eliminates the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. The absence of these programs can lead to toxic stress in young children which, unlike manageable stress, refers to the long-term changes in brain architecture and organ systems that develop after extreme, prolonged, and repeated stress goes untreated. Exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as toxic stress may put our children at higher risk for learning difficulties, emotional problems, developmental issues and long-term health problems.

That this budget plan is even being proposed is particularly infuriating given the complete failure of a similar plan in Kansas. The state’s 2012 tax overhaul was heralded as a model for the nation, with a number of provisions later adapted for the national tax plans proposed by many Republicans. But even deeply conservative Kansas found the approach austere, leaving analysts from the left and the right to name the plan “the worst in the nation.” This year, the Republican-controlled Legislature rejected the tax-cutting experiment.

Kansas proved that the well-being of our children is a bipartisan issue. The current administration needs to be reminded of this. Parents and early childhood advocates need to speak up on behalf of our children, who can’t speak up for themselves. We must continue to point to the science of early brain development that proves the impact of early experiences on lifelong health and well-being. We can also argue that early care and education outlay offers one of the greatest returns on investment. In fact, putting money into early care and education is the only way to ensure a prosperous and sustainable society.

Go here or here to help prevent tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of our youngest children.

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