Deal undercuts an already shrinking share of spending on kids

First Focus on Children President Bruce Lesley released the following statement in response to the debt-ceiling deal making its way to the House floor:

“We are relieved that the nation seems to be on a path to avoid default and its disastrous economic consequences. But make no mistake: The process led to a legislative proposal that harms children. This proposal is short-sighted, unfair and fiscally irresponsible. Many of our lawmakers claim to be addressing the debt for the sake of our children and grandchildren. Yet, this bill disproportionately will cut investments in our children’s health, safety and well-being and will instead increase funding for defense and protect many of the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations against paying their fair share for the good of the country.

Our nation’s budget process already greatly disadvantages children and this agreement reached by the Administration and House leaders only makes things worse for them, their families and our nation’s future. Even before this bill, First Focus on Children and members of our Children’s Budget Coalition identified the many unique, unmet needs of our nation’s children and the harmful spending trends that have created a rapidly declining share of federal investments in them.

Children are not faring well right now. Their mortality rates are rising. The improved Child Tax Credit, which lifted millions out of poverty, has expired. Millions more may lose health care coverage through the Medicaid unwinding process, and will continue to face crises in our education, early childhood, and child care systems created by decades of disinvestment. Now is when Congress should be investing in our children, not targeting them for cuts.

As President Biden and Congress move forward in the debates over taxes, the appropriations process, and the Farm Bill, First Focus on Children calls on them to recognize the significant threats facing our nation’s children and to make them a priority in all federal policy and budget decisions.”

Research shows that targeting children stands in sharp contrast to what the American people want. In a May 2022 poll by First Focus on Children with Lake Research Partners, voters clearly demonstrated by wide margins that they believe we are already spending too little rather than too much on children. A recent poll by the advocacy organization Zero-To-Three finds that an overwhelming majority of voters wants children to be a greater priority in the federal budget.