Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, has warned Congress that any debt ceiling deal that calls for reduced federal aid programs would have devastating effects on Black communities.
In an open letter to Congress, Johnson also stated that an expansion of work requirements "must be resoundingly rejected.”
“Any legislator who is proposing cuts to crucial programs is neglecting the oath they swore to the American people. The fact of the matter is, these so-called leaders are more focused on protecting greedy corporate interests than serving their constituents,” Johnson told BET.com
"The NAACP demands that Congress pass a clean debt ceiling increase and make deeper investments in - not cuts to - programs like Medicaid, school lunches, and Pell grants. Anything short of that is a failure that Black America will not stand for,” he added. “The time to act is now. Do your jobs. “
Johnson expressed his gratitude to the Biden Administration for enacting policies that has advanced the economic potential of the Black community.
“Thanks to actions by the Biden Administration and historic investments made by the last Congress, we have come closer than ever as a nation to closing the unacceptable gap between white and Black unemployment,” Johnson wrote. “We must not cede these hard-fought gains to the economic drag of deep federal spending cuts. Independent analyses have shown, for example, that the recent House-passed legislation would actually cut projected GDP growth in half and increase the likelihood of a recession.”
Patrice Willoughby, Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Impact noted cutting programs for those who need them will produce disastrous results.
"The current debt ceiling proposal would result in extreme regression on recent gains in racial and economic equity," Willoughby explained to BET.com. "Let’s be clear - these proposed programming cuts represent a direct attack on Black lives and livelihoods."
“Disinvestment in American progress is not necessary to raise the debt ceiling and should be resoundingly rejected by any elected leader who is invested in the future of our nation. We will not go back," Willoughby continued. "It’s our time to thrive."
While negotiations are still ongoing, President Joe Biden has pledged that cuts that could dramatically increase poverty for working-class Americans such as cutting SNAP funding were off the table.
“The House Republican wish list would put a million older adults at risk of losing their food assistance and going hungry,” Biden said in a tweet. “Rather than push Americans into poverty, we should reduce the deficit by making sure the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes.”
Biden also stated that he would not implement work requirements that could possibly impact the “medical health needs of people.”
Concluding his letter, Johnson said that the same lawmakers who supported the Black Lives Matter movement now have an opportunity to keep vulnerable Black Americans from the brink of economic disaster.
"The nation, especially Black America, is watching," Johnson wrote.
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