Fiscal Cliff Averted…For Now; Farm Bill Extended to September
Just after the New Year’s deadline that brought the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts and left the nation dangling on the edge of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Congress and the White House came to an agreement. The measure includes permanent income tax increases for most people with incomes above $400,000, and set in stone the lower Bush-era tax rates for most individuals and households with incomes below that amount. The fiscal-cliff deal also postpones sequestered cuts to discretionary federal programs to March 1. This plan essentially buys Congress two more months to work on a legislative package to achieve the greater levels of deficit reduction required to fully avert the deep discretionary spending cuts required by sequestration. Unfortunately, this last-minute deal does not resolve our long-term revenue or spending challenges, nor protect children’s programs in any meaningful way. We will continue to monitor this issue closely and report on progress.
The Farm Bill, which was tied up with the fiscal cliff negotiations after Congress failed to reauthorize a comprehensive policy earlier in 2012, was extended to Sept. 30, 2013 as part of the deal to avert the fiscal cliff. Under this short-term extension, current policy and funding levels for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program carry forward. Policymakers now have nine months to reform and develop the policies that will guide U.S. agricultural and nutritional programs under a new Farm Bill. The Children’s Campaign will continue working with partners to urge Congress to protect and strengthen the SNAP and other provisions of the Farm Bill that encourage and support access to a nutritious diet for all families.