Federal Fiscal Policy Agenda

Introduction

Federal fiscal policy is the primary tool used by Congress and the Administration to address critical societal problems.  Fiscal policy has and is being wielded with force in an effort to address the current economic crisis in the financial services and other industries.  So too, federal fiscal policy can and should be used to decisively address the crises facing people with disabilities and their families. UCP supports full and adequate funding for the program services and supports that are needed to enable people with disabilities and their families to be fully included in society.

Reductions in federal entitlement spending threaten our constituents.  Changes at the state level could also jeopardize our constituents.  Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are major targets to secure deficit reduction.  Many proposed reductions or modifications to these vital programs will adversely affect our constituents.  Since Medicaid finances lifesaving health care and long term supports for most of our vulnerable constituency who receive supports, their futures are inextricably linked to any shift in Medicaid policy – at either the federal or state level.  The very lives of our constituents are at stake in these policy deliberations.  Some of the changes that have been proposed to the Social Security system, such as reduced benefits and higher retirement dates, could have a devastating impact on beneficiaries.

Federal fiscal policy is also critical because state funding is often based on the amount of federal money available.  When federal funding for programs is cut, state funding rarely increases to make up the difference, and services to our constituents will be reduced, if not eliminated.  The loss of federal stimulus funding to states is expected to further exacerbate the states’ ability to maintain their Medicaid program.  The pressure on states to cut back or eliminate Medicaid services is immense.

Like most Americans, we support the need for a strong economy.  However, a truly strong and secure nation can only be achieved if:

  • Federal funding decisions and tax policy do not result in a federal budget that is crafted at the expense of people with disabilities;
  • Services, supports, and benefits critical to the well-being of people with disabilities and their families are protected, improved, and expanded while preserving the principles of independence, choice, and self-determination; and
  • When needed, the federal government leads or assists states in being fair and efficient in carrying out their responsibilities to people with disabilities and their families.

 

Budget, Entitlements, and Appropriations

UCP promotes cost-effectiveness when such efforts do no harm to our constituents and allow them to live as independently as possible in the community.

Congress sets annual fiscal policy by:

1.  Adopting a budget resolution that sets annual revenue and spending limits.  The budget resolution is the blueprint for discretionary and entitlement spending;

2.  Adopting annual appropriations bills which set spending levels for the many discretionary programs; and

3.  Enacting a reconciliation bill requiring relevant committees to revise tax policy and entitlement spending (such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and Food Stamps) to comply with the budget resolution.

The combination of these three major fiscal actions determines the actual funding for all disability benefits, programs and services for the year.