Federal budget cuts affect us all


To the editor:

The federal budget process can often seem distant and convoluted. However, the upcoming budget decisions could have a profound impact on the Bronx and our own 15th Congressional District.

To avoid potential crises that would ensue from reaching the current debt ceiling, Congress needs to raise the limit. Some members of Congress are calling for significant budget cuts to lower spending in exchange for raising that limit. Sounds reasonable.

But the devil is in the details.

Specific proposals on the table will reduce funding for Medicaid, affordable housing subsidies, and anti-hunger programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as SNAP and WIC. These cuts would be an enormous burden on communities throughout the Bronx, including the 15th Congressional District.

The population of the District is just over 730,000, and remains the poorest congressional district in the United States with 33 percent of the population below the poverty level, 45 percent of households receiving SNAP, and 51 percent of residents relying on Medicaid.         

As for subsidized housing, data for the 15th is difficult to parse out specifically given the myriad kinds of subsidies available: Section 8, 202 Senior Housing, tax credits, supportive housing, and more.

In 2019, more than 34 percent of Bronx renter households were considered severely rent burdened, paying more than 30 percent of income on rent.

Thus, it is safe to say that subsidized housing remains a critical need in our district.      

It should be noted that the proposals do not include reversing recent, costly tax breaks for the very wealthy, nor a critical examination of the ever-expanding military budget. Taken together, this all means balancing the budget on the backs of the poorest among us.

Is that who we are and what we aspire to be? I doubt it.

All people of goodwill must oppose this approach and demand a better outcome for us all.

Lois Harr

SNAP, debt limit, Congress, WIC, poverty, Lois Harr