The following letter was sent to the U.S. House and Senate regarding the "Fiscal Cliff," taxes and the budget. Members of the LWVUS Lobby Corps will also visit select offices on the Hill with the following message. The League urges Congress to provide a long-term solution by substantially increasing revenue, protecting the social safety net, reducing defense spending and carefully managing the deficit.

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November 15, 2012

To:                   Members of the U.S. Congress

From:               Elisabeth MacNamara, President

Re:                   The “Fiscal Cliff,” Taxes and the Budget

Congress now has an historic opportunity to set federal fiscal policy on a fair and stable path.  While avoiding the spending and tax changes scheduled for January 1 is important, it is much more important to provide a long-term solution by substantially increasing revenue, protecting the social safety net, reducing defense spending and carefully managing the deficit.  The League of Women Voters strongly urges you not to miss this opportunity.

Congress must restore a fair and progressive tax system in order to provide needed revenue and ensure social equity.  We urge you to allow tax cuts that benefit only the richest two percent to expire on schedule, which would provide nearly $1 trillion.

The League also supports an effective estate tax, ending special treatment of capital gains and dividends, and increasing the maximum for Social Security tax withholding.  Securing substantial new revenue from those with the greatest ability to contribute will allow our nation to meet reasonable deficit reduction goals, invest in education and infrastructure and protect the programs that meet basic human needs.

Long-term deficit reduction is an important goal, but it is also vital to recognize that deficit spending is appropriate and effective for stimulating the economy during recession, meeting social needs in times of high unemployment, and meeting defense needs in times of national security crises.  Over the last several years, and still today, our nation faces these problems.  Early deficit reduction must not overtake the need for establishing economic growth and meeting vital needs.  The Bowles-Simpson proposal, for example, cuts the deficit well beyond what is needed to stabilize the deficit over the long term.

Any budget agreement must protect basic social spending.  Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and essential services for low-income people must be maintained. Millions of seniors, children, people with disabilities and others depend on these programs and they should not be cut.

Today, more than 20 million people are in need of full-time work, and unemployment continues to hover around 8 percent.  With the current state of the economy, our nation must have a truly balanced approach to spending and taxes.

The League of Women Voters urges you to support a new direction for federal fiscal policy, one that recognizes the importance of a fair tax system, one that provides for social needs, and one that will carefully manage the deficit and the economy.

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