Put a fork in the fiscal cliff already. . .but it's worth paying attention to

Dec 11, 2012

Credit 4Elevenimages / flickr

Yes, I too am incredibly sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff. The fact that negotiations don't seem to be going anywhere and that we're all just waiting for Congress to do something does make it hard to care.

But then I tell myself that if we do go over the cliff it could be the single biggest federal government action affecting low-income families since welfare reform, and I have to care.

So if it's going down what should you know? One resource is the Urban Institutes' Fiscal Cliff Toolkit. It's a guide that in plain language explains some of the cuts to entitlement programs being talked about. The  Urban Institute comes from left-of-center, so for those of you looking for another perspective the Heritage Foundation has put together something similar.  

Most of the talk now is about Medicare and Social Security, because those are the big ticket items. But, as negotiations move forward, listen closely for talk about some things that could really impact low income kids. There is talk of inclusion of the Farm Bill and food stamp spending. There is also chatter about Medicaid moving to a block grant program administered by the states. In the past, turning federal programs into state run block grant programs has led to more restrictions and fewer people getting benefits.