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Are Children a Priority in the Federal Budget?

As summer winds down and Congress gets ready to reconvene, talk of the federal budget has begun to heat up again. The current federal budget is set to expire on September 30, 2013 and the debt ceiling is expected to be reached by mid-October. Both of these deadlines are likely to set off big battles in Congress over spending and tax priorities.

Pages from ChildrensBudget2013First Focus, a national children’s organization, recently released Children’s Budget 2013, a detailed guide offering five-year funding data for more than 180 federal investments in children. This report examines the recent spending levels for programs that benefit our nation’s children, with some surprising findings:

• Federal spending on children’s programs has fallen by 16 percent since 2010.
• The total portion of all federal budget spent on children’s programs is only 8%. The total spending on defense related programs is three times as much.
• Sequestration this year was responsible for cutting over $4 billion from children’s programs.

President Obama has introduced a budget that increases spending on children’s programs by 4%, primarily by restoring the cuts in the sequester. On the other hand, the budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would likely cut over $100 billion from programs that help and protect our nation’s children.

America needs to increase our investment in children. As two research economists from the Federal Reserve Banks point out:

“Compared with the billions of dollars spent each year on questionable economic development schemes, we think investment in early childhood is a far better and more promising economic development tool.…Not only will these efforts benefit children and families, they will benefit the taxpaying public and the national economy.”

Post by: Joshua Oehler – Research Associate


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