The following testimony was delivered March 7 at a hearing of the Connecticut State Legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee on a resolution memorializing Congress to oppose budget cuts in vital domestic programs. The author offers it as an example, to encourage readers in other states to take similar initiatives.

The Connecticut General Assembly has no choice but to raise its voice against the devastating impact on the people of our state from potential federal budget cuts. Hopefully other state and municipal elected officials are doing the same.

Numbers alone never tell the story. Everyone was taken aback at a recent public hearing of the city of New Haven Peace Commission, when the department directors of housing and community services spoke of “the most horrific cuts in 30 years,” and described the crisis being visited upon low-income families.

There is much that could and must be done within our state to end the scandal of “two Connecticuts” — one for the super wealthy and the other for the majority who are struggling to make ends meet.

But without adequate federal funding we cannot achieve a healthy “one Connecticut,” and economic and racial inequality will increase. As in most states, the failure of the federal budget to properly fund basic needs has created a permanent crisis. The president’s budget includes new, deep cuts and spending caps for health care, public education, environment, veterans, homeland security, food stamps, rental assistance, home energy assistance, child care and aid to cities and towns.

Connecticut would lose $250 million, supposedly to reduce the federal deficit. But the federal deficit could be reduced 10 times more by repealing the tax cuts for the wealthy (incomes over $200,000), which equal up to $2.5 billion a year in Connecticut alone (source: Citizens for Tax Justice). The federal deficit could be reduced another 10 times as much by ending the war in Iraq, of which Connecticut’s share is $2.5 billion a year (source: National Priorities Project).

The proposed cuts in human needs do not resolve the federal deficit. Like the proposed privatization of Social Security, the cuts are part of a bigger agenda to roll back and eliminate all social programs for the benefit of Wall Street. This inhumane and immoral course of action, which threatens our security, must be rejected.

In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln defined our government as “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

If the cuts to vital social programs are not halted, it will be time for the elected officials and people of Connecticut to join with the people and elected officials of other states and hold a massive March on Washington. It is no longer possible to turn away and ignore the needs of the working families and communities of our state and nation.

Joelle Fishman (joelle.fishman @ pobox.com) is chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA.

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