The deficit reduction talks in Congress are targeting Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other vital programs serving millions of families, children, and seniors. The Republican leadership has rejected increasing taxes, and insists that deficit reduction must come exclusively from cuts in spending.

The proposed five percent cuts to Medicaid, the program which provides medical coverage to low income people, will result in reduced pay to doctors and hospitals, more physicians leaving the program, the denial of coverage or increased costs to many poor people, and the loss of about 250,000 jobs in 2011. Compare that to the 18,000 jobs that were created nationally last month.

The recently passed House appropriations bill would drop food aid next year for 300,000-450,000 children and pregnant women, deny employment and job training services to more than 8 million workers, and cut Pell grants for 1.4 million low-income college students.

Our federal budget reflects our values, one could even say the soul of our nation. Do these cuts for health care, food, jobs and education for low income people reflect your values?

We accomplish deficit reductions in other ways. We can cut our military spending, which currently takes up more than half of our federal income tax dollars. We can cut subsidies for the oil and gas industries and other large corporations.

We can raise taxes on the wealthiest 400 people whose effective tax rate was only 18.1 percent in 2008. We can also raise taxes on large corporations and tax the speculation of the megabanks that destroyed the world economy in 2008. We can crack down on offshore tax havens and abusive tax shelters.

Today is a national call-in day to the U.S. Senate regarding budget deficit reduction. Please call Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet toll-free at 888-907-1485, and tell them to oppose harmful cuts to low/moderate-income programs and instead to raise taxes on the wealthy and large corporations and to reduce wasteful military spending.

Carolyn Bninski is an associate of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center.

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