Prosperity Now’s Federal Advocacy Campaigns Make Progress in a Difficult Policy Environment
In January, Prosperity Now launched four new campaigns to advocate for policy priorities with the most significant impact for working families. Many of these policies are currently under threat in Washington. In the months since this Congress and the President took office, more than a thousand of you have joined our campaigns and taken action for working families—for which we are immensely grateful.
As we look to what’s next inside and outside the Beltway, we wanted to share a brief summary of each campaign’s focus, including the highs and lows for each issue area and what to expect in the coming months.
One of the hardest losses was the recent announcement that the Assets for Independence (AFI) program was defunded in the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill. Despite a nearly year-long advocacy effort by the field to restore funding for AFI when it was cut from the Senate’s FY17 appropriation bill last year, the program didn’t survive the difficult funding environment. The President’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 also includes deep cuts to many important safety net programs like SNAP, Medicaid and TANF. With your help, Prosperity Now has already begun to push back against these cuts, and we continue to call for restored funding to the AFI program in FY18.
Tax reform is one of the key priorities of this Administration and Congress. While they have released few details (and made little progress) thus far, their plans would include a massive wealth transfer to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of the country. The tax code is already deeply skewed toward benefiting the rich. Rather than making this upside-down system even more unfair, Congress should turn it right-side up so all workers have access to wealth-building opportunities. Prosperity Now will be advocating for right-side up tax reform in the coming months, and we urge you to join us in this fight.
One bright spot in this area—and an important example of what your advocacy can accomplish—was the introduction of the VITA Permanence Act earlier this year. This bipartisan legislation would permanently authorize the VITA program and would provide the field with greater certainty about its long-term viability. We will continue to advocate for the passage of this bill in the coming months.
Both the Administration and Congress have made clear that they oppose the Wall Street reforms and financial regulations enacted during the Obama Administration. One of their key objectives is to severely weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), despite the numerous actions the Bureau has taken over the past five plus years to protect consumers, including returning $12 billion in relief to 29 million Americans harmed by the wrongful practices of financial institutions. The House of Representatives will likely soon pass The Financial CHOICE Act of 2017, which would leave countless families and everyday consumers exposed to a host of predatory financial practices and services. The fight will then move to the Senate, where we will need your help to stop any of these damaging changes from becoming law.
One positive note here is that Congress attempted to roll back important protections related to prepaid cards for consumers that were enacted by the CFPB, but they failed – thanks to your advocacy efforts.
The President’s budget proposal would deeply cut funding to a number of organizations and programs that are important to working families, including those related to housing and homeownership like NeighborWorks America. Congress has also introduced bills that undermine fair housing and manufactured homeownership. Specifically, the Senate introduced a bill (S. 103) that would strike down the duty to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing regulations passed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the House introduced a bill that would limit the number of manufactured housing mortgages covered by important consumer protections, such as H.R. 1699. Prosperity Now will push back against cuts to these important programs and work to halt these bills that would make the already difficult path to homeownership even harder for working families.
It has been an action-packed 2017, and there’s much more to be done. Protecting working families in this climate will be a marathon, not a sprint, and the victories we’ve described above prove that by working and advocating together, we can make a difference. The path to success requires that we coordinate and amplify our voices together. For that reason, if you haven’t already done so, please join one or more of our advocacy campaigns (linked above) and stand with us in this fight.
Thank you for your advocacy on behalf of working families.