The “Fiscal Cliff”: What Is It, and What Does It Mean for Me?
Ernest Hopkins, director of legislative affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, answers these questions in the latest issue of Status, the foundation’s monthly newsletter. Check out the excerpt below, and get the full Q&A at sfaf.org.
What is the “fiscal cliff?”
The fiscal cliff is a term used to describe the confluence of serious budgetary decisions that must be addressed by government in order to avoid dramatic consequences. If Congress does nothing, cuts mandated by the failure of the Joint Congressional Budget Committee to reach an agreement will go into effect at the beginning of January 2013. Sequestration, as the cuts are called, was never really designed to be enacted. It was viewed as a “poison pill” incentive to avoid a mutually unacceptable outcome for both parties. If it is enacted, sequestration would result in dramatic cuts to both defense and non-defense discretionarily funded programs.
Why should we be concerned about it?
The HIV/AIDS program portfolio is entirely funded through discretionary federal funding that is determined annually by Congress. The cuts proposed to discretionary budgets would automatically impact all program line items threatening to oust thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS from many of our most important and effective programs like the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), housing assistance, and medical care through Ryan White. HIV prevention programs at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and thousands of research projects at the National Institutes of Health also face cuts or elimination….