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Video: Vote Kids puts pressure on 2012 candidates to keep social programs in place

A group hoping to make the welfare of America’s children a national political priority is up with television advertisements in Iowa and New Hampshire that directly ask residents of the first contest states to hold 2012 presidential hopefuls accountable.

Vote Kids, a nonprofit created in 2002, wants voters to tell those running for or considering running for president in 2012 to invest in and not cut programs that benefit children and families.

Watch the 30-second spot, “A or B,” that is appearing in Iowa this week:

“We want to bring attention to how children will be harmed as a result of federal budget proposals which already passed the House of Representatives,” said Michael Petite, president of Vote Kids.

“The so-called Ryan budget slashes programs vital to children and families, including Head Start, child care, public safety, child nutrition, education, Pell Grants, Community and Development Block Grants and jobs programs. These are shortsighted actions that would weaken America’s global economic competitiveness, which is why we want kids’ issues to be a prominent part of the debate in the forthcoming presidential campaign.”

According to the organization, the budget authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and approved by the U.S. House would convert Medicaid into block grants and result in $1.4 trillion in cuts, while doing nothing to reduce health care costs. These cuts would affect the 30 million children nationwide served by Medicaid, including some 224,616 children served in Iowa.

The House plan also calls for cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program by $127 billion, or 20 percent, over the next ten years. Millions of families would be affected, Petit said, leading to increased hunger and poverty. In Iowa, 111,610 children rely on food stamps, 147,839 receive free and reduced price lunches at school, and almost 9,000 are in the Summer Food Service Program.

While cutting health care and nutrition programs for working families and children, the Ryan Budget gives those Americans earning more than $1 million an additional $125,000 yearly tax break.

The Vote Kids’ ad asks viewers what choices they would make if they were in charge of America’s budget and to urge the presidential candidates streaming through Iowa in the months ahead to support smart policies for kids:

Ad Transcript & Footnotes Script Footnotes If you were in charge of America’s budget, would you cut: School nutrition programs? or Tax breaks for multi-millionaires? The House Budget would reduce school and other nutrition programs “by capping the open-ended federal subsidy” starting in 2015 (“Path to Prosperity”, page 41).The House Budget also brings down the top tax rate from 35% to 25% (“Path to Prosperity”, page 50). It claims to “close loopholes” but those are not specified Pre-school programs? or Subsidies for big oil companies? The House Budget would reduce spending on pre-school programs, such as Head Start, by bringing appropriations levels back to 2008 and holding that steady for five years (“Path to Prosperity”, page 29). Head Start will receive a $7.575 billion in appropriations in fiscal year 2011. If rolled back to 2008 funding levels, the program would receive a $700 million cut before accounting for inflation (Department of Health and Human Services, Head Start Bureau). Facilities would either close or lower enrollment as a result.The House voted on May 5th to protect tax subsidies for oil and gas companies by a 241-171 margin. (“House GOP Blocks Vote on Oil Subsidies”, Benjy Sarlin, Talking Points Memo College loans for students? or Special deals for companies that ship American jobs overseas? The House Budget would “Return Pell grants to their pre-stimulus levels”. For the 2010-2011 school year 2011, the maximum Pell Grant award is set at $5,550. For the 2008-2009 school year, the maximum award was set at $4,791. College students would receive a cut of at least $800 with no guarantee their school would lower tuition to accommodate for this reduction. Some politicians want to cut kid’s programs while protecting corporate giveaways and tax breaks for the rich. The House Budget passed by a 235-193 margin (Roll Call Vote 277, 4/15/2011) Tell the Presidential Candidates to protect America’s Kids – and the programs that protect them. Although this isn’t Vote Kids’ first foray into national politics, the organization does appear to be the first to begin a campaign in the first contest states in hopes of driving a national conversation.

In 2006, the organization ran two campaigns spotlighting the records of former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) and U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.). During an after-poll in Arizona, the organization’s ads were remembered by voters and, more importantly, most voters reported caring about and acting upon the very issues raised in the Vote Kids campaign.

The organization also maintains an Iowa scorecard on issues important to children and families.

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