U.S. fiscal cliff turns into ‘perfect storm’ as March deadline looms

By January 16, 2013

USA (MNN) — We've been here before. I recognize that tree. Do you remember the U.S. fiscal cliff we talked about in December?

On January 1, Congress took the so-called "first step" away from the fiscal cliff. While charitable donations weren't capped or completely cut out, they reduced the amount that could be claimed by higher-income Americans. In addition, many Bush-era tax cuts were made permanent, and federal benefits for unemployment were extended another year.

Food for the Hungry (FH) president Dave Evans says this isn't the type of progress America needed.

"The January 1 decision was simply a stop-gap measure," says Evans. "Unfortunately, there's still a lot of hard work left ahead.

"Although we were excited about the measures that were adopted because at least…we didn't go over the cliff on December 31, there are these three things that conspire together now that could end up being a perfect storm."

According to Evans, those three elements include the debt ceiling, across-the-board cuts to federally-funded programs, and the government's budget. Since Congress failed to put together a budget for 2013, they're using last year's budget — which expires at the end of March.

"The only thing they really did in the end of December was to deal with the tax rates," Evans continues. "But really, what remains…is a lot of the hard work."

One of the big concerns for FH, Evans says, is the funding assistance they receive from the U.S. government for their programs overseas.

"Some of those programs that we're operating right now could be jeopardized with this next round of discussions," states Evans.

The programs facing funding cuts, like FH's feeding programs and anti-poverty initiatives, make a life-or-death difference for people around the world. Not only does FH help meet physical needs, they introduce the hope of the Gospel, too, resulting in transformed people and communities. Click here to see where they're working.

"These are the people who, with the help of U.S. private funding as well as foreign assistance, are starting to see solid economic, social, and health gains for the poor majority living there," Evans said in a January 10 blog post.

"If the American people lose tax incentives to give to the poor, and the U.S. government slashes aid to these same people, many of these gains will be reversed."

One-half of one percent of the federal budget goes to help the poor around the world through groups like FH.

Evans says when "we think about tithing to the Lord's work, 10% often we give to church work. One-half of one percent is all our government 'tithes' to help those in need outside of our boundaries."

What happens if that portion, however small, is cut from the federal budget?

"Additional money from the private sector is really needed in order to be able to help folks in need in all the countries that we work in," Evans explains.

With charitable deductions still on the table and fiscal storm clouds looming overhead, your prayers are needed for America. Pray for God's hand to be on the federal government, says Evans.

"This is such a critical time in our nation, so just [pray] for God's hand to be moving, for the Holy Spirit to be moving," he requests.

"We also would ask you to contact your Congressional representatives and Senators, and just let your voice be heard regarding these issues as we head toward March."

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