Strengthening the Economy for the LGBT Community
The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget demonstrates that we can make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way.
The President believes we must invest in the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising and thriving middle class. He is focused on addressing three fundamental questions: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do the jobs of the 21st Century? How do we make sure hard work leads to a decent living? The Budget presents the President’s plan to address each of these questions.
To make America once again a magnet for jobs, the Budget invests in high-tech manufacturing and innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure, while cutting red tape to help businesses grow. To give workers the skills they need to compete in the global economy, it invests in education from pre-school to job training. To ensure hard work is rewarded, it raises the minimum wage to $9 an hour so a hard day’s work pays more.
The Budget does all of these things as part of a comprehensive plan that reduces the deficit and puts the Nation on a sound fiscal course. Every new initiative in the plan is fully paid for, so they do not add a single dime to the deficit. The Budget also incorporates the President’s compromise offer to House Speaker Boehner to achieve another $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction in a balanced way. When combined with the deficit reduction already achieved, this will allow us to exceed the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, while growing the economy and strengthening the middle class. By including this compromise proposal in the Budget, the President is demonstrating his willingness to make tough choices and his seriousness about finding common ground to further reduce the deficit.
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To strengthen the economy for the LGBT community, the 2014 Budget will:
Improve Access to Services under the Violence Against Women Act. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) signed by President Obama on March 7 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in VAWA funded programs and improves access to services in the STOP grant program. The Budget includes $412.5 million in Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women grants and assistance to support victims of violence, including LGBT victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement. Even in tough budget times, the substantial investments that have been made by the Administration to strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, disability, religious, gender, and gender identity discrimination continue in the 2014 Budget. The Budget provides $12.5 million, a 9 percent increase over the 2012 enacted level, for the Community Relations Service in the Department of Justice to fight hate crimes and provides a $13 million, or 3 percent, increase over the 2012 enacted level for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing Federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This investment will allow EEOC to add staff to reduce the agency’s backlog of private-sector discrimination charges, including gender discrimination charges.
Increase Funding for Homeless Assistance Grants. The Budget provides $2.4 billion -- $480 million above the FY 2012 enacted level -- for Homeless Assistance Grants. The request allows HUD to renew all existing assistance, as well as provide $60 million for new targeted rapid re-housing and $40 million for new permanent supportive housing, serving an additional 30,000 people. This $100 million funding increase will primarily be administered by nonprofits, and helps make progress toward ending homelessness by supporting the goals of Opening Doors: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness.
Make Communities Safer by Reducing Gun Violence. We can protect our Second Amendment rights while coming together around reforms like background checks to make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun—common-sense reforms that will help protect our citizens from the scourge of gun violence that has plagued too many communities across the country. On January 16th, 2013, the President announced his gun safety initiative which consisted of several legislative measures now currently under consideration by the Congress and numerous executive actions, most which are already well underway. The 2014 Budget includes $667 million in additional resources to help implement the President’s gun safety plan which includes closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence; making schools safer; and increasing access to mental health services.
Maintain Affordable High-Quality Primary and Preventive Care. Health centers are a key component of the Nation’s health care safety net. These sites offer comprehensive, high quality, primary and preventive health care services to all Americans regardless of ability to pay. As insurance coverage is expanded through the Affordable Care Act, Health Centers will continue to be a critical element of the health system, including for the LGBT community. To ensure that health centers continue to provide critical access and services to millions of Americans, the Budget continues to fully support all existing health center sites and includes sufficient funding to open a minimum of 40 new health centers in areas in the country where they do not currently exist. There are over 8,000 health center sites across the country that provide services to over 20 million people.
Reform our Immigration System. The President’s plan for common-sense immigration reform would continue investments in border security, crack down on companies that hire undocumented workers, improve the legal immigration system for employment-sponsored and family-sponsored immigrants, and establish a responsible pathway to earned citizenship. The plan would require anyone who is undocumented to pay their taxes and a penalty, move to the back of the line, learn English, and undergo background checks.
A Pathway to Earned Citizenship. The President’s proposal would provide a provisional status to the millions of individuals living here illegally by creating a responsible pathway that could ultimately lead to a green card and citizenship. All applicants would be required to pass national security and criminal background checks, pay taxes, fees and penalties, learn English, and get in the back of the line behind those waiting in the legal immigration system to become eligible for citizenship.
Expand Access to HIV/AIDS Treatment, Care, and Prevention. The Budget expands access to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment activities and supports the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce HIV incidence; increase access to care and optimizing health outcomes for people living with HIV; and reduce HIV-related health disparities. By providing resources for Affordable Care Act implementation, the Budget will support increased health care coverage for thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS. The Budget increases funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program by $20 million, including an additional $10 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to ensure that individuals living with HIV can access their medications and an additional $10 million for HIV medical clinics to expand access to care and improve systems for connecting individuals to care, and retaining them in care over time. The Budget includes an increase of $10 million for CDC HIV/ AIDS prevention activities to expand surveillance activities and improve timeliness of data. The Budget also redirects $40 million from less effective activities to support a new $40 million initiative to improve systems that link persons recently diagnosed with HIV to care.
Support Federal Employee Domestic Partner Benefits. The Budget proposes a change to the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program that would create a new “self plus one” option for FEHB coverage for Federal employees. Same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees would be among those eligible to receive coverage under this new option. This proposal would align the FEHB program with best practices in the private sector as larger employers competing for talent are increasingly offering domestic partner benefits. The Administration also continues to support the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which provides the same benefits to same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees as those provided to married heterosexual partners of Federal employees, including not only health insurance, but also survivor annuities, compensation for work-related injuries, travel and relocation benefits, life insurance, and vision and dental benefits. In addition, the Administration has also, to the extent permissible by current law, expanded benefits for same-sex partners of Federal employees.