Take a Peek at the President’s Trip

President Barack Obama is greeted by Israeli President Shimon Peres and members of Hora, a local children's dance troupe, upon his arrival at the President's residence in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama is greeted by Israeli President Shimon Peres and members of Hora, a local children’s dance troupe, upon his arrival at the President’s residence in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

It’s President Obama’s second day in the Middle East, during the first foreign trip of his second term. While in the region, he’s met with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and today he addressed the Israeli people from Jerusalem, where he spoke about the future of the region: “That is where peace begins – not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people.”

See photos and videos from President Obama’s trip to the Middle East.

In Case You Missed It

Here are some of the top stories from the White House blog:

President Obama Tells Israeli People: The U.S Is Proud to Be “Your Strongest Ally and Your Greatest Friend” The first stop on President Obama’s trip to the Middle East marks the first time the President has visited Israel since taking office, and comes as its citizens celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel.

Reaffirming the Incredible Bond Between the United States and Ireland President Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the White House before heading to the Capitol for a St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon.

Health Care Law 3rd Anniversary: Paying for Quality Saves Health Care Dollars On the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius lays out some of the ways in which the health reform has lowered costs.

Tell your Senators to vote Yes on the Murray budget

National Women's Law Center
Take Action: Write your Senators today!
                Urge your Senators to vote for the Murray budget.
Take Action

In a matter of days, the Senate is going to vote on a budget that we can believe in.
A budget that would give more children access to early learning, protect Social Security and most core safety net programs, expand access to affordable health insurance, end the sequester’s arbitrary program cuts, and improve tax fairness.
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, did her part by developing a budget that stands in stark contrast to the devastating Ryan budget. Now it’s our turn to stand up for a better budget for women and families.
Please take two minutes to tell your Senators to vote YES on the Murray budget.
Need a reason to take action? We have five of them!
Senator Patty Murray’s budget would:

  • Increase investments in early learning and home visiting programs, giving more children access to prekindergarten, child care, Head Start and Early Head Start opportunities.
  • Protect Social Security and most core safety net programs, including SNAP (food stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income.
  • Permanently extend the improvements in the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that lift millions of women and children out of poverty.
  • Expand access to affordable health insurance and preventive care services by continuing to fully implement the Affordable Care Act.
  • Replace the arbitrary cuts from the “sequester,” including for this year, with a mix of revenue increases and other spending cuts.

And a bonus reason!

  • The Murray budget would close corporate tax loopholes and limit unfair tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, raising revenue needed to support vital programs and contribute to deficit reduction.

The time to act is now! Your Senators need to hear that you expect them to vote YES on the Murray budget.
Thank you for everything you do for women and families.

 Joan Entmacher Vice President for Family Economic Security National Women’s Law Center     Judy Waxman  Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights  National Women’s Law Center      Helen Blank  Director of Child Care and Early Learning  National Women’s Law Center     

P.S. To learn more about the budget visit www.nwlc.org/federalbudget.

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The FY2014 Murray Senate Budget: A Fairer Path Forward for Women and Families


The FY 2014 budget introduced by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) presents a clear alternative to the plan proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).  In stark contrast to the Ryan budget, which makes deep cuts to programs that women and families depend on while giving lavish tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and corporations, the Murray budget proposes new investments in early childhood programs, largely protects core safety net programs, preserves the Affordable Care Act, and advances tax fairness. However, the Murray budget includes some cuts to funding for health care and other domestic programs that could be problematic for women.

Specifically, Chairman Murray’s budget:

The budget also invests in measures to speed up the economic recovery, including a $100 billion fund to support job training and infrastructure projects that would create new jobs and strengthen the economy.

  • Protects critical supports for vulnerable families and individuals.   Chairman Murray’s budget protects most core safety net programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and housing assistance for low-income families.  Women especially rely on these programs because they face a greater risk of poverty than men at all stages of their lives.
  • Fully implements the Affordable Care Act, ensuring that women will have greater access to affordable health insurance and preventive care services.
  • Improves tax credits for working families. The budget would make permanent improvements to the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that help lift millions of women and children out of poverty each year.  These tax credit improvements were extended for only five years by the “fiscal cliff” deal at the end of 2012, unlike many of the Bush-era tax cuts that were made permanent.
  • Protects Social Security and promotes a secure retirement.  The Murray budget would make no cuts to Social Security benefits, which is particularly important for women who are the majority of adult beneficiaries and rely on Social Security benefits for a greater share of their income than men do.  The budget also provides incentives for companies to fully fund their pension plans and proposes other pension system reforms to help more Americans achieve a secure retirement.
  • Closes corporate tax loopholes and limits tax breaks for the wealthiest.  The Murray budget would make the tax code fairer and raise $975 billion in revenue from the individuals and corporations with the greatest ability to contribute.  For example, it calls for limiting tax breaks claimed by the top two percent of income earners, taxing private investment fund managers’ compensation at the same rates as regular earnings, and preventing corporations from taking advantage of offshore tax havens.     
  • Replaces arbitrary cuts from “sequestration” with a mix of revenue increases and other spending cuts.  Chairman Murray’s budget eliminates the automatic, across-the-board cuts (known as “sequestration” or “the sequester”) entirely – including restoration of FY 2013 funds.  These cuts, established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), took effect March 1, 2013 and are projected to result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs and critical services for millions this year alone.  Under current law, sequestration will be in effect through FY 2021. The Murray budget replaces the entire sequester with a 50-50 mix of revenue increases and spending cuts.

The total spending cuts in Chairman Murray’s budget are about equal to the revenue increases – $975 billion. This total includes $382 billion cut from the discretionary side of the budget ($240 billion from defense, $142 billion from non-defense), $351 billion from the mandatory side (primarily from $275 billion in cuts to health programs), and $240 billion from interest savings.

This approach is far more fair than the Ryan budget, which not only refuses to ask millionaires and corporations to contribute a penny more toward deficit reduction but would give them huge new tax cuts.  Nevertheless, some of the cuts in the Murray budget could be problematic.  Specifically, the Murray budget:

  • Cuts $275 billion from federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.  It will be very important to ensure that these cuts are implemented in a way that does not hurt beneficiaries.
  • Maintains and extends low caps on discretionary spending established by the Budget Control Act.  Over the next decade, these caps will bring federal spending on non-defense discretionary programs – like Head Start, child care, K-12 education, domestic violence prevention, and job training – to its lowest level in over 50 years.  The Murray budget keeps these caps in place through FY 2021 per the BCA, and caps discretionary spending in fiscal years 2022 and 2023 as well, cutting $142 billion from non-defense discretionary spending. These extremely low limits could compel reductions in services that women and their families depend on.