CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, May 19, 2023


May 19, 2023

May 19, 2023 

The twin threats edition. We could be less than two weeks away from defaulting on our national debt. By now, you’ve probably heard what happens if we default – read on for more details. 

But there is more than one threat to our nation. Even as you read this, the White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are negotiating what some in the human needs community fear will be cuts to programs Americans rely on for their very survival. Already, the House GOP has passed legislation that would cut trillions in domestic spending over the next decade. 

Meanwhile, an explosive new CBO report shows that extending parts of the 2017 Trump tax cuts would add at least $3.5 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, including $370 billion in increased borrowing costs. That would erase the deficit reduction from $3.6 trillion in painful cuts to appropriated programs contained in the House GOP legislation. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. President Biden has proposed a budget that invests in the American people, protects programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, and reduces the deficit by nearly $3 trillion over 10 years by saving money through such means as negotiating prescription drug prices  and making the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations pay more of their fair share in taxes. 

Many of you have spoken out about what’s at stake. In recent weeks,  650,000 letters have been sent by constituents, supporting Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, child care, housing, care services, fair revenues, and preventing default. In addition, dozens have joined meetings with Congressional offices as part of the SAVE for All campaign, sharing the devastating impact the House GOP’s cuts would have on local communities. 

If you have not taken action, it is not too late. Click here for a letter individuals can send to Congress. In addition, CHN is circulating a letter to be signed by organizations demanding that members of Congress support investments in our people and a responsible approach to the federal budget, including a clean increase in or suspension of the debt ceiling. If your local, state, or national organization has not signed the letter, please encourage someone authorized to do so; today, Friday, May 19, is the deadline. To read the letter and see a list of signers so far, click here. People authorized to sign for the group should click here. 


26 million


The number of students in schools that teach low-income students who could be harmed if the House-passed bill becomes law , according to OMB chief Shalanda Young. 150,000 teachers, aides, or other key staff could lose their jobs. Tweet this.


1 million


The number of older Americans at risk of losing SNAP food aid and going hungry if the House GOP debt ceiling bill becomes law, according to President Biden.
Tweet this.


The number of people who would lose access to opioid use disorder treatment, denying them a potential lifesaving path to recovery. Tweet this.




Some 290,000 children would lose access to Head Start and another 250,000 would lose access to child care. Tweet this.




Funding would be eliminated for Housing Choice Vouchers for 800,000 households, including 250,000 households led by seniors. Tweet this.




If the U.S. defaults on its debt, some experts warn that more than 8 million jobs could be lost and mortgage rates could soar higher than 20 percent. 


$10 trillion


Moody’s Analytics has warned that stock prices could fall by about 20 percent, wiping out $10 trillion in household wealth and decimating the retirement accounts of millions of Americans. The White House has warned that the decline in stock prices could be closer to 45 percent.



Of the 178 human needs programs tracked annually by CHN, 123 (more than two thirds, or 69 percent) saw cuts from FY 2010 through FY 2023, adjusted for inflation. The House GOP debt ceiling bill would greatly exacerbate these cuts.




The rate of Americans dying while giving birth – or in the weeks afterward – increased by more than one-third in 2021 compared to the year before, with the burden of death disproportionately borne by women of color, according to a report issued earlier this month. The number of maternal deaths rose to 1,205 in 2021, up from 861 in 2020.




Black communities in the U.S. experienced an excess 1.6 million deaths over the past two decades compared to the White population, according to new research. The primary reasons: health disparities and inequity



The federal government is the nation’s largest employer, with 4.2 million full-time workers. Most of these employees would go without pay in the event of a prolonged default.