I was very fortunate to receive an invitation to visit the White House last Thursday. I was among a delegation of 40 community leaders from across the state of North Carolina who were asked to join in a conversation with the White House Office of Community Engagement about the impending fiscal cliff.

Now the fiscal cliff isn’t exactly my top issue, but I figured that there was no good reason to turn down an invitation to The White House. So while President Obama was having lunch with Mitt Romney and Joe Biden was at a local Costco (see that link for some amusing pictures), we were talking about why it’s important for our country to find a balanced approach to solve this fiscal crisis.

Many members of our delegation pointed out that the country’s poor are likely to suffer the most from government spending cuts that would come with the cliff. That includes the 1.6 million North Carolinians living in poverty, including 600,000 children.

The White House is emphasizing the $2000 that a tax hike would cost middle class families. The Republican plan is patently unfair, asking middle class families to sacrifice in order to keep tax rates low for millionaires and billionaires.

What does this mean for Chapel Hill and Carrboro? I pointed out that a cut in Title I and Title III education funding would eliminate teacher jobs and reduce services to poor students and English Language Learners. Some members of the delegation from UNC described how the fiscal cuts would hurt science researchers and health care providers. Across the state there were concerns about military spending, Medicaid and medicare recipients, and unemployment benefits.

So, let’s sum this up… The President wants millionaires and billionaires to pay a little more. The GOP want to cut spending and hurt the poor, the middle class, education, science research and more. And you (yes, YOU!) can really make a difference by doing one more thing beyond listening to this rant… Contact your Senators and Representative (especially the ones who don’t support the President’s agenda).