Coming Sequester Cuts Will Make Most of Americans' Lives Worse -– And People Are Mobilizing
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In just over a week the government is probably going to enter full-scale austerity. Republicans are refusing to end tax loopholes for big corporations and billionaires, choosing to let the “sequester” occur instead. Unless something changes, and soon, $1.2 trillion in cuts to defense and domestic spending begin to kick in. This will hit jobs, growth, and above all it will hit real people.
Starting today, real people started pushing back through a series of more than 100 events that were scheduled in 23 states around the country. They are sponsored by a coalition that includes national labor groups, Americans for Tax Fairness and Health Care for America Now. (You can see a list of events at AmericaWantsToWork.org or 99Uniting.org.)
The events come on the heels of our own campaign to send messages to members of Congress:
Disarm the Austerity Bomb. Stop the Sequester.
This “sequester” resulted from one more of those Republican hostage-taking crises. They took the debt-ceiling hostage in an attempt to force cuts in spite of polls showing that We, the People wanted taxes raised on the wealthy and no cuts in essential things government does for people. As part of the deal to release the hostages they demanded that this looming “sequester” be set up, to bring pressure on Congress to gut other parts of the budget.
People feel squeezed, and rely on essential government services, because 40% Of Americans Now Make Less Than 1968 Minimum Wage. That’s right, the linked post explains that if the 1968 minimum wage had increased along with gains in productivity, the minimum wage would be $16.50 an hour today. Between that, the continuing effects of the recent Great Recession, the decline of union bargaining power, and the “austerity” cuts that have already been forced on us by Republicans people are already stretched to the limit. And now this.
The effect of these things on actual people has not been a part of the national budget discussion for quite a while. After all, by definition in a democracy all government spending is things We, the People decide to do to make our lives better. But also by definition in a plutocracy the things We, the People want just don’t count.
But anyway, here are some numbers, from a fact sheet I received from the Coalition On Human Needs:
A new round of federal budget cuts is slated to start on March 1. If nothing is done, the cuts will deny food to young children, turn low-income families out of their homes, and reduce funds for education and training. These indiscriminate across-the-board cuts (called “sequestration”) come on top of an average 7.6 percent cut in federal funds to states since 2010. The looming federal cuts would make things worse, hurting vulnerable people, shifting burdens to states and localities, and threatening economic growth.
- Children and mothers losing WIC nutrition aid: 600,000
- Low-income families losing rental housing vouchers: 125,000
- Formerly homeless people losing housing: 100,000
- Children denied Head Start: 70,000
- Funding cut from Head Start: $406m
- Children denied affordable child care: 30,000
- $ cuts deep enough to end services to these many low-income K-12 children: $1.2m
- Fewer people with disabilities served by Vocational Rehab: 75,700
- Fewer meals on wheels served to seniors: 4m
- Adults and children with serious mental illness losing treatment: 373,000
- Unemployment benefits cut for long-term unemployed: 9.4%
- Jobs lost because of sequestration: over 1m
Media Matters has also assembled just a few things that will be cut:
The sequester cuts would mean:
- 70,000 children kicked off Head Start and 1.2 million kids seeing their schools lose education funds, which mean fewer teachers, crowded classrooms, and less learning time. What if it’s your child’s school?
- Emergency responders lose their jobs, which means slower response times and weaker disaster preparedness. What if your neighborhood is the next one hit by a weather disaster?
- Layoffs of airport traffic controllers and transportation security workers. Do you want longer lines and more hassles at the airport?
- Layoffs at the Social Security Administration, which mean delays and hassles for seniors enrolling in Medicare or calling about their Social Security benefits. What if it’s your parents?
Up to 2,100 fewer food inspections. Do you want to worry about the safety of the food you put on your family’s dinner table?
- Fewer FBI agents and law enforcement to protect our families from violent criminals. What if it’s your family?
Media Matters asks this question: Wouldn’t you rather get rid of special interest tax loopholes for corporations and millionaires?