The Sequester Does The Most Harm To The Most Vulnerable

Derek Pugh

“Cut, Cut, Cut” has been the chorus sung by the House GOP for far too long. Republicans hide under the guise of good intent, while knowing full well what the beat of their rhythm means for the American people.

The Office of Management and Budget released a report on Friday that spells out the impact that the sequester will have on thousands of women, children and men. All in all, nine percent of non-defense programs and 13 percent of defense programs will be cut in a seven-month time span.

Education, which 70 percent of Americans hold as their top priority, would be devastated. Funding for Title I education would be eliminated for more than 2,700 schools, cutting support for almost 1.2 million disadvantaged students. This would put approximately 10,000 teachers and aides at risk of unemployment. Similarly, cuts in special education would eliminate more than 7,200 teachers, aides and other staff.

Cuts to Head Start services would also be eliminated for approximately 70,000 children and lead to further layoffs. Such cuts would secure America’s position in the race to the bottom, with the sequestration being its vehicle.

The Food and Drug Administration would conduct 2,100 fewer food inspections, and more than 100,000 formerly homeless people, including veterans, could lose their current housing. Housing vouchers would also be put on the chopping block, putting about 125,000 families at immediate risk of losing their permanent housing.

How will we help the thousands of Americans who will lose their jobs as a result of the sequester? We won’t. Unemployment compensation could be cut by 9.4 percent, leading to an average loss of more than $400 a week for individuals while they are looking for a job. It is important to note that every dollar spent in unemployment benefits generates $2 of economic activity.

Senior citizens would also be under attack. While Republicans may not get the cuts to Social Security they have been championing, if sequestration does take place such programs as Meals on Wheels would serve 4 million fewer meals to seniors.

Aside from the million jobs lost, threat of a double-dip recession, and risk to our national security, the automatic cuts are simply egregious to human needs.

America, once revered by all for its best practices, has fallen from its former grace. It is embarrassing that we can’t even power a Super Bowl game, but not providing assistance to those who need it the most, while giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, is downright dirty. We do not live in a Third World country.

Congress needs to put country ahead of politics. Repeal the sequester, close the tax loopholes, and build the middle class in order to keep our economy and country safe.

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