Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sequestration-- Real Consequences For Real People Excites Republican Sadomasochism


Boehner and Cantor have both indicated they're willing to push he economy off the cliff again with that ridiculous sequester s&m nonsense they both voted for, vociferously disowned, and are now back in love with again. I have a feeling if ordinary American families know what their plan would do to the country-- and to their own situation-- there would be much more of a public outcry. The White House was kind enough to send out a fact sheet about the impact of the sequester if Boehner and Cantor force it to happen. Here are a few excerpts:
Unless Congress acts by March 1st, a series of automatic cuts-- called a sequester-- that threaten thousands of jobs and the economic security of the middle class will take effect. There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, but the President believes it should be done in a balanced way that protects investments that the middle class relies on. Already, the President has worked with Congress to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, but there’s more to do. The President believes we can not only avoid the harmful effects of a sequester but also reduce the deficit by $4 trillion total by cutting even more wasteful spending and eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy.

Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe. Our economy is poised to take off but we cannot afford a self-inflicted wound from Washington. We cannot simply cut our way to prosperity, and if Republicans continue to insist on an unreasonable cuts-only approach, the middle class risks paying the price. The most damaging effects of a sequester on the middle class are:

•         Cuts to education: Our ability to teach our kids the skills they’ll need for the jobs of the future would be put at risk. 70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start, 10,000 teacher jobs would be put at risk, and funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides, and staff could be cut.

  •        Cuts to small business: Small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs in America and instead of helping small businesses expand and hire, the automatic cuts triggered by a sequester would reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to $540 million.

  •         Cuts to food safety: Outbreaks of foodborne illness are a serious threat to families and public health. If a sequester takes effect, up to 2,100 fewer food inspections could occur, putting families at risk and costing billions in lost food production.

  •         Cuts to research and innovation: In order to compete for the jobs of the future and to ensure that the next breakthroughs to find cures for critical diseases are developed right here in America, we need to continue to lead the world in research and innovation. Most Americans with chronic diseases don’t have a day to lose, but under a sequester progress towards cures would be delayed and several thousand researchers could lose their jobs. Up to 12,000 scientists and students would also be impacted.

  •         Cuts to mental health: If a sequester takes effect, up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children could go untreated. This would likely lead to increased hospitalizations, involvement in the criminal justice system, and homelessness for these individuals.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) now calculates that sequestration will require an annual reduction of roughly 5 percent for nondefense programs and roughly 8 percent for defense programs. However, given that these cuts must be achieved over only seven months instead of 12, the effective percentage reductions will be approximately 9 percent for nondefense programs and 13 percent for defense programs. These large and arbitrary cuts will have severe impacts across the government.

More detailed explanations of these cuts as well as additional areas that will be impacted include:

•         FBI and other law enforcement – The FBI and other law enforcement entities would see a reduction in capacity equivalent to more than 1,000 Federal agents.  This loss of agents would significantly impact our ability to combat violent crime, pursue financial crimes, secure our borders, and protect national security.

•         Food safety-- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could conduct 2,100 fewer inspections at domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture food products while USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) may have to furlough all employees for approximately two weeks. These reductions could increase the number and severity of safety incidents, and the public could suffer more foodborne illness, such as the recent salmonella in peanut butter outbreak and the E. coli illnesses linked to organic spinach, as well as cost the food and agriculture sector millions of dollars in lost production volume.

  •         Workplace safety-- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could have to pull its inspectors off the job for some period of time. This would mean roughly 1,200 fewer inspections of the Nation’s most dangerous workplaces, which would leave workers unprotected and could lead to an increase in worker fatality and injury rates.

•         Title I education funds-- Title I education funds would be eliminated for more than 2,700 schools, cutting support for nearly 1.2 million disadvantaged students. This funding reduction would put the jobs of approximately 10,000 teachers and aides at risk. Students would lose access to individual instruction, afterschool programs, and other interventions that help close achievement gaps.

  •         Special education (IDEA)-- Cuts to special education funding would eliminate Federal support for more than 7,200 teachers, aides, and other staff who provide essential instruction and support to preschool and school-aged students with disabilities.

  •         Head Start-- Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 70,000 children, reducing access to critical early education. Community and faith based organizations, small businesses, local governments, and school systems would have to lay off over 14,000 teachers, teacher assistants, and other staff.

•        Nutrition assistance for women, infants and children-- Approximately 600,000 women and children would be dropped from the Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) from March through September. At least 1,600 State and local jobs could be lost as a result.

•         Mental health and substance abuse services-- Cuts to the Mental Health Block Grant program would result in over 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children not receiving needed mental health services. This cut would likely lead to increased hospitalizations, involvement in the criminal justice system, and homelessness for these individuals. In addition, close to 8,900 homeless persons with serious mental illness would not get the vital outreach, treatment, housing, and support they need through the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program.

  •         AIDS and HIV treatment and prevention-- Cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program could result in 7,400 fewer patients having access to life saving HIV medications. And approximately 424,000 fewer HIV tests could be conducted by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) State grantees, which could result in increased future HIV transmissions, deaths from HIV, and costs in health care.

     •         Homelessness programs-- More than 100,000 formerly homeless people, including veterans, would be removed from their current housing and emergency shelter programs, putting them at risk of returning to the streets.
Tragically, these are cuts Boehner, Cantor and virtually the entire GOP congressional delegation-- like the very excited Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming-- would like to see happen. Taking away the House leadership from them in 2014, and preventing the Senate leadership from falling to Miss McConnell that year, are paramount-- as is defeating the handful of Democrats who go along with their agenda, Blue Dogs and New Dems like John Barrow (GA), Ron Kind (WI), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Bill Owens (NY), Collin Peterson (MN), Hnery Cuellar (TX), Jim Matheson (UT), Jim Costa (CA) and Mike McIntyre (NC)-- each of whom votes more frequently with the Republicans than with the Democrats. Ann Kirkpatrick, for example, voted with the GOP on every single important roll call this year, the only Democrat to do so-- and a worse record than 78 Republicans!

And for readers worried about Obama selling us out in the quest for a deal with Boehner... well, who knows what will happen in the end, but it was somewhat heartening this week to see him say he's not open to Paul Ryan's demand that the Medicare eligibility age be raised.
President Barack Obama is opposed to efforts to raise the Medicare eligibility age as part of efforts to cut the deficit, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

"No," Carney unequivocally said when asked if Obama would support such measures. "The president has made clear that we don't believe that is the right policy to take."

Obama and congressional lawmakers had discussed raising the eligibility age in their negotiations in search of a "grand bargain" on the fiscal cliff, and Carney had previously refused to rule out that Obama was considering the measure, which is strongly opposed by progressives.



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