Sequestration: It’s Not Only Defense Cuts

An editorial in the NY Times was published on August 1st titled, “The Truth About Military Cuts”. This editorial pointed out the disparity between Republicans’ words and their actions. Around Washington, looming sequestration has become a blame game and it seems that President Obama is the scapegoat for the Republican Party. What many Republican Senators, including Sen. John McCain, forget to mention is that they voted yes for these across-the-board cuts – as is pointed out in the editorial. In town meetings across America, Republican Senators have been scaring citizens over the layoffs that will ensue if Congress cannot make a deal. The Editorial points out that “their goal is partly to drum up opposition to the $500 billion across-the-board defense cuts that begins in January, but it also is to get voters to blame Mr. Obama for those cuts. To do so, they have had to be less than forthright about their role in creating one of the worst examples of governance in many years”.

Another key point that has seemed to garner little attention is the non-defense programs that will also receive cuts. According to the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS), the automatic sequestration would reduce non-defense discretionary programs by 7.8% on January 2, 2013. In a letter by Ellen Murray, Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources for the DHHS, she stated that “the deep discretionary cuts projected by CBO would have profound consequences on the Department’s ability to protect Americans’ health and safety and provide critical services to vulnerable populations”

The projects cuts include:

  • The NIH could potentially eliminate 2,300 new and competing research project grants
  • There would be nearly 300 fewer grants issued by the National Cancer Institute
  • Up to 100,000 children would lose Head Start services
  • 80,000 fewer children would receive child care assistance
  • 12,150 fewer patients would receive benefits from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program
  • 169,000 fewer individuals would be admitted to substance abuse treatment programs
  • 14,200 fewer people who are homeless would receive assistance

Not only would the DHHS be affected but sequestration would additionally lead to the layoffs the New York Times of “tens of thousands of teachers, closings of national parks, reductions in food inspections, and cutbacks at the F.B.I. and the Border Patrol”. As stated in the Editorial, the overall budget deal “reduces domestic spending significantly more than defense”.

President Obama and the Democrats have been clear that no deal can be made without revenue increases for which Republicans, thus far, have refused to find a compromise. Sequestration is something no one wants – and while the Pentagon may be able to absorb these cuts – it cannot do so in the way these cuts are laid out – across-the-board. Within the Department of Defense, there are certain Defense programs that should probably be cut more than they will be under sequestration and other programs that should not be cut as much. Sequestration which was seen as an ultimatum in order for Congress to get its act together is becoming a reality, as partisanship within the Senate and House hinder any sort of resolution on this matter. 

As the editorial put it, “If the Senators are serious about averting a problem they helped create, they can support negotiating a deficit-reduction package that includes tax revenues from the wealthy, or they can urge that both sides of the sequester simply be set aside…Blaming the president for their own mistake is not a solution”

Your comments are welcomed!

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