By definition, a sequester is a general cut in government spending. And if a deal is not made immediately, overall budget cuts will hit America on Friday, March 1 at 12:01 a.m.
We are at the precipice. Hundreds of thousands of jobs, services and vulnerable Americans are all threatened.
While there is overall agreement that the deficit needs to be cut, the two approaches to the problem are diametrically opposed; therefore, we sit on this cliff of uncertainty as the two sides have a battle of wills. And the battle will end with the victims being the American people. The Republicans in Congress refuse to discuss any solution that includes cutting tax loopholes for the wealthy–or anything that affects the wealthy in general. At the same time, they immediately go after anything that is socially responsible and anything that may create some sort of safety net to help everyday people live their lives.
If the sequestration occurs–which at this point seems inevitable–New York will face a harsh reality.
New York State will lose over $42 million for primary and secondary education. That could mean the loss of 590 teaching and teacher’s aid positions. That also means 120 fewer schools will receive funding and 70,000 less students will be served. Children with disabilities in the state will be hit even harder, losing over $36 million in funding, which will lead to the loss of about 440 teachers, aides and staff who teach and care for those special needs students.
In the college arena, the work-study program will be decimated and over 8,000 college students would be affected.
And last but not least, on the education front, over 4,300 children will lose their head start programs.
As for the health and well-being of the state, we will lose environmental funding that ensures clean water and air. We will lose funds that help us to respond to public health threats, we’ll suffer from drastic cuts to substance abuse programs and treatment, and we will lose HIV testing for over 68,000 people. And over 7,000 children will not get their vaccines this year.
And to make matters worse, there will also be the loss of day care slots, meals for the elderly, violence against women prevention and more.
That is just some of what will happen in New York. But what will happen nationally is even bigger and scarier.
The national cuts will affect aviation security, food security, research, drug safety, law enforcement, FEMA and veterans’ services. No one will be left untouched–except for the wealthy protected by the Grand Old Party.
We need to speak out; we need to move on Washington and say, “no more.” We can’t fix the deficit on the backs of the middle class and the working poor. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and if this happens, we will have a whole new set of problems on our hands.
Our president knows this and is trying everything in his power to stop it. He just has no one across the aisle to talk to or negotiate with. So as we sit at the precipice, will we fall or will we be pulled back up to safety?