Sequester Roundup: Reckless Sequester Hurting Businesses, Students, Defense

Another week, and even more examples of how of the reckless sequester cuts are hurting our nation:

New York Times: Budget Battles Keep Agencies Guessing

“The collision of the $1 trillion in budget cuts known as sequestration and the breakdown of the normal budgeting process is creating headaches not just for Washington but also for a vast web of offices dependent on federal financing. Many have been left uncertain as to how much money — if any — they will have to spend in the year ahead.”

“The budget woes are afflicting, among others, state governments, American Indian tribes, military contractors and cancer research laboratories. Budget experts said that the short-term concerns over next year’s dollar figures were already hampering long-term planning and making government officials hesitant to commit to big projects or to hire needed employees…For public housing offices, the disarray means, at a minimum, a delay in maintenance, capital projects and hiring. It also could lead to a cutback in the number of vouchers issued to low-income families to help pay for their homes.”

Washington Post: Six months into federal budget cuts, small business owners share their pain, look to future

“The budget cuts, known as sequestration, slashed Russell’s $3 million in revenue by $1 million. Her staff of 25 is now down to 13.”

“Bob and Bonnie James saw every one of their company’s existing federal contracts, including training work for the Army, Marines, Air Force and the government-funded Cherokee Nation Hospital, canceled when the cuts hit. The sequester erased tens of thousands in revenue and stamped out hiring plans.”

“The $85 billion in budget cuts officially began March 1, but owners like Russell started feeling the impact last summer. Government employees cut contracts in advance, anticipating that they’d lose funding. Among those badly hurt were businesses that provide training and consulting services that aren’t considered essential. Like Russell, they’ve had to lay off workers as their revenue plunged.”

MSNBC: In budget cuts, low-income students suffer more than wealthy ones

“As a result, sequestration has tended to hit schools with low-income students harder than those with wealthy students, disproportionately affecting schools in highly urban or rural areas that have higher poverty rates. While school districts receive 10.5% of their funding from federal sources on average, there’s tremendous variation between states and within them: Federal aid makes up less than 1% of Alexandria, Virginia’s $800 million district budget, but it’s nearly 60% of the funding for Window Rock, Ariz., an impoverished Native American reservation.”

“One thing is clear: Though the cuts officially took effect in March, the pain from most of the Title I cuts has only just begun, as the reductions were incorporated into 2013-14 school budget. ‘Anyone who thinks it’s not having an adverse impact needs to spend more time in our school system,’ say Kizner, the Harrisonburg superintendent.”

“[O]ther districts have even more dramatic cuts to absorb: Schools on tribal lands and federal land near military bases receive ‘impact aid’ from Washington as a substitute for local property taxes. In Arizona’s Window Rock, the capital of Navajo nation, a school district serving 2,600 students was forced to cut 35 teachers and shutter three schools as a result of a $1 million loss in federal funding, according to Education Week.”

Washington Post Op-ed by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: Sequestration’s self-inflicted wounds

“In defense alone, according to recent testimony to the House Armed Services Committee by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Adm. James A. Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, fewer than half of the Air Force’s frontline fighters are combat-ready; 12 combat squadrons have been grounded; key Combat Training Center rotations have been canceled; multiple ship deployments, including the USS Truman carrier strike group, have been canceled; and furloughs for 650,000 civilian employees continue, resulting in a 20 percent pay reduction during every furlough week. These and other effects of sequestration are weakening the United States’ ability to respond effectively to a major crisis in the world beyond the war zone in Afghanistan…To have this happen under any circumstance is irresponsible. To have it happen as the result of a self-inflicted wound is outrageous.”

“Today, unfortunately, we are governing by crisis after crisis after crisis...Neither Congress nor the nation can afford to become resigned to failure. If brave men and women in uniform can put their lives on the line every day to defend our nation, then surely members of Congress can take the risks to do what is necessary to keep America strong. That is not just their responsibility. It is their solemn oath.”

As a reminder, these are the impacts of a policy House Republicans refuse to replace. Doesn’t seem like a record to be proud of.