“Worst Is Yet To Come” For Sequester Cuts

The across-the-board cuts of the sequester have already had a negative impact on a broad range of programs from nutrition assistance to house programs, but MSNBC describes how these cuts are going to get even worse in 2014 unless Congress takes action:

“Winter is coming, and the automatic cuts known as sequestration means that poor families across the country will have less money to heat their homes.”

“Last week, the government gave out 10% less to states for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, as compared to the previous year—a decrease that’s partly due to looming sequestration cuts in 2014. For Maine, whose funding got cut 3%, that means families are receiving $129 less in heating aid just as the temperature has started to drop.”

It’s a reminder that the worst is yet to come for many programs if the across-the-board cuts continue, as agencies run out of stopgap measures that have kept them afloat for the last year and more reductions make themselves felt. Unless Congress reverses the cuts, defense discretionary spending will be cut by an estimated $19 billion in 2014 and non-defense spending will be cut $12 billion more, according Michael Linden, managing director for economic policy at the Center for American Progress.”

That’s on top of the cuts that have already occurred since March, when sequestration began. The reductions shrank defense spending by $9 billion this year, and non-defense spending by $36 billion, as compared to 2012. (The estimates exclude wartime and mandatory spending, both of which are subject to some automatic cuts.)”

“The cumulative impact of sequestration has been difficult to evaluate given the rolling, uneven nature of the cuts and the arcane nature of federal budgeting.”

Government agencies will also have a harder time managing the spending restrictions that have already taken effect in 2013 if sequestration continues. From the Justice Department and the Pentagon to local housing authorities, officials have used temporary, one-time measures to mitigate the pain of sequestration this year. If sequestration continues, however, they won’t have the same creative budgeting and accounting tricks at their disposal. And that means the cuts will deal a harsh blow to more American families and businesses across the country.”

“Ongoing cuts would mean more painful choices across the rest of the government as well. The Federal Aviation Administration avoided furloughing air-traffic controllers this year by redirecting construction funds, but it won’t be able to use the same trick next year if sequestration continues. Both the Pentagon and the FBI may have to lay off thousands of civilian employees in 2014 if the cuts continue.”