Not Just Hype: How Irrational Cuts can Impact Public Services

Lack of action by Republicans means the impact of the sequester will be felt over the coming weeks and months across a range of government departments. The Washington Post breaks down how these indiscriminate cuts could impact departments ranging from the FDA to the FAA:

“Those with the heaviest personnel costs are most likely to start furloughing workers a month from now. They’re the employees on the government’s front lines, serving the public at airports, national parks, on the border.

“And that helps explain how, without a deal in Congress to stop it soon, the austerity program known as sequestration will probably be felt by the American public.

“Meat and poultry inspectors, park rangers, air traffic controllers — their jobs are routine, monitoring meat production, answering park visitors’ questions and making sure planes don’t collide in the air.”

“About 71 percent of the Federal Aviation Administration budget covers salaries for controllers and safety inspectors. Furloughs could mean closed airport towers and flight delays, officials have said…. The Transportation Security Administration, which must save about $398 million, could furlough 50,000 employees for as many as seven days and cut overtime, Director John Pistole said this week. The longer the cuts drag on, the longer the airport lines, he said.”

As the impacts build, consumers are likely going to see the difference. A good example? Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained how furloughs will cut down on the number of inspectors able to do food inspections, shutting down factories, which could impact prices at the supermarket:

“…the country’s meat supply would be affected if even some of the 6,290 plants shut down a day or two a week, triggering spot shortages and pushing up prices.”

Seems like driving up food prices is exactly what Congress should be working to avoid as our economy continues to recover. And that’s despite the longer wait times at airports, closures at national parks, and reduction in funding for health research. It’s not too late for Republicans to agree to a balanced solution