Homeless and Poor Still At Risk As Sequestration Cuts Take Hold
In less than a week, Congress passed legislation “to give the secretary of transportation enough financial flexibility to bring the nation’s air traffic control system back up to full strength and end the mounting flight delays that had become a political headache for Congress.”
The 361-to-41 vote came less than 24 hours after the Senate reached accord on the measure, which effectively undoes one of the thorniest results of “sequestration,” $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that took effect March 1. That is remarkable speed for an issue that has been brewing for more than a year, with ample warning of the consequences.
“We’re leaving the homeless behind,” said Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont. “We’re leaving a lot of National Guard folks behind. We’re leaving seniors who depend on Meals On Wheels in the dust. Children who rely on Head Start can teach themselves to read. That’s basically what’s happening.”
The many other people facing hardships because of sequestration include:
Jobless workers losing unemployment benefits.
Children losing Head Start
Seniors losing Meals on Wheels
Low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities losing housing assistance. CBPP estimates that 140,000 fewer households will receive vouchers to help them afford decent housing.
What’s fundamentally wrong with sequestration is that the resulting funding levels are too low to meet government’s everyday operating expenses and invest in key areas — like infrastructure and education — that are important for economic growth. In addition to the above cuts, local law enforcement, medical research, K-12 education, environmental protection, and many other areas also face cuts that will affect communities across the country. The impacts of these cuts may be less obvious than cancelled or delayed flights, and many of the cuts will affect people with relatively little political clout, like low-income families. But they, too, deserve policymakers’ attention.
What will it take to get Congress to address the needs of all of our citizens not just those who fly?