Democrats spell out sequestration impacts
If automatic budget cuts known as sequestration go into effect, expect to see 1.4 million lost jobs, a 9.1 percent unemployment rate, and 100,000 new homeless Americans, according to Democrats on the House of Appropriations Committee.
In a Dear Colleague letter (.pdf), dated Oct. 9 and signed by ranking member Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), the Democrats expound upon the impact of sequestration's potential 9.4 percent cuts in discretionary defense spending and 8.2 percent cuts in discretionary nondefense programs in fiscal 2013.
Sequestration cuts go into effect Jan 2., unless Congress and the president can reach an agreement "on a more sensible deficit reduction plan," says Dicks.
Dicks focuses largely on sequestration's impact on jobs and cites a Congressional Research Service estimate that 1.4 million jobs would be lost in 2013, as well as a Congressional Budget Office estimate that unemployemnt would go up to 9.1 percent.
The letter says the Homeland Security Department would have to cut 24,500 jobs and the Justice Department would cut 7,500 positions. About 20,000 Head Start employees would lose their jobs and roughly 28,000 other teachers and aides, would also be laid off.
In regard to the DHS, it says "over $3 billion in cost avoidances and savings have been achieved to date, which leaves little else to cut without directly impacting frontline operations."
The letter also addresses the health-related havoc sequestration would wreak on the American population. The cuts would lead to 1,000,000 fewer patients served by community health centers; 900,000 patients being dropped from the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; 80,000 low-income children of working parents losing child care; 35,000 to 45,000 fewer cancer screenings for women; and 100,000 new homeless American citizens.
Overseas it will lead to 1.2 million fewer vaccinated children in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
Sequestration will cause furloughs at the Food and Safety Inspection Service at the Agricutlrue Department, meaning shortages of federal regulators that inspect slaughter and processing plants which would cause plant closures and increase food prices for meat and poultry, the letter notes.
It runs through a series of other impacts such as the Securities and Exchange Commission delaying the implementation of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, 3 million fewer malaria treatments by international health services, and a 10 percent reduction in correctional officers at the Bureau of Prisons.
Dicks did note that all veteran programs administered by the Veterans Affairs Department, and their related administrative expenses, are exempt from sequestration.
The letter says "there are many reasons to prefer a grand bargain on deficit reduction to formulaic, indiscriminate cuts" in its attempt to make a case for congressional action. "Sequestration is not so much a back-up plan as an inducement for all sides to reach a compromise."
- read the Dear Colleague letter (.pdf)