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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Effects of the Sequester

Painful cuts. When it became evident that the sequester would commence on March 1, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner asserted, “I got 98 percent of what I want.” Although Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives offered several sequester replacement bills, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor expressed that he couldn't think of anything that Republicans would be willing to do in order to reach a deal to prevent sequestration from taking effect. Republican lawmakers at that time appeared to be downright giddy about the sequester. One GOP legislator referred to sequestration as “the first significant tea party victory” in D.C. Another indicated that the cuts are “a home run for America.” Because of the Republican Party's mischaracterization of the sequester, many Americans have opted to simply ignore it. But now the reality of the sequester's effects are becoming too painful to ignore. Numerous states are experiencing federal budget cuts, including a $22 million decrease in funding for primary and secondary education, as well as a $20.3 million reduction in educational services for children with disabilities. Many jobs for teachers and aides are at risk. Some 70,000 fewer children across the country will be served by Head Start which responds to the early educational, developmental and nutritional needs of primarily poor children. A number of senior citizens will find it more difficult to meet their nutritional requirements because Meals on Wheels is on the chopping block. Individuals seeking domestic violence services will find a dramatic decrease in assistance. In addition, tuition aid for students in the military has stopped. As if these cuts aren't painful enough, on April 1, cancer clinics nationwide started turning away thousands of Medicare patients because chemotherapy medicine is so costly and makes it impossible for these clinics to remain financially solvent. Now Republican legislators are trying to blame the president for sequestration's cuts to the airline industry which have resulted in a reduction in air traffic controllers. Furthermore, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, recently reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the sequester's cuts hinder the intelligence community's capacity to thoroughly investigate plots against the U.S. Once again, the Republicans have chosen party over country, resulting in suffering for millions of Americans. Jill Farber-Bramson West Bloomfield

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