How Sequestration Affects Public Programs

19 Mar

Sequestration is a big, scary word. And unfortunately, it’s happening to us here in the United States. The cuts put in motion by sequestration could seriously affect many citizens’ day-to-day lives, and unless the federal government finds a long-lost sense of unity, the picture will get grimmer by the month.

 

Remember back when all that was on the news was talk about how the fiscal cliff was coming? Or how about the deadline for a federal budget? And what about that plan on how to address the federal deficit to avoid the debt ceiling? These are just a few examples of issues that have gone unresolved, and now citizens are feeling the effects.

 

So what is sequestration, exactly? Basically, it’s a series of arbitrary, across-the-board cuts that will get our government’s budget back on track. They were designed to be so unappealing (since they cut nearly everything instead of maximizing efficiency) that the two parties would have to agree on an alternate plan—but so far they haven’t.

 

Budgets for wide-reaching programs and departments like the federal Department of Education, which puts financial aid, scholarships, and K-12 program funding at risk (including special education funding).

 

State programs funded by the National Institutes of Health could also be seriously hurt, meaning medical research could be slowed or halted. Federally funded programs that pay for health insurance for the uninsured will also be impacted.

 

Some federal government organizations are already far too used to budget cuts. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) houses nearly half a million residents in the city’s five boroughs and has suffered cuts for the past several years. That puts NYCHA ahead of the game when it comes to operating with a less-than-ideal budget.

 

NYCHA is currently ahead of schedule fixing a backlog of nearly 400,000 repairs, a job for which NYCHA Chairman John Rhea brought in Cecil House. As General Manager, House has successfully implemented a plan to eliminate the backlog that includes hiring hundreds of new workers. This will not only create a healthier infrastructure, but it will also provide permanent jobs that will benefit the local community’s economy.

 

How far will sequestration cuts go before the federal government agrees on a different solution? Not long, we hope—it’s designed to cut $1.2 trillion over 10 years, with the first $85 billion to be cut by the end of September.

 

 

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