Call on Congress to Halt Crippling Budget Cuts Under “Sequestration”
URGE DEVELOPMENT OF A FAIR AND BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate on January 1, 2013, and was signed into law on January 2, 2013. While this bill did resolve several aspects of the “fiscal cliff,” including expiring tax breaks for many Americans and an extension of the federal long-term unemployment compensation, it only postponed the threat of “sequestration,” a proposal which was agreed to by Congress in July, 2011. Under the provisions of the Act, unless Congress and the President can agree on a federal budget which significantly reduces the deficit by Friday, March 1, 2013, the federal government will be faced with “sequestration,” or reckless, automatic, across-the-board cuts on most federal government spending. This means that almost every federal discretionary program will be facing a reduction in its budget of approximately 8.6%. Currently, this funding cut will affect both defense and non-defense programs; it is estimated that as many as 2 million Americans, including police officers, teachers, air traffic controllers, and civilian defense workers and other government employees may lose their jobs or be furloughed as a result. Essential services would also be drastically cut, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable among us.
While most mandatory programs, such as Medicaid, Social Security, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the food Stamps program were exempted from the sequester, almost every other federal program will be cut. And, while military pay was exempted, military benefits, such as tuition assistance and the Tricare program, which provides health care to personnel and their families, were not. Here are just a few examples of what will be cut:
- Childhood Vaccinations: it is estimated that almost 212,000 children will not be vaccinated;
- Head Start: almost 100,000 fewer low-income children would be served;
- Screenings for breast and cervical cancer: as many as 34,000 fewer women would be screened;
- Meals-On-Wheels: for seniors who are not able to get out, 17 million fewer meals would be served;
- Job training, education or employment services: 1.6 million fewer adults, dislocated workers and at-risk youth would receive these vital services;
- Public housing support will be cut by about $1.94 billion;
- Medicare will be cut by 2%
- Special Education grants to states and localities will be cut by $840 million; and
- The federal prison system gets cut by $355 million.
Due to the potential devastation of sequestration on almost every American, and the disproportionate impact it would have on the most vulnerable among us, the NAACP continues t call on Congress and the Administration to put aside their partisan bickering and develop a balanced budget which makes the tax code more fair and does not do additional harm to the programs which serve us all.