If Congress Doesn’t Act by March 1, Automatic Budget Cuts Will Hurt the Economy

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The Projected Impact of Cuts on Middle Class Families, the Economy and Jobs in Alabama

Unless Congress acts by March 1, a series of automatic cuts will take effect, threatening hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs. Referred to in Washington Speak as “the sequester,” this could result in cuts to vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illnesses and men and women in the armed services.

There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, according to the Obama administration, but the president believes it should be done in a balanced way that protects investments that the middle class relies upon, according to a White House press release announcing the effects of the sequester by state.

Already, the President has worked with Congress to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, “but there’s more to do,” according to the White House. “The president has put forward a balanced plan to not only avoid the harmful effects of the sequester but also to reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion in total. The president’s plan meets Republicans more than halfway and includes twice as many spending cuts as it does tax revenue from the wealthy.”

Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe.

“By not asking the wealthy to pay a little more, Republicans are forcing our children, seniors, troops, military families and the entire middle class to bear the burden of deficit reduction,” the president says.

He says he is determined to cut spending and reduce the deficit in a balanced way, but he won’t stick the middle class with the bill. The president is willing to compromise, but on behalf the middle class he says he cannot accept a deal that undercuts their economic security.

“Our economy is continuing to strengthen but we cannot afford a self-inflicted wound from Washington,” the president says. “Republicans should compromise and meet me in the middle. We cannot simply cut our way to prosperity, and if Republicans continue to insist on an unreasonable, cuts-only approach, Alabama risks paying the price.”

If sequestration takes effect, here are some examples of the impacts on Alabama this year alone:

* Teachers and Schools: Alabama will lose approximately $11 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 150 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 21,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 40 fewer schools would receive funding.

* Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Alabama will lose approximately $9 million in funds for about 110 teachers, aides and staff who help children with disabilities.

* Work-Study Jobs: Around 940 fewer low income students in Alabama would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 280 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

* Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 1,100 children in Alabama, reducing access to critical early education.

According to the U.S. Constitution, all spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, now controlled by a majority of Republicans. The president can only suggest a budget. It is up to the House to pass it and the Senate to approve it.

© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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