Sequester Watch, #11

July 1st, 2013 at 5:32 pm

This week’s SW begins with an interesting and well-researched article in today’s WaPo on how sequestration hasn’t been nearly as bad as some people expected.

Fair point, for sure, but let’s look a bit more carefully at what’s being claimed both in the WaPo piece and here at OTE.

–The WaPo is looking specifically at “dire predictions” and finding that a minority have come to pass, some effects are worse than forecast, while half of the 48 predictions they look into haven’t come to pass.

That’s not our approach.  We’re trying to document any and every account we can find of the sequester’s impact, regardless of predictions.  That’s not at all to say the WaPo’s effort is misguided.  Theirs is more of an accountability exercise, and there’s little denying that some claims made by sequestration opponents have not yet been born out.

–Of course, “not yet” doesn’t mean never.  Even effects that won’t be felt this year because they were cancelled (furloughs of air-traffic controllers) could come back next year unless Congress acts again to exempt them.

–Some of the offsets documented by the WaPo that enabled agencies to avoid real cuts are one-time events.  EG, they document a $300 million cut in “expired balances” at Justice, funds that were allocated but not intended to be spent.  Once you’ve done that once, you can’t do it again.

–In this regard, it is a mistake for the WaPo to go from “dire predictions haven’t materialized” which is true, to “the sequester isn’t so bad,” which is surely not the case for many affected people.

Let’s not lose sight of the larger picture here.  The cuts that are being made, e.g., the WaPo finds unemployment benefit cuts of up to 11%, or $450 per year, are serious for some families’ budgets and for the broader economy.  Moreover, as I and others have stressed, the discretionary, or agency, accounts are not where the real spending pressures are coming from…that would be health care costs.

And let’s not lose sight of the smaller picture either: the micro impacts on the families that lose a Head Start slot or a meal for a shut-in elderly person.  Anecdotal and journalistic reports of the type we’ve featured here have found many examples of these cases.  They are harsh, unnecessary, and ill-advised—much more a symptom of congressional gridlock then fiscal rectitude.

‘A Slow-Motion Train Wreck’: The Real Consequences of the Sequester
June 24, 2013
By Allison Kilkenny
The Nation
http://www.thenation.com/blog/174948/slow-motion-train-wreck-real-consequences-sequester#
 

Sequestration May Lead To Layoffs Of Capitol Janitors
June 24, 2013
By Amanda Terkel
Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/sequestration-capitol-janitors_n_3492065.html
 

Sequester Cuts Health Insurance Tax Credit for Small Nonprofits
June 25, 2013
By Rick Cohen
Nonprofit Quarterly
http://www.nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/22520-sequester-cuts-health-insurance-tax-credit-for-small-nonprofits.html
 

EXCLUSIVE: Sequester means cuts to local housing for poor
June 25, 2013
By Dan Horn
Cincinnati.com
http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20130625/NEWS010801/306250202/EXCLUSIVE-Sequester-means-cuts-local-housing-poor
 

Sequester shmester? The worst is yet to come.
June 26, 2013
By Tory Newmyer
CNNMoney
http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2013/06/26/sequester-spending/
 

PBS Affiliate Warns Sequestration Cuts Could Take Popular Shows Away
June 26, 2013
Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/pbs-sequestration-cuts-shows_n_3502831.html
 

Marines may have to cut 8,000 more if sequester remains
June 26, 2013
By Jim Michaels
USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/26/commandant-amos-helmand-afghanistan-odierno/2460619/
 

Sequester Hits Home for Pa. Moms, Children
June 26, 2013
By Queen Muse
NBC10 Philadelphia
http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Sequester-hits-home-WIC-Pennsylvania-Moms-Children-213187981.html
 

Washington County Head Start program dwindles after sequestration budget cuts
June 27, 2013
By Elizabeth Conkey
Bennington Banner (NY)
http://www.benningtonbanner.com/news/ci_23547714/washington-county-head-start-program-dwindles-after-sequestration
 

Sequestration Cuts Hurting Head Start
June 28, 2013
By Joselyn King
The Intelligencer (WV)
http://www.theintelligencer.net/page/content.detail/id/587020/Sequestration-Cuts-Hurting-Head-Start.html?nav=510
 

The sequester’s long, slow burn
June 28, 2013
By DARREN SAMUELSOHN
Politico Pro
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/sequestration-budget-cuts-economy-93252.html
 

Sequester-related delays may return to airports
June 28, 2013
By Kevin Robillard
Politico Pro
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/sequestration-airport-delays-93261.html
 

Catrina Jackson shares how the recent sequester is harming our city’s early-education programs
June 28, 2013
By Catrina Jackson
Chicago Sun-Times
http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/20881923-418/catrina-jackson-shares-how-the-recent-sequester-is-harming-our-citys-early-education-programs.html
 

Sequester Pentagon cuts start to bite
June 28, 2013
By Sabri Ben-Achour
Marketplace Radio
http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/6-degrees-sequestration/sequester-pentagon-cuts-start-bite
 

Citing the Sequester and Missouri’s Rejection of Medicaid Expansion, Rural Ozarks Hospital Resorts to Layoffs
June 28, 2013
By Jennifer Davidson
KSMU Ozarks Public Radio
http://ksmu.org/article/citing-sequester-and-missouri-s-rejection-medicaid-expansion-rural-ozarks-hospital-re-63208
 

Chief Justice Roberts: Sequester cuts hitting federal judiciary ‘hard’
June 29, 2013
By Ben Geman
The Hill
http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/308591-chief-justice-roberts-sequester-hits-judiciary-particularly-hard-hopes-for-flexibility
 

LETTER: Sequester Makes Harsh Cut To Unemployment Benefits
June 29, 2013
By Joseph Durette
The Courant (CT)
http://articles.courant.com/2013-06-29/news/hcrs-15535–20130628_1_unemployment-benefits-long-term-unemployed-job-market
 

Headstart class lost to budget sequester
June 30, 2013
By Jenn Smith
The North Adams Transcript (MA)
http://www.thetranscript.com/news/ci_23565448/class-lost-budget-sequester.html
 

Why is the Department of Justice not paying its assistant attorneys?
June 30, 2013
By Christie Thomson
Salon
http://www.salon.com/2013/06/30/why_is_the_department_of_justice_not_paying_their_assistant_attorneys_partner/singleton/
 

Nonprofits feel sequester’s pain
June 30, 2013
By Khurram Saeed
The Journal News (NY)
http://www.lohud.com/article/20130630/NEWS03/306300030/Nonprofits-feel-sequester-s-pain
 

Sequestration not just a Beltway issue
June 30, 2013
By Jennifer Sakole
Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/sequestration-not-just-a-beltway-issue/2013/06/29/3a8b008c-dd05-11e2-bd83-e99e43c336ed_story.html

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4 comments in reply to "Sequester Watch, #11"

  1. Rob Edmiston says:

    Thought this Jimmy Cliff song appropriate after reading this post. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-QyvCFBfPA&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    Excellent new version on his Live at KCRW release.


  2. Pablo says:

    WaPo point was that Administration hyped the potential damage. Now that their exaggerations are false, it is hard to get any attention on the topic.


  3. PeonInChief says:

    I noted that the WaPo piece didn’t even mention housing, where the consequences are serious for low-income tenants in subsidized housing. Many don’t make enough to pay the 30% they’re already charged, let alone the additional sums required a a result of sequester. When the number of homeless families rise, we’ll know why.


  4. Bill Gatliff says:

    Now I’m beginning to understand Norquist’s confident swagger after the Presidential election, and why he kept noting Republican domination in governorship of the states.

    Put simply, if the R’s can by any means necessary merely transfer the expense of running society back to the state level a’la sequester and “state’s rights”, then they move the referendum to a home-court advantage: 30-ish Republican governors, and 25 states where they have majorities in both chambers (ref: Wikipedia).

    The situation is a bit like Brer Rabbit begging the fox to not throw him back into the briar patch. And in promoting a message that pushes the blame for the blowback of sequester et. al back up to the federal level, they create a nice feedback loop.

    Another way of thinking of the strategy is: divide, and conquer.


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