The Sequester: The Republican’s Economic Sabotage

sequestrationMarch 4, 2013 – Once again, because Republicans in Congress would rather play politics and avoid potential primary challenges instead of doing what’s right for America, we are facing yet another crisis of their own making.  Of course, like Pavlov’s dog when that alarm bell rings, they foam at the mouth and blame the President.

They say that this was President Obama’s idea.  They are partly right, because THEY agreed to it during the 2011 Budget Control Act, which incorporated the sequester in case Congress and the President couldn’t agree on a compromise plan to develop a budget while tackling long-term debt.  The thinking of the Administration in suggesting the sequester was that no one in Congress would be so stupid as to let the sequester happen.  They’d HAVE to compromise.

Well, the Administration was wrong.  Evidently, there ARE enough stupid people in Congress to let it happen.  We have a Congress now that is sabotaging the economy because Republican Speaker John Boehner can’t control his unruly House and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell still wants the President to fail.

Just so folks know, in addition to slowing economic recovery and increasing unemployment, this is what we face if the Republicans allow the sequester to happen (White House document):

Impact of March 1st Cuts on Middle Class Families, Jobs and Economic Security: Virginia

Unless Congress acts by March 1st, a series of automatic cuts—called the sequester—will take effect that threaten hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs, and cut vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.

There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, but the President believes it should be done in a balanced way that protects investments that the middle class relies on. Already, the President has worked with Congress to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, but there’s more to do.

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 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 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. Republicans should compromise and meet the President in the middle. We cannot simply cut our way to prosperity, and if Republicans continue to insist on an unreasonable, cuts-only approach, Virginia risks paying the price.


 If sequestration were to take effect, some examples of the impacts on Virginia this year alone are:

Teachers and Schools: Virginia will lose approximately $14 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 190 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 14,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 40 fewer schools would receive funding.

  •  Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Virginia will lose approximately $13.9 million in funds for about 170 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

 Work-Study Jobs: Around 2,120 fewer low income students in Virginia would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 840 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 1,000 children in Virginia, reducing access to critical early education.

Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Virginia would lose about $2,997,000 in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Virginia could lose another $826,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Military Readiness: In Virginia, approximately 90,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $648.4 million in total.

o Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $146 million in Virginia.

o Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Virginia would be cut by about $8 million.

o Navy: Cancel the maintenance of 11 ships in Norfolk, defer four projects at Dahlgren, Oceana, and Norfolk, and delay other modernization and demolition projects.

 Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Virginia will lose about $276,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

 Job Search Assistance to Help those in Virginia find Employment and Training: Virginia will lose about $348,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 18,390 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

Child Care: Up to 400 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.

 Vaccines for Children: In Virginia around 3,530 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $241,000.

Public Health: Virginia will lose approximately $764,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Virginia will lose about $2,140,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 1,700 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Virginia State Department of Health will lose about $337,000 resulting in around 8,400 fewer HIV tests.

STOP Violence Against Women Program: Virginia could lose up to $172,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 700 fewer victims being served.

 Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: Virginia would lose approximately $1,215,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.

I would close by urging you to contact our Congressman, Republican Rob Wittman, who is a smart man.  But, it’s no use.  Sadly, it seems that he has put those smarts and commonsense in a blind trust in order to tow the Party line dictated by Republican Leader Eric Can’t-or and to avoid a primary challenge.  Profiles in courage?  Doing what’s right for America?  Not here in the 1st and 7th Congressional Districts.


O.Hank! is a local writer, who works in the private sector and has worked in policy positions in local, state and federal levels of government.

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