Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sequestration: What can the average person do?

So...sequestration is happening. What is does that mean? It means Congress could not compromise and make thoughtful decisions about where to save money and cut excess. An across the board cut will be implemented that will hurt all programs, whether they be effective or no, whether they help people in poverty or no, whether we want them or no. We sent Congress to make strategic and smart decisions. This is the opposite of that. There are no winners here...unless you count the viruses and germs like Tuberculosis and HIV, which will clearly be healthier and spreading because our global health funding was cut.

Here are a few of the things that will happen because of sequestration cuts (from the Coalition of Human Needs):
  • WIC nutrition aid denied to 600,000 American children and mothers
  • 70,000 American children in poverty without Head Start
  • 30,000 American children in poverty without child care

Globally, as a result of sequestration of contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (from Oxfam):
  • 1.5 million fewer insecticide-treated mosquito nets will be available, leading to 4,000 deaths from malaria
  • 54,800 fewer TB patients will receive treatment, leading to 6,600 more TB deaths.
  • 61,000 people will not be treated for HIV/AIDS.
(photo credit: Patrick Hughes)

And that's just a few examples. These programs don't add up to nearly enough to have an impact on our federal budget. Looking at the foreign aid alone, less than 1% of our national budget is spent on poverty-focused foreign aid. This is help for people living on less than $1.25 a day. This is help that would eradicate polio and fight TB...transmittable diseases that can be a threat to even us here in the U.S. It makes no sense not to protect the most vulnerable folks in the world and in our country just because of a refusal to compromise. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of the poor, so why submit them to terrible suffering?

But, back to our question: What can the average person do?


(photo credit: RESULTS Educational Fund)

RESULTS is an organization committed to empowering everyday people to exercise their own political power by urging Congress to take action for people in poverty. This is the action suggested by RESULTS from February 26. Now, that the cuts are inevitable, your call can be more an expression of disappointment, frustration, outrage or whatever you are feeling. But your member of Congress NEEDS to know this. There are appropriations discussions for 2014 right around the corner and some of this damage can be helped next year...but ONLY if they hear from you and know what you want!

From RESULTS Weekly U.S. Poverty Update, Feb 26:

On Friday, March 1, the "sequestration" budget cuts are set to begin. If these cuts are fully implemented, they will have devastating effects on Head StartEarly Head Start, and child care assistance. Based on estimates from the Obama Administration, 70,000 children would lose Head Start services (plus 14,000 staff would lose their jobs) and 30,000 children and families would lose child care assistance under the Child Care Development Block Grant.  While these manufactured political crises may hold some personal political advantage for lawmakers, its everyday Americans – particularly those Americans struggling in poverty – who pay the price. It’s time for Congress to get to work and put an end to these endless charade.

TAKE ACTION: Take two minutes to call you House and Senate offices today to tell them to stop punishing low-income Americans through mindless and reckless budget cuts. Dial the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 ask for your representative or senator. When the receptionist answers, say:

My name is ______________ and I am a constituent of Rep./Sen. _______________ from __________________. I am calling about the arbitrary budget cuts set to begin this Friday, March 1. If nothing is done, 70,000 children will be forced out of Head Start classrooms, 30,000 families will lose child care, and 600,000 young children and moms will lose WIC nutrition aid, just to name a few. Congress is playing politics with people’s lives. Please tell Rep./Sen. __________ that his constituents are sick and tired of these manufactured budget crises. Tell him/her to protect and strengthen our investments in reducing poverty and to support a bipartisan, balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes new revenues.

After making one call, hang up and call again. Be sure to call your representative and both senators. If you don’t know who your members of Congress are, you can do a search on our Elected Officials page. Once you call, copy and paste this section into an email send it to your local networks, family, and friends. Urge them to take action today!

Because of the impending deadline, calls are best. However, if you cannot make calls, you can send an email urging Congress to protect Head Start and child care using our online e-mail alert.