September, 2012, according to the introduction in the OMB Report, sequester was voted on and passed by the House (Republican majority) and Senate (Democratic majority) but was never intended to be implemented. The Obama administration said it believed that sequester was bad policy and stood ready to work with Congress to avoid it from happening.
In October 2012, during his debate for re-election, President Obama told the American people that the automatic spending cuts laid out in the OMB Report would not happen.
“First of all, the Sequester is not something that I've proposed,” he said. “It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.”
But, sequestration began March 1, after the Republicans, Democrats and President Obama would not come to a compromise to stop the automatic spending cuts.
Some news media have argued that the Administration is overhyping sequestration and the cuts amount to a minimal 3%. The minimal 3% would be accurate if cuts included ALL accounts; however, a majority of federal spending is exempt from the automatic spending cuts (including congress members’ salaries).
By the end of 2013, the sequester cuts will reduce federal spending by $85 billion with a total of $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. In a February report from the Congressional Budget Office, sequester includes $42.7 billion in cuts to discretionary defense spending, a 5.3% reduction (not 3%). To note, the federal government will spend about $3.55 trillion this year alone.
To explain the disconnect between this country’s Administration and those who protect it, so far, one ramification felt by the Administration- March 9, the White House suspended its tours. The U.S. Secret Service explains that canceling the tours reduce overtime costs overall and potentially reduce the chance of furloughs. Reductions are estimated at $74,000.00/ week and will continue thru September.
March 8, the military got word that tuition assistance ceased-its consequence of sequestration.
In a statement released by the G-1 public affairs office, the suspension of funding “is necessary given the significant budget execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration.”
The tuition assistance program allows military personnel to pursue high school equivalency degrees, vocational training and college education.
In 2012, over 200,000 soldiers used the Army’s tuition assistance program and over 7,000 of them received college degrees. The assistance offered up to $4,500/ year in aid and is a leading motivation for many to enlist to serve this country. The program was designed to help service members advance their careers in the military and something to fall back on once they enter civilian life.
“It’s really unfortunate for those individuals that are trying to improve their education,” said Phillip Morris, Director of Veteran and Military Student Affairs at university of Colorado Colorado Springs.
The implications of sequestration are hitting Americans hard - it’s not just our military communities, it’s communities across the country.
Information given to visitors to whitehouse.gov, the budget cuts of sequestration will:
• Cut after school and other programs for nearly 1.2 million kids
• Eliminate more than 4 million meals for sick and homebound seniors
• Eliminate jobs for 30,000 teachers and school staff
• Cut funding for thousands of first responders in local communities
Here are examples of how sequestration is affecting our country- so far:
• Atlanta’s recovery efforts following a tornado are being drained
• Georgia Department of Labor is deeming to reduce unemployment benefits by 11% beginning March 31
• Spokane County (WA) Meals On Wheels is facing a $45,000 budget cut
• Cleanup is complicated at the Hanford nuclear leak in Washington state by $171M
• Thousands of Fort Bragg civilian defense employees face furloughs
• Congress members’ salaries are exempt from sequestration
Visit whitehouse.gov, for President Obama’s plan to “avert the sequester and reduce the deficit.”
Visit MoveOn.org ‘s petition calling for lawmakers to cut their salaries for future sessions of Congress it they impose furloughs on workers.