In an email sent out Tuesday to their supporters, Organizing for America (OFA) asked for examples of how the sequester was affecting them negatively. According to Lindsay Siler, the National Director of Issue Campaigns for OFA and the author of the email, the former Obama reelection campaign organization wants to present the stories to Congress to pressure them to action. The email linked to a page on the OFA website where stories (along with optional photos and video) could be submitted.
The effort by OFA is the latest attempt to change the tone in the sequester debate, which has gone against the President in recent weeks. The move to end tours at the White House due to sequester cuts has backfired on the Obama administration, and a new focus could take the pressure off the President.
The email text, which follows, is looking for instances in which the sequester is harming Americans. The email is entitled "This isn't meant to scare you," but the intent may be just that:
Megan Allen is a fifth-grade teacher in Tampa, Florida. At her elementary school, 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Many live in poverty, with unstable home lives -- some have parents in prison, others go hungry over the weekends. But at school, they're winning science fairs, challenging themselves, and eating two hot meals a day.
For Megan's 36 fifth graders, school is a safe place. The budget cuts known as the sequester could change that. In the county where Megan teaches, 142 schools stand to lose $3 million in funding. The sequester could also slash as much as $2 million in federal funding for special education.
When those cuts kick in, Megan's students could lose teachers that help them every day -- for example, the folks who coach them through tricky arithmetic, or give those who are having reading trouble the special attention they need. The Head Start programs that got these students ready for kindergarten will be dramatically cut down. Their class sizes could go up, leaving less time for individual attention.
The sequester isn't a list of numbers made up to scare you. It's a very real thing that will negatively impact real people -- like Megan's 36 students and their families.
Congress needs to hear those stories. They need to know that their inaction has consequences -- that's the only way we'll put an end to these cuts. Share your story right now on how the sequester is affecting your community.
The assertions made in the email, however, have already been proven incorrect. The programs and staff salaries for special education programs and healthy lunch meals are not funded by the federal government, but at the local level.
An ABC poll taken when the sequester cuts went into effect lays the blame equally among the President and Congress (39% blame both, 30% blame Obama, and 29% blame Congress). However, the White House tour issue has soured public opinion against Obama in recent days. Fox News host Eric Bolling offered to pay to restart White House tours for schoolchildren, and Donald Trump later joined him and offered to cover the costs as well. Whether OFA can change the dialogue remains to be seen.
Source: Organizing for America email, 3/12/2013
Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog WhenLiberalsAttack.com. His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at email@example.com. Click here to receive email updates to WhenLiberalsAttack.com. To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SIGN UP or SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this page.