Sequestration is only a couple days away and appears to be inevitable. While there are some that recognize the negative potential of sequestration, there are many others who simply cannot or refuse to grasp just how bad this may be. Rather than looking at the real impact, there is a lot of rhetoric being put out there that is focused almost exclusively on politics when that is exactly what has put the country in this situation to begin with.
There are skeptics of the presidency who claim that President Obama is simply trying to create an “emergency” to further his agenda. These remarks have come from some high profile names such as columnist George Will and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. They claim that the sequester will not be bad, or at least not as bad as President Obama states, and that this is nothing but a political ploy to further the President’s budget agenda.
The fact is that no one knows the full effect of the cuts to go into effect on March 1. The problem is that no one will know the full effect of sequestration for years to come although that will not deter anyone from making statements of opinion presented as facts shortly after the deadline. This has been one of the main problems facing education spending and legislation for years. The true effect of education spending and policy change cannot be measured until years after the fact.
If sequestration does in fact happen, which seems almost certain at this point, there will be some noise on the issue within a month. People will either be mad about delays at airports and must to services such as Meals on Wheels that the politicians will have to take notice of to retain voters or no one will say anything because they can still fly to Las Vegas with a minimum of a delay and the criticism of President Obama as “Chicken Little” will start.
The problem, however, is that flight delays are not a measure of the effects of sequestration. The cuts will really hit home with education but most people will not notice. After all, children cannot vote. That is why they often become the silent victims of politics. A child has no means of addressing being shut out of Head Start due to sequestration. Even parents are limited because they will not get a straight answer as to why their child cannot attend the program. Then, even when a complaint is made, how does one go about showing the harm when the full effect will not be known for at least another decade? Education is a good target for politicians as the problems that they create in education will not be felt until after they leave office and then it is someone else’s problem.
There will be quick judgment on sequestration based mainly on things such as flight delays. That is because politics is essentially a publicity play and it is much easier to recognize a flight being delayed than a child staying at home while her education is being delayed as politicians bicker. It is easy to forget those who have no voice. But if sequestration comes to pass as expected, here is an open invitation to anyone who will say that it is not a big deal. It does not matter if you are a Republican or Democrat. Get a list of the 700 children kept out of Head Start and come visit our state and meet each of these children and tell them that it is not a big deal. I will drive you around the state to meet them. I will even foot the bill. Our children may not be able to vote and thus mean nothing to the politicians, but they mean everything to me and the other parents of Minnesota. Maybe if a politician (or columnist, Mr. Will?) would take the time to meet them, they would mean something to our government and political pundits as well.