There is a lot of talk about the sequester this week, but most of it is between people trying to figure out the big question: What is a sequester?
According to the Huffington Post, the sequester is a set of automatic spending cuts put into law by the Budget Control Act. Well, what’s that? It’s a piece of legislation that raised the debt ceiling and sought to apply pressure on Congress to come up with a longer term plan for deficit reduction.
Sort of like a kid calling a bluff and dad sending him out to the street corner in a shirt that says, “I’m a brat” while taking money out of everyone’s wallet.
When does it start?
It already has. On 11:59 on March 1, the sequester went into effect to cut billions from the budget, and will be completely in effect within 30 days.
Who will feel it?
Pretty much everyone in some way will feel this. $550 billion will be directly from the military, taking away money for national security and military operations. Other places that are going to see deep cuts are non-profit organizations, food safety, mental health, small business growth, STOP Violence against Women program, Nutrition assistance for seniors, Customs and border patrol, scientific research programs, unemployment benefits, work study jobs, law enforcement, disaster relief, education, health care, job search and assistance, vaccines for children, public health, aviation safety, aviation security, emergency responders, oil and gas permitting, economic development, national parks, Title I education funds, special education, veteran’s programs, Social Security, national assistance for women, infants, and children, child care subsidies, rental assistance, homelessness programs, substance abuse services, protection for clean air and clean water, AIDS and HIV treatment and prevention, tribal services, head start, and more.
Who will not feel it?
No one. Everyone will feel it in one way or another. The $1.2 trillion in budget cuts would be spread over nine years and are equally divided between domestic and defense-related spending. During the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, $85 billion worth of cuts are set to go into effect. The budget cuts would end in 2021.
Why is this happening?
In 2011, the debt ceiling was raised. Republicans demanded budget cuts to be included. The Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (otherwise called the super committee in charge of figuring out how to implement the cuts called for in the Budget Control Act) couldn’t come to an agreement to cut $1.2 trillion from the budget. The sequester was supposed to be the worst case scenario to motivate Congress to figure something out. They failed, so here we are.
Can this be undone?
The Democrats and Republicans have to agree on a plan.
What can we do?
Come together to be heard. Let your state representatives, congressman, and anyone else who will listen know what programs are the most important to you and why. Don’t stop making noise. Education is already struggling to survive, and classrooms can’t afford to be any fuller. Programs like music and drama may have to find alternate funding through the community. Start attending your child’s Parent Teacher Student Organization meetings and become part of the solution. Plan accordingly with your finances. Strive to become debt free so that you can afford to survive deep cuts. Become an asset in your workplace. Be proactive in seeking solutions with the cards the government deals. Be heard.