Let's stop the craziness: Tell your House member that the best solution to the current budget crisis is to cancel the sequester right now. H.R. 900, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), would do just that with one simple sentence that would cancel the sequester and thereby halt $85 billion in disastrous cuts this year to programs on which women and their families disproportionately depend.
Time is short -- the sequester is already in effect, and reductions in federal funding resulting in employee furloughs, reduced services and curtailed programs will soon be felt. Tell your House member to please sponsor, support and vote for Conyers' H.R. 900 "Cancel the Sequester Act." Take action NOW!
The Budget Control Act of 2011 put in place what many considered to be a painful future consequence of the failure to produce a bipartisan federal budget and deficit reduction agreement. Democrats hoped that the Republicans would be so embarrassed by the public reaction to across-the-board cuts that they would relent and agree to raise taxes. However, that may not be the outcome: Right-wing Republicans who want to see federal government spending cut to the bone are "lovin' it." Conservative Republican leaders may be willing to let the sequester continue without much concern for reaching a budget agreement with the Democrats anytime soon.
A Train Wreck - The prospect of a $85 billion reduction in federal spending this year -- on top of the ongoing $1 trillion-plus in spending cuts adopted as part of the Budget Control Act -- is very serious. Gross Domestic Product for 2013 could be reduced by half a percentage point, costing the economy a loss of one million jobs over the next two years. While the economic effects of sequester may not be immediately felt -- certainly not like jumping off the fiscal cliff -- the effect will be more be like a slow-moving train wreck.
The White House released a state-by-state report on the sequester's effects that provides the grim details. Here are a few:
» The STOP program under the Violence Against Women Act would lose more than $6 million; the Department of Justice has estimated that more than $20 million to its VAWA programs would be slashed. Funds for VAW programs in every state would see reductions.
» Some $600 million would be eliminated from the nutrition programs for low-income pregnant women and mothers and at-risk families, affecting all states.
» The Maternal Child Health Bureau, Title V block grant, will be cut by $100 million, affecting more than 40 million women, infants and children with special health care needs and forcing rural clinics to close.
» Almost 60,000 children will lose access to Head Start and other early-education programs for low-income families; children with disabilities program cuts range as high as $62.9 million per state.
» Every state would lose at least $1 million in funding for public primary and secondary schools; some states (Georgia, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and California) are facing funding cuts of more than $20 million each.
Women's Employment Threatened - Women make up the majority of public sector workers in the U.S. and experienced enormous job losses in the recession. Only recently have women workers begun to recover jobs. But with the sequester, an estimated 750,000 public sector jobs could be lost in 2013 alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Austerity is a Mistake - We have seen how economically devastating austerity measures have been across Europe. The United States cannot make the same mistake. Rep. John Conyer's H.R. 900, the Cancel the Sequester Act, can put a stop to the automatic cuts and prevent the GOP from further attacking programs that are vital to the economic, social and personal health of women across the country. Cancelling the sequester would also prevent the Democrats from making a bad deal while backed into a corner.
Deficit Reduction is Wrong Solution - The federal deficit can be reduced over time by growing the economy, expanding employment and increasing federal revenues. Slashing government spending at this time is absolutely the wrong solution. Urge your representative to co-sponsor and support the Cancel the Sequester Act to give our government time to assemble a more thoughtful and productive budget agreement that will not harm the economy.
Please contact your House member, whether Democrat or Republican, and strongly urge them to sponsor and help get this bill adopted. Don't forget to let them know you are a voter in their district.
» How the Sequester Will Hurt Women and Children, Ms. Magazine
» Sequestration: Another False Choice, by Terry O'Neill, Huffington Post