President Barack Obama has spent much of the past few weeks campaigning against the upcoming sequester, painting a dire picture for Americans of the painful budget cuts soon to come. The day of the deadline has now arrived, and Congress has packed up for the weekend. By 11:59 pm tonight, the sequester budget cuts become reality.
The federal budget will bleed out $85 billion over the next 10 months. Over the course of this year, non-defense programs will face a nine percent cut. Defense programs, 13 percent. The dollar amount cut is even across defense and non-defense programs; the US’s defense budget is just smaller, resulting in a greater proportion feeling the damage.
The sequester cuts are designed to be carried out over the course of 10 years, resulting in $1.2 trillion in total.
Some entitlements are spared entirely. Citizens awaiting social security checks in the mail will find the same amount as before. College students can still rely on Pell grants, while lower income families can still rely on food stamps and Medicaid.
On the other hand, many more people may soon need food stamps and Medicaid. Sequester budget cuts may cost many people their jobs. Over 100,000 people may end up homeless after cuts to shelters, housing vouchers, and rural rent assistance.
The Federal Aviation Administration will receive a $600 million funding cut, resulting in fewer air-traffic controllers and fewer flights. The Travel Security Administration will also be hit, resulting in fewer workers and longer lines.
Cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will suffer from 2,700 unfilled positions and 1,400 fewer contractors, impacting their ability to handle large-scale weather forecasting. This comes at a time when a powerful hurricane plummeted the Northeast late in hurricane season and record-breaking snowstorms are burying the Midwest. Cuts to the Department of Agriculture mean less wildfire prevention, and fewer inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration increase the risk of workplace injuries.
Prisons, immigration, preventative health care, child care, federal investigations, and so much more are all affected by these budget cuts. There are many in Washington who are happy to see the federal government take such a sizable hit, but President Obama is not one of those people. President Obama’s sequester fears will come true by midnight tonight, and he will have to govern through his new political reality.
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