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In Sequester Fight, Boehner's Willing to Sacrifice the Hostages

Photo courtesy of Rep. Ron Barber's congressional website.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) continues to lead the Republican charge to the March 1 deadline, when arbitrary, across-the-board sequestration cuts in everything from mental health services to public safety kick in. In a cynical drive to wring massive concessions in cuts from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Boehner and the Republicans are willing to inflict hardships on working families and bring disaster to the economy.

Boehner’s sequester could cost more than 750,000 private- and public-sector workers their jobs this year alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).  

Many of the threatened jobs are in the defense and defense-related industries, along with the ripple effect through the whole economy from rising unemployment. Some 275,000 federal workers could lose their jobs, says AFGE. On top of that, all federal workers are facing furloughs that are not only the equivalent of a 20% pay cut, but also mean an almost equal cut to vital government services.

While Boehner and company have long had the ax out for government workers, their willingness to run over average people just to protect tax loopholes for corporations and the wealthy is particularly callous. Here’s what will happen from Media Matters (H/t to Dave Johnson at the Campaign for America’s Future blog):

  • 70,000 children kicked off Head Start and 1.2 million kids seeing their schools lose education funds, which mean fewer teachers, crowded classrooms and less learning time. What if it’s your child’s school?
  • Emergency responders lose their jobs, which mean slower response times and weaker disaster preparedness. What if your neighborhood is the next one hit by a weather disaster?
  • Layoffs of airport traffic controllers and transportation security workers. Do you want longer lines and more hassles at the airport?
  • Layoffs at the U.S. Social Security Administration, which mean delays and hassles for seniors enrolling in Medicare or calling about their Social Security benefits. What if it’s your parents?
  • Up to 2,100 fewer food inspections. Do you want to worry about the safety of the food you put on your family’s dinner table?
  • Fewer FBI agents and law enforcement to protect our families from violent criminals. What if it’s your family?

What about the more vulnerable? Here’s what the Coalition on Human Needs says:

These indiscriminate across-the-board cuts (called “sequestration”) come on top of an average 7.6% cut in federal funds to states since 2010. The looming federal cuts would make things worse, hurting vulnerable people, shifting burdens to states and localities and threatening economic growth.

While Boehner’s corporate friends are being shielded from paying their fair share, here’s what's in store for the folks several rungs down the ladder.

  • Children and mothers losing WIC nutrition aid: 600,000;
  • Low-income families losing rental housing vouchers: 125,000;
  • Formerly homeless people losing housing: 100,000;
  • Children denied Head Start: 70,000;
  • Funding cut from Head Start: $406 million;
  • Children denied affordable child care: 30,000;
  • Cuts deep enough to end services to these many low-income K-12 children: 1.2 million;
  • Fewer people with disabilities served by Vocational Rehab: 75,700;
  • Fewer meals on wheels served to seniors: 4 million;
  • Adults and children with serious mental illness losing treatment: 373,000; and
  • Unemployment benefits cut for long-term unemployed: 9.4%.

Of course, all this could be averted. If Republicans really want a dollar-for-dollar match for the sequester, they can embrace Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) sequester replacement bill that would raise nearly $54 billion in taxes by implementing the Buffett Rule, setting a minimum effective tax rate for wealthy individuals and families. It also would raise revenues by ending the deductibility of moving expenses when corporations send jobs overseas.”

But that’s not likely to happen because, as Boehner told the Wall Street Journal, finding a fair solution to address the deficit and block the sequester is not the Republican goal. Cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is.

Boehner said:

This whole discussion on the budget over the next several months is going to be about these entitlements.

Working families are calling on their elected representatives to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from benefits cuts, repeal the sequester and make sure corporations and the wealthiest 2% pay their fair share through closing tax loopholes. 

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