It bothers me to read recent reports implying the budget sequestration has not been all that bad. While some dire consequences, such as furloughing federal prison guards, air traffic controllers and border patrol agents, have been avoided, one thing is now perfectly clear: poor and at-risk Americans are bearing the brunt of the funding cuts and there is no relief in sight. I want to link readers to a few resources that drive that point home.
Congress moved quickly to end furloughs causing delays at our nation’s airports, but there are still lines of people waiting for housing assistance, job training, or a slot for their child in a Head Start program. All of these programs offer critical services, and all suffered funding cuts due to sequestration.
Greg Kaufman, poverty correspondent for The Nation, and Moyers & Company, has kept a close eye on how low-income families are faring under budget cuts. Through a series called Sequester Watch, Moyers & Company has tracked the effects federal cuts are having on housing assistance, food programs for seniors, Head Start and job training programs.
I’ll list the articles and some of the interesting issues from the series here:
- Housing: Kaufman’s article, Mapping the Sequester’s Impact on Low-Income Housing, provides a map spotlighting over 60 stories on housing cuts from around the country. These stories demonstrate how cuts to housing subsidies and the withdrawal of vouchers are harming American communities. (For my previous post on the CBPP’s housing predictions and how budget cuts have impacted Muskogee, OK, click here.)
- Seniors: In Hunger and the Sequester, By the Numbers, we learn how Meals on Wheels alone saw cuts resulting in the loss of 4 million meals to seniors. The government saved $10 million by cutting these meals, but experts predict increased Medicaid costs associated with this lack of nutrition could cost $479 million. (For more details you can check out another Kaufman article on the subject, The Older Americans Act and U.S. Seniors.)
- Head Start: Denying a Head Start in Washington State is a story about children being dropped from Head Start programs, teachers being laid off and hours being cut from the program day. For working families, losing free child care can have drastic economic consequences. Both parents may no longer be able to work, and overall household income may suffer. Moreover, kids in low-income families miss learning the skills needed to start Kindergarten on par with their middle-and upper-income classmates. And finally, qualified Head Start teachers are added to the nation’s unemployment numbers. (Another Kaufman article on nearby Neodesha, KS can be found by clicking here. For more on the importance of Head Start, read our previous post on the issue.)
- Job Training: Losing Hope in Detroit talks about how job training is key to fighting high unemployment. Yet sequestration has even hit organizations and agencies that offer career training. The work of Focus: HOPE in Detroit is chronicled in Kaufman’s piece on job training, as well as how they are now struggling with budget cuts. If anything demonstrates how across-the-board budget cuts can work against economic recovery it has to be this.
The reporting done in Sequestration Watch confirms how budget cuts have hurt multiple programs serving children, seniors and average working-class Americans. Yet, there are still other stories to tell and other programs suffering from funding cuts. So you might expect to hear more from me on this topic in the future.