Sequestration’s Here. Now What?

March 07, 2013

As of last Friday, March 1, we’ve entered the age of “sequestration,” or across-the-board cuts to domestic and defense spending. (For more information about how we got here, check out our Budget 101 blog series.) If the sequester continues unabated between now and September 30, $85 billion will be cut in federal spending. The numbers shake out like this:

2013 Sequester Breakdown Graph

Credit: Dylan Matthews, The Washington Post

These aren’t thoughtful cuts to wasteful programs. Instead, the cuts take the “meat cleaver” approach, just slashing. For example, if sequestration continues this year, it will have a drastic impact on many programs that are relevant to AAUW priorities:

  • The National Institutes of Health would get cut by $1.6 billion.
  • Head Start would get cut by $406 million, kicking 70,000 kids out of the program.
  • Special education would be cut by $840 million.
  • The National Science Foundation would get cut by about $388 million.
  • Global health programs would be cut by $433 million; the Millennium Challenge Corporation would see a $46 million cut, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would see a cut of about $291 million.

A recent Senate report found that sequestration will have substantial effects on public health, including

  • 5 million fewer families served through the Maternal and Child Health block grant
  • 659,476 fewer people tested for HIV
  • 221,958 fewer children vaccinated through the child Immunization Grant program
  • 33,816 fewer women tested for breast and cervical cancer
  • 17 million fewer meals served to seniors

The sequester would also endanger important civil rights protections by cutting the budgets of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs, and the Offices for Civil Rights at each federal agency. In this tough economy, it is critical that the government make civil rights enforcement a priority because many workers are even more reluctant to speak up for themselves in the workplace when jobs are scarce.

Piggy Bank with back to school messageAAUW understands that between upcoming fiscal deadlines and concerns about the economy, these are difficult times to manage a federal budget. Yet we are concerned that indiscriminately slashing federal spending could weaken critical programs that benefit millions of Americans and our nation’s bottom line. AAUW believes that the best way to reduce the country’s deficit is to create jobs and increase revenues and to close corporate tax loopholes while continuing the current tax rates for the middle class.

AAUW is a nonpartisan organization, but we’re also multipartisan, representing a variety of political affiliations and viewpoints. Despite our differences, AAUW members come together to get things done and serve our communities. Congress should do the same. AAUW members want Congress to support budget policies that further the principles of fairness and fiscal responsibility and protect women and their families.

Beth Scott By:   |   March 07, 2013