As sequestration looms at the end of the week Republicans and Democrats are in damage control mode over who is to blame. I have news for them: they’re all to blame. The concept of austerity budget cuts actually came from the White House, was signed by the President and passed with bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. The consequences are going to be severe and will throw the country back into recession as 2 million direct jobs are lost. When you add the losses from the economic ripple effect we will all the progress attained the last four years. When another 2 million people lose their jobs they won’t be buying things, the consumer markets will be further damaged and costs such as food stamps and unemployment will rise.
Here in Pennsylvania we will see $47.8 million in education funding resulting in losses of 620 teachers on top of the 14,000 already laid off due to Gov. Gasbag’s wholesale cuts in K12 funding. 3,160 work/study jobs for college students will result in many of them dropping out of their higher education careers. Head Start cuts will hit 2,300 children in the Commonwealth.
As pollution from Marcellus shale drilling pours methane into our air and carcinogens into our ground and rivers we’ll lose $5.7 million in environmental funding. Civilians working for the Department of Defense will lose their jobs too to the tune of 26,000 people. Tobyhanna Army Depot will be hard hit. Grants to law enforcement agencies will also be cut ($509,000). Other federal programs such as vaccines for children, child care and job search assistance will also be gone.
Sequestration is taking an axe to federal spending by imposing austerity, a program which has failed everywhere it has been implemented. Our number one problem isn’t the deficit it is the lack of jobs. Instead of creating jobs we’re cutting them. By increasing federal spending, creating jobs and replacing our crumbling infrastructure, we would stimulate the economy and expand tax revenues as people return to the workforce.
The primary drivers of the federal budget deficit were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush tax cuts and the Bush Recession. Some f the tax cuts have been repealed though 85% of them were made permanent. The war in Afghanistan continues to bleed us financially and we’re doing nothing significant to stimulate the economy. Putting people back to work and, thusly, paying taxes, will return many of the lost revenues. Combine that with increased tax rates for the richest Americans to reduce income inequality and political stability, closing loopholes for corporations so they begin paying their share of taxes and stopping tax breaks for offshoring jobs will all do much to close the deficit. Austerity will only make things worse ad the deficit will again being to increase again.
If you’re going to be flying soon (and I don’t recommend it) get to the airport several hours before your flight. Air traffic controllers will be cut by 20% along with TSA employees. Getting through airport security will be even more time consuming and who knows how planes might crash into each other?