When we were nearing the dreaded jump off the fiscal cliff, it was nearly impossible to bump into anyone who didn’t know what was going on with the negotiations in Congress. Everyone was urging Congress to reach a compromise and nobody was going to sit back and allow the country to tumble off the fiscal cliff.
If you ask someone about the sequester however, you will probably get a blank stare or a confused look.
The Pew Research Center less than 18 percent of Americans actually understand the sequester very well, which means there are over 80 percent of Americans who aren’t as knowledgeable of the impending economic threat as they need to be. Out of those 80 percent you can only imagine how many of them aren’t even worried about the sequester simply because they aren’t even sure of what it impact it will have on them.
The sequester doesn’t have a fancy name or a cool phrase to go along with it like “over the fiscal cliff” which means it didn’t really become a popular household topic. While it has been covered on many news stations it hasn’t been presented in nearly as negatively as the fiscal cliff fiasco, yet it will change the lives of millions of Americans if it kicks into effect on Friday.
Not to mention the fact that the wealthy corporations who are in charge of the media aren’t concerned about sequestration because it doesn’t involve any increase in taxes. The wealthy will be largely unaffected by the government spending cuts which means their media corporations aren’t too concerned about reporting on the matter thoroughly. Sometimes we have to remember that many media outlets (even the ones on TV that sell promises of being unbiased and fair) are used to push political agendas and nobody wants to use their platform to put a stop to sequestration if they aren’t the ones at risk for losing anything.
So what is it?
The sequester is a complicated way to say “automatic cuts for government spending.” For some people that sounds like a good thing, but that’s because they may not really understand what programs are benefitting from government spending.
Spending for education, unemployment, housing, nutritional programs, and much more will lose millions (and some billions) of dollars if the sequester hits.
President Obama has been sending out warning after warning of how detrimental the sequester could be to the economic state of the U.S, but it doesn’t seem like the nation his heading his warnings – and we’re running out of time.
In about three days, thousands of schools all across the country will receive massive cuts and thousands of school employees will be out of a job.
Programs that help create jobs such as the Build America Bonds program will risk being cut all together.
Medical research will come to a slow crawl as even national research facilities will be receiving billion dollar cuts to their budgets. That means the cure to cancer and efficient treatments will be that much further away from becoming a reality.
Many Americans are underestimating the devastating effects that the sequester would have simply because it doesn’t involve any actually tax increases, but when you consider how many programs will be non-existent taxes will be the least of the average family’s concerns.
While every American citizen should be worried about how the sequester will impact them, there are some key demographics (including minorities and women) who will be hit hardest by the automatic government spending decrease.
How communities of color will be hit especially hard by the sequester:
Unemployment benefits will be slashed and with 13.8 percent of blacks and 10.5 percent of Latinos being unemployed, they would be the ones who suffer the most. What makes matters even worse is the fact that most unemployed Asians, blacks, and Latinos remained unemployed for more than 52 weeks.
It would also be incredibly difficult for many minorities to find work because many programs that create jobs would also receive staggering cuts to their budget.
Housing programs have already received over $2 billion in cuts, since 2010 and another slash could mean hundreds of low income families being put out on the streets.
Those who weren’t out on the streets would risk being in poor living conditions thanks to major cuts to programs such as the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program. Programs like LIHEAP help keep over 20 million families with AC in the summer and heat in the winter. The sequester would mean all 23 million of those low income families have to find a way to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer without aid from the government.
Click here for a full list of how the sequester would hit communities of color the hardest.
You can also see how much money would be cut from your state’s educational budget here.
The sequester may not sound cool or interesting or even be as easy to pronounce as fiscal cliff, but it’s dire to the fate of our economy that we urge Congress to reach a compromise and reach it quickly.