Republicans in Congress have made a choice—to put our economy at risk and sacrifice hundreds of thousands of jobs through their insistence on slashing vital services important to middle class Americans, our seniors, children, and men and women in uniform and their families, rather than agreeing to a balanced approach to reducing our deficit which includes smart spending cuts and eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans. The GOP-forced sequester cuts threaten our national security, put hundreds of thousands of middle class jobs at risk, and they threaten our economy.
Over the next few weeks middle class families will begin to feel the effects of this sequester. Seniors in need will not receive the food they count on, afterschool programs will be cut, thousands of teachers will be laid off, we’ll see reductions in treatment and support for mentally ill children, and Military families’ health care could be cut. The American people expect congressional Republicans to act and get something done consistent with what Americans want – as expressed in the polls and at the ballot box last November.
#GOPSequester Effects News Roundup
DEFENSE/ HOMELAND SECURITY
St. Louis Defense Industry Braces For Sequester
St. Louis Public Radio // By: Adam Allington
In the St. Louis region the defense industry occupies a large footprint. According to the White House figures 8,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $40.3 million in total. Across the river in Illinois like Scott Air Force Base in nearby Mascoutah, IL employs over 5,000 civilians, many of whom have already received warning of impending one day per week furloughs for the remainder of the fiscal year (Oct 1.) Speaking at Scott AFB earlier this week Illinois Senator Dick Durbin pointed out that the sequester was never meant to be applied as actual policy. “Sequestration is not a budget strategy, it was budget threat,” said Durbin. “We said, when we passed sequestration, it will be so bad it will never happen.” As reported in the Marketplace Morning Report, giant defense contractors, such as Boeing would be somewhat buffered from the immediate impacts of the sequester. Boeing maintains a workforce of about 15,000 employees in the St. Louis region. “The way the Pentagon awards contracts, that money spends out over actually a longer period of time.” Says Roman Schweizer, Defense Policy Analyst at Guggenheim Securities. “So the brunt of that 9 percent cut would be spread over the course of anywhere from one to three to five years.”
Sequester budget creates uncertainty, worry in Texas military communities
Fort Worth Star Telegram // Alex Branch
The federal budget ax is poised to chop $46 billion from defense spending, and communities around Texas military bases are bracing for the impact. Automatic budget cuts that could start Friday would furlough 52,000 civilian Defense Department employees and cause $275 million in lost gross annual pay in Texas, according to White House projections. The Army said its reductions could result in a $2.4 billion economic loss in Texas. Some Republicans question whether President Barack Obama and the Pentagon have overstated the effects of the budget sequester, but leaders in military communities say they expect fallout. "There is a lot of uncertainty right now, and that always causes concern," said John Crutchfield, president of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, which sits next to Fort Hood. "Many of the people stationed at the base live in our community, so when something happens to them, it is felt in the community."
Furloughs could be coming soon for North Alabama
From small towns to big cities leaders around the nation are bracing for sequestration especially military communities like Huntsville. "DOD is very important to all of North Alabama,” said Battle, “It’s probably 50% of all of our gross domestic product that comes out of this area." "Many of the defense industries and firms are furloughing their employees or considering that, which essentially means one day a week they won’t work and of course they won’t get paid for that one day a week," explained Economist and UAH Professor Dr. Al Wilhite. He says the indiscriminate cuts make an already bad situation worse. "If we would eliminate lets say 2 or 3 of the attack submarines that we were going to build over the next 10 years that would have a much smaller impact on our economy than if we just say ‘Ok you people that are working right now are getting a pay cut.’" But with no compromise on the horizon it appears that the budget cuts will kick in at midnight Friday night. Mayor Battle says it is not only the department of defense that will feel the pain. "The overall affect even comes down to your school board it costs your school board about $1 million— $1, 700,000 here in the city of Huntsville.” And that could mean fewer positions available for teachers and teacher’s aids.
A scene from Quantico, on the front line of ‘sequestration’s’ looming cuts
Washington Post // By: Jeremy Borden
Quantico or “Q-Town,” just 500 strong, sits in the center of the Marine Corps base, a picture of small town Virginia Defense contractors are more than a third of his business — and if their salary gets cut, he said he knows his barber chair is an afterthought. “It will trickle down to everybody, just like everything else,” Carr said. “We’re the bottom guys on the totem poll.” A Marine at the bar in his fatigues, munching on a salad and sipping a Coke, had a different view. Let the cuts come, he said. Eisenhower, he preached, warned against the growth of the “military industrial complex,” and the United States didn’t heed his words, said the Marine, who said he couldn’t be named because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media. He said he’s got Marines under him that can get projects on base done in half the time he pays civilian contractors to do the same job. George Qura pushes back. Those civilians are the little guys. They’re raising families and working hard. They both agree on one thing: The contractors are Northern Virginia’s lifeblood. Cut them out, and “your civilian populace would go into shambles,” the Marine said.
Naval shipyard workers in Maine anxious amid budget stalemate
Kittery, Maine — They don't care which side caused Washington's latest crisis.
Five hundred miles from Capitol Hill, the men and women of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are worrying about paying rent, searching for new jobs and caring for sick loved ones. Almost the entire workforce, a community of more than 5,000 along the Maine and New Hampshire seacoast, is preparing to lose the equivalent of a month's pay because of Congress' inability to resolve another budget stalemate. Orsom "Butch" Huntley, 63, a shipyard employee for three decades, is already living paycheck to paycheck while caring for his terminally ill wife. "Congress doesn't look at the individual. They just look at the bottom line. And it just really makes it tough to think we're just a number to them," Huntley, a computer engineer, said this week in a restaurant outside the shipyard gate. "It's going to be totally devastating." The fear is consuming military communities as the nation braces for budget cuts designed to be so painful they would compel Congress to find better ways to cut the federal deficit. Preparing for a worst-case scenario, Navy officials have plans to force mandatory furloughs on roughly 186,000 civilian employees across the country. People like Huntley and Do would lose 22 paid days between April and October, or roughly 20 percent of their pay. Shipyards from coast to coast have outlined cost-cutting plans to delay huge maintenance contracts on nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers.
Cuts Mean Veterans Wait Longer for Arlington Burial
The ten percent sequestration cuts across the Department of Defense budget will increase wait times at Arlington National Cemetery, a cemetery spokesperson told USNI News on Thursday. Due to the cuts funerals will drop from 31 interments a day to 24, or about 160 less funerals a month, according to preliminary estimates from the cemetery. “That reduction would impact wait times as well, which currently range from 30-days for burials without honors to three months for full honors,” read a statement provided by the cemetery.
Sequester cuts to impact SD senior meals
KFSY ABC//COURTNEY COLLEN
Passing the sequester deadline could mean $214,000 cut from Federal funding for meals provided to seniors. Over at Active Generations, those cuts translate into just under 11,000 meals cut for one year. If you did the math for 240 working days, that's about 45 meals per day for one year. Nutrition Director Melissa Townsend said the idea of cuts to our state is troublesome especially when it comes to taking money away for senior meals.
Active Generations has a donation-based program which relies heavily on, not just state and federal funding, but client donations along with additional fundraising. With today's rising cost of gas and food, Townsend said those donations are hard to come by. A lingering sequestration only adds to that concern. Each meal provides 1/3 of the R.D.I's or Recommended Dietary Intake for seniors.
Vaccinations, seniors' meals among health programs sequester would affect
The across-the-board federal sequestration cuts that are set to occur automatically on Friday have the Minnesota Department of Health “very concerned,” according to MDH Commissioner Dr. Edward Ehlinger. “Over 50 percent of our state health department budget comes from federal dollars,” Ehlinger said Wednesday in a telephone response to a MinnPost inquiry. “We’re going to feel an impact on almost all of our programs.” In an effort to pressure Republications to come to the negotiation table about sequestration, the White House issued a report earlier this week that includes details of the effects that some of the health-related cuts will have in Minnesota this year alone.
Analysis: DC Sequester Cuts Texas Seniors' Medicare-Funded Nursing Home Care $51 Million
With federal sequester cuts scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, March 1st, an analysis by the nonpartisan health policy research firm Avalere Health for the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home finds Texas seniors' Medicare funded skilled nursing facility (SNF) care will be reduced by $51 million for FY 2014. The U.S. total is $782.5 million.
Combined with other federal budget and regulatory changes made since 2009, Texas' Medicare funded nursing home care will be reduced $240 million annually as detailed by attached chart. "With the sequester just hours away, it is important to convey to Texas lawmakers that the sequester cuts are just one in a series of major federal budget and regulatory actions that add up to significant cumulative Medicare cuts to Texas seniors -- and $65.6 billion cumulative Medicare reductions nationally over ten years," stated Alan G. Rosenbloom, President of the Alliance.
Sequester Cuts to Reach Seniors
Twins Falls Times-News // Melissa Davlin
Like all agencies dependent on federal money, the College of Southern Idaho Office on Aging is keeping a close eye on D.C. And like most agency managers, Director Jim Fields isn’t quite sure how the apparently inevitable budget cuts will shake out, or how big the reductions will be. But he and others are preparing for some tough decisions that will affect Magic Valley seniors in light of federal sequestration, which is expected to take effect today. The Office on Aging’s pool of money helps pay for multiple programs, including meals and food delivery at area senior centers, gas for volunteers who drive seniors to appointments, and respite care for full-time family caregivers. Fields said he has heard multiple figures on how much the state will lose in senior funding. Based on last year’s numbers, Fields calculated a maximum of $87,000 in cuts as the worst case, spread among his district’s eight counties. That will affect 15 senior centers and 3 satellite senior programs.
Medical Researchers in California Worry about Sequestration's Effects
Medical researchers in California are concerned about the effect that mandated spending cuts under sequestration could have on federally funded research projects, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports Under sequestration, $1.6 billion will be cut from NIH's budget for funding research initiatives. Tom Otis -- professor and vice chair of the Department of Neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA -- said that his federally funded $2 million research project on the cerebellum is in jeopardy. He said that NIH officials told him "that if the sequester went forward, the project wouldn't be funded." Stephen Gruber -- director of the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center -- said he also is concerned about how the sequester will affect research efforts. He said, "Cancer rates are declining, and at this point and time we can't afford to diminish our investment," adding, "It's just paying too many dividends to patients and to the public's health to cut that funding."
Looming federal spending cuts will hit hospitals where it hurts
MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS//TONY PUGH
Hospitals across the country will face significant job losses, service reductions and other belt-tightening measures when President Barack Obama signs the order Friday implementing a series of automatic budget cuts. More than 4,200 hospitals that are among the largest employers in their communities would lose nearly $3 billion under the Medicare cuts this year, according to an analysis by iVantage Health Analytics, a Maine health care research firm. That could trigger the loss of 73,000 hospital jobs nationwide and tip the operating margins of nearly 100 hospitals from positive to negative, the company estimates. Even though most hospitals are designated as “not-for-profit,” it’s important that their revenue match or exceed their costs in order to remain financially viable. Personnel is where many hospitals will begin paring costs to offset the cuts, because wages and salaries account for about 60 percent of a typical hospital’s budget. The 110-bed Caldwell Memorial Hospital in rural Lenoir, N.C., expects to lose $1 million in Medicare payments because of the mandatory budget cuts. Various provisions of the 2010 health care overhaul law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a drop in federal support for indigent care and other funding declines will chop another $3 million in federal support from Caldwell’s budget this year. At Loma Linda medical center, officials are weighing service cutbacks as they try to fill a $3.5 million to $4 million cut in their Medicare funding that could make the hospital unprofitable this year. With 7,000 employees, Loma Linda is also likely to cut jobs through attrition and other means, rather than through direct layoffs, said chief financial officer Steve Mohr. In Potosi, Mo., the 25-bed Washington County Memorial Hospital also will rely on attrition to thin the ranks. It faces a $144,000 cut in Medicare funds.
Pending cuts hit close to home for local family
FDL REPORTER//LAURIE RITGER
Across-the-board federal spending cuts expected to kick in today threaten numerous positions and programs, including cancer research that has benefited a local teen. Fond du Lac High School senior Ian Lock, 18, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, when he was 16. He was injured while playing in a football game and the tumor was found in its early stages. Treatments were successful and Ian has resumed doing nearly everything he had done before the cancer. Ian Lock hopes there will be changes to the pending spending cuts. “I just think about, with my cancer story, how things could have been different (for the worse) if some of the research that went into my chemo treatment had never been done,” he said. “There are advances that could be made in the future with the funding they get now.” Ian said the cuts are “not just another budget,” and have become personal. “Feeling the benefits of these dollars that go toward (research) really puts it in a new perspective,” he said. “It could mean the lives of people that don’t get treatments that could be developed through this research.” Ian’s mother, Kay Lock, said her son has been part of three studies with his cancer and treatments.
Sequester: Deadline arrives, O'Hare travelers' concern grows
FOX 32 NEWS//JOANIE LUM
At O'Hare International Airport, travelers say they are concerned about the government budget cuts. TSA agents will be furloughed and that means there would be longer wait times at the airport. Travelers worry that the cuts will impact safety. Travelers at O'Hare Airport could experience delays of up to 90 minutes. A control tower and a runway could also be closed. The White House indicates other control towers around the state could close. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says safety will never be compromised. The budget cuts are expected to cause delays for air travelers. The Gary South Shore Air Show could also be one of the victims of sequestration. The air show executives said they would be making a decision soon about its fate this year. The air show relies on a majority of acts that come from the U.S. military. Under sequestration, the military would suspend its participation in all air shows.
Sequester may shut down Punta Gorda airport tower
SARASOTA HERALD TRIBUNE//MICHAEL POLLICK
Punta Gorda Airport, whose $4 million air traffic control tower has only been operational for a little over a year, will have to shut it down in April as part of the far-reaching federal budget cuts that began taking effect Friday. Operations at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where the Federal Aviation Administration runs the tower directly, are not expected to be impacted anytime soon, said chief executive Frederick “Rick” Piccolo. His biggest concern is that planned furloughs by the Transportation Safety Administration at larger airports could have a ripple effect here. Under already announced plans, the FAA intends to stop funding flight control staffing at Punta Gorda and 99 other smaller airport tower operations. The tower at Punta Gorda is manned by a private company, Robinson Aviation Inc., with funding from the FAA.
25 Texas airports face major sequester cuts; Bush Intercontinental fliers brace for 90 minute delays
Texas air travelers will encounter longer lines, cancelled flights and shuttered airports, in some cases, if Congress fails to act before the looming March 1 deadline. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that major cuts will be made to the Federal Aviation Administration if the budget sequester takes effect on March 1. In preparing to reduce its expenditures by $600 million, LaHood outlined four major changes that would be made: Furlough 47,000 employees for approximately one day per pay period through September. Eliminate midnight shifts in over 60 towers. Close over 100 air traffic control towers. Reduce preventative maintenance and equipment provisioning and support for all NAS equipment. The budget cuts will also affect the larger state airports like George Bush Intercontinental and DFW International through flight delays.
Local education, airports to be hurt by sequestration cuts
Among cuts in Illinois: $33.4 million for education, $27.4 million for teachers who help students with disabilities, $83.5 million in military salaries, and smaller cuts to public health and law enforcement programs. Those include downstate airports, Peace Meal home-delivered food and Showbus programs. Central Illinois Regional Airport and Decatur Airport are on the list for tower closures if the full cuts proceed. Paul Harmon, Bloomington-Normal Airport Authority Chairman, said the airport still can take flights if CIRA’s tower closes, but will have to cancel more of them in inclement weather. Michael O’Donnell, executive director of East Central Area Agency on Aging, said groups like his are faced with making a year’s worth of cuts in half the time. “A decision to cut funding is always difficult, but deferring it to a later date makes the administration of those cuts more difficult,” O’Donnell said. One beneficiary of those funds is the Peace Meal program, which delivers meals to elderly and disabled people in counties throughout Central Illinois. Assistant Director Barb Seagren said the organization receives as much as a third of its funding from state and federal money. Peace Meal helps elderly people to remain in their own homes.
Airports big and small may feel effects of federal budget feud
LOS ANGELES TIMES // HUGO MARTIN
Get ready for longer lines at Los Angeles International Airport, slower delivery of packages and the possible shutdown of small Southern California airport control towers if a resolution isn't reached on federal budget cuts. The good news is that the biggest effects probably will not take hold until April, giving President Obama and congressional leaders time to hammer out a deal to resolve the budget feud. But if no agreement is reached, the Federal Aviation Administration will be forced to cut its budget about $600 million. That could force the FAA to close more than 100 air traffic control towers across the country, primarily at smaller regional airports, including in Santa Monica, Victorville and Oxnard. The National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. expects the cuts to lead to fewer flights and increased delays of as long as 90 minutes during peak hours. The FAA has announced plans to shut down towers at airports with fewer than 150,000 landings and takeoffs a year. Santa Monica Airport, which is on the FAA closure list, operates about 105,000 landings and takeoffs a year. Van Nuys Airport, which is not on the list, has more than 250,000 landings and takeoffs.
Park cuts could hurt Jackson
JACKSON HOLE NEWS//ANGUS M. THUERMER JR.
Gateway communities such as Jackson could suffer significant economic impact as families alter summer vacation plans because of a budget impasse, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis warned in a memo to agency employees. The letter to all park employees, dated Tuesday, was the clearest outline to date of the agency’s view of effects to parks and neighboring towns. Press conferences, other leaked memos and interpretations of agency statements in recent days have sometimes been in conflict or caused confusion. In Jarvis’ memo, he lamented the state of the political struggle as he reviewed the “grim reality” of the looming crisis. If Congress and the White House haven’t come to an agreement over “sequestration” by today, the Park Service will lose 5 percent — $134 million — of the money it expected to get. An impasse “will have long-term and wide-ranging effects,” Jarvis wrote. “A drop in visitation could have devastating effects on the economies of gateway communities who depend on visitor spending and shut down park lodging, food, and other services provided by concessionaires who support 25,000 jobs,” the memo states.
Sequestration designed to impact park experience
TRAIL GAZETTE//WALT HESTER
Pain is the whole point. When lawmakers agreed to the across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect on March 1, they knew going in that popular, as well as unpopular programs would get the ax. The law was designed to put the heat on Congress. Many in Congress, around the nation and in Estes Park, are not impressed. They believe it can be absorbed or worked around. George Carle, manager of the Rocky Mountain Gateway, for one, does not feel it will have much impact on the business, located about 1,000 feet from the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. "I don't know how it's going to affect us here." says Carle. "I know they factored in some cuts already. I think it's anybody's guess. The biggest impact will be psychological.
Many, like Carle, feel that cuts within the national park can be found that won't directly affect the public directly. The budget cuts, however, were intentionally designed to do just that.
The cuts are across the board and effect everything within the park. The law that brought the cuts about give administrators almost no independence. As a result, everyone will feel the burden.
"The amount to be sequestered for Rocky Mountain National Park is projected to be 5 percent ($623,200) of park funding, “said the park's public information officer, Kyle Patterson.
Boston’s Federal Workers Fear Sequester Furloughs
WBUR (NPR)//CURT NICKISCH
Thousands of people work in the John F. Kennedy Federal Building at Boston’s Government Center. It’s actually twin 26-story buildings. Bethany Seed said she’s not looking forward to Monday, when she might be handed a furlough notice. “For me, personally, a furlough would be a problem because I’d still be paying for full-time child care,” Seed said. “And I’d be losing my pay from work. So it’s not something I would like to see happen.” Seed is an economist with the U.S. Department of Labor. When you hear things like jobless numbers, she works on those statistics. Her boss — not her director supervisor, but way up the chain — is Seth Harris, the acting U.S. labor secretary, who was visiting Boston Thursday. “Unfortunately, a sizable number of my workers are going to be subject to furloughs,” Harris said. “It’s going to vary from agency to agency across the department. We’re going to lose about six days of work from our employees on average. That’s a big loss.”
Union leader says sequester will affect thousands of MI jobs
Karla Swift, the President of the Michigan State AFL-CIO, says that the federal budget sequester -- deep automatic cuts brought on by Congress' failure to reach a spending agreement -- will affect over 30 thousand jobs in this state alone. That's because federal workers will be sent on some furlough days, in some cases meaning a 20 percent reduction in their pay. Swift also says that a variety of services -- from early childcare to food safety -- will be hit.
Two agencies send early-bird furlough notices
WASHINGTON POST // ERIC YODER
Two federal agencies that formally notified their employees of possible furloughs even in advance of sequestration taking effect warned of the potential for 14 and 22 unpaid days off.
The Justice Department and the National Labor Relations Board both issued notices ahead of “furlough Friday,” with the former notifying at least some of its employees, in U.S. Attorney’s offices, as early as Feb. 20. According to that notice, those employees would be furloughed a total of 14 workdays, starting the week of April 21 through the end of the fiscal year in September. It also says that the number of furlough days could vary among the department’s components because of differences in budgets among them.The agency acted before March 1 in order to have “maximum flexibility,” she said. Furlough notices give employees 30 days of advance warning.
Needham braces for potential sequester cuts
GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE//WEI-HUAN CHEN
Local officials are bracing for the impact a series of automatic federal budget cuts set for March 1, known as sequestration, would bring to Needham. Needham schools face losing $142,000 in federal grants next fiscal year if Congress allows across-the-board cuts in the federal government’s spending budget to go into effect. Either the programs that depend on those grants will be cut — resulting in layoffs to staff in special education, in programs for disadvantaged students and in teaching improvement — or the town will have to find another way to pay for them, most likely through taxpayer dollars, said officials. Town staff members aren’t sure what other direct impacts Needham faces, although they’re quick to name transportation, health services, employment and the state education budget as just some of the things in jeopardy if sequestration occurs.
Sequester means big hit for education, but other local impacts minimal -- for now
ABC 9 CINCINNATI//KEVIN OSBORNE
Many Tri-State residents won’t feel any immediate effects of the massive federal spending cuts known as the sequester begin taking effect Friday. But anyone with school age children likely will feel the pinch. The across-the-board cuts will have a quicker impact on teachers who are employed using some federal funds, meaning layoffs could occur. And some special education and preschool programs would be stopped. In fact, education is the biggest loser if the sequestration happens. Colleges and universities will face a significant loss of revenue as research grants are stopped. “We use federal funds to provide most of the programs for our disadvantaged students,” she added. One of the programs provides free or reduced price lunches for low-income students. Of the district’s 33,700 students, 73 percent live under the poverty line and qualify for those programs. Also, the White House has said 350 teachers would lose their jobs across Ohio. Nationally, 10,000 teachers would be affected, along with 7,500 support positions like teacher’s aides. Another sequester casualty will be Head Start early childhood education programs. It offers free preschool education for children ages 3-5. Locally, the program is operated by the Community Action Agency. It serves more than 3,600 children countywide. Agency officials estimate they could lose about $1.9 million, which means 300 children would be dropped from the program.
Sequester just one of the financial issues Michigan schools face
The Sequester takes effect today and it’s reportedly going impact urban school districts that depend on federal funding for small classroom programs in poorer neighborhoods and special education. But Kalamazoo Schools finance Director Gary Start says he has never seen any specific figures on how it may affect the local district. They are still hoping that in a few weeks Congress will work something out. Start says they are far more concerned about the Governor’s recommendation to only increase their foundation grant by 2% this year, telling School Trustees last night that it amounts to a cut, because it doesn’t even cover their cost increases.