Getting This Sequester Started: How Day-to-Day Folks Are Faring

It still may seem like an abstract idea, but the impact is real

   

NewLetters Getting This Sequester Started: How Day to Day Folks Are FaringAfter much ado and arguing, sequestration … well, it happened. On the first of the month, $85 billion in across-the-board government cuts went into effect.

We’ve had a few weeks to digest the reality, and the reactions vary across the board.

Many say that, despite our eye-popping deficit, the sequester wasn’t even necessary since higher taxes and lower spending are shrinking the deficit on their own.

Breaking it down more specifically, some also argue that previous projections for skyrocketing healthcare costs are overhyped, as a steep decline in growth has taken place more recently. With that in mind, cuts targeting this so-called “budget-buster” might not be quite as urgent.

Some chatter is less about the effects of sequestration on the budget, and more about the political aftermath: Obama’s slipping approval rating, criticism of the GOP and concerns for and from individual lawmakers.

Representatives Bill Enyhart and Rodney Davis out of Illinois, for example, are both already feeling heat from constituents and are worried about re-election, according to Politico.

Of course, that speaks to the reality of the sequester: It’s far more than an “abstract political fight.” Instead, “on the ground, the cuts are real,” as Politico aptly put it. While, sure, that makes the political consequences real too, concerned congressmen are just a domino effect of the tough reality countless day-to-day folks are facing.

With that in mind, take a look at just a few of the still-debated (and maybe unnecessary, if you ask some) sequester effects:

  • As if students weren’t weighed down by loans enough already, fees on Direct PLUS loans from the government will now be hiked even higher. Sure, it will only add another $20 or so per $10,000 … but between an increasing number of subprime and delinquent borrowers and already-tight family budgets, that still will be felt.
  • Staying in the education realm, another not-so-pretty reality is that children from poor families and special-needs children will be the worst victims of public school budget cuts. Title 1, Head Start and special education will lose $740 million, $406 million and $644 million, respectively. Overall, 7.4 million students will be affected.
  • Plus, that doesn’t even consider the personnel — some 50,000 school employees could see their jobs shaved.
  • The Federal Aviation Association is facing a similar issue, as a planned hiring freeze, contract cuts and furloughs for around 47,000 employees are in the near future.
  • For day-to-day travelers, FAA cuts have two different meanings. One, it could mean delays of up to 90 minutes during peak times. And two, it could increase the risk of accidents, since air traffic controllers for small U.S. airports could soon be closed, as The Huffington Post explains here.
  • As we’ve mentioned before, another impact comes with food safety and supply, as around 2,100 fewer inspections are expected take place and around 6,000 businesses could be stalled.
  • White House tours have already been nixed, and the White House Easter Egg Hunt — a softball in this list, but a real impact nonetheless — could be cancelled. In terms of other federal-funded recreation, national park visiting hours are also going to be shortened.

The bottom line is pretty simple: The sequester is more than a talking point, a budget number or a threat to incumbent congressmen.

It’s a real piece of legislation affecting real people — and that is probably affecting you.

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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