The Sequester: Still a Thing
The deadline to avoid the sequester passed a few weeks ago, and the world kept turning, and the economy kept basically growing, and thus a whole lot of people started thinking and talking about something else. But here’s the thing: the sequester was an intentionally terrible policy, and in no way does a purposefully terrible policy get less godawful through implementation. No surprise, then, to find Think Progress’s report on the sequester’s effects to be rather dire:
Fully canceling sequestration at the beginning of August would likely add 900,000 jobs to the economy but could add up to as many as 1.6 million, according to a new analysis from the Congressional Budget Office. It would also likely increase GDP growth by 0.7 percent but could boost that rate by as much as 1.2 percent…
Sequestration has already come at a high human cost. Children have been kicked out of Head Start programs. Schools on military bases and Native American reservations are facing impossible choices. The elderly are receiving fewer visits from Meals on Wheels programs. Domestic violence victims are getting less help from shelters and programs across the country. Low-income workers have had their Section 8 housing vouchers rescinded. The homeless have fewer places to turn as they try to get back on their feet.
But it has also come with an economic cost. It already had sliced percentage points off of GDP earlier this year. The International Monetary Fund has lowered its estimate of U.S. growth by 0.2 percentage points thanks to sequestration. Analysts had already predicted the loss of 700,000 jobs this year and a GDP reduction of 0.6 percent.And ThinkProgress doesn’t even mention a recent HuffPo piece on how the sequester is just eviscerating the nation’s public defense systems, which is sort of a problem if you’re into the whole fair and adversarial justice system thing:
The public defender system hasn’t just been stripped bare by sequestration, its bones have been chiseled away as well. There has been a 9 percent reduction in the roughly $1 billion budget for federal public defender’s offices, while federal defenders in more than 20 states are planning to close offices.
There’s a disturbing irony to the sequester, or perhaps it’s best to describe it as a default in its design. For all the talk about how the cuts would be so unmanageable that the outcry — public, bureaucratic or both — would compel action, the areas that seem to be getting hit the hardest are those that go neglected almost as a rule.
I suppose the defense contractor cuts were supposed to provide the political oomph needed, but while the defense industry is still lobbying to have their cuts rescinded (most obviously through the currently bipartisan-curious Senator John McCain) they don’t seem to have caused enough of a stir to compel wider action. There’s just too many Tea Party Republicans who mean what they say when it comes to cutting spending — and while they’d prefer it came out of food stamps and other programs for the poor, they’ll take it where they can get it, Pentagon included.
But even if the hits on the national security state are real, the most obvious and I’d hazard to say lasting results are being felt by those who need the government most, and influence it the least.