"Across the nation, Head Start programs have ended their school years early, canceled summer programs, cut staff pay and benefits, and have begun to announce reductions in the number of children who will be served in the fall."
Thus begins a letter sent to Congress this week by 146 national social, faith and labor groups, including the Coalition on Human Needs and USAction.org. Five West Virginia groups, in addition to WV Citizen Action have also signed on.
"Programs serving meals to seniors have started to reduce days of home delivery and have closed or reduced hours for dining rooms. The long-term unemployed have lost federal jobless benefits, while job training programs that might have helped them are cut back," the letter goes on. "Federal funds for education have been cut, with particularly harsh results for schools most reliant on these resources: those on Indian reservations or near military bases. Students counting on college work-study jobs are learning they will not get them. Poor families or people with disabilities perilously close to homelessness after waiting years for a rental voucher have been told they will have to wait longer."
This letter highlights the negative social impacts of Sequestration that will be made even worse if the recent House appropriations plan goes into effect.
The House of Representatives recently voted to continue the mindless Sequestration cuts on social programs while making even deeper cuts to them. However, they ignored the requirement that half of Sequestration's $110 billion be taken from the bloated Pentagon budget. Instead, the House piled on an additional 5.4 percent to fatten the Pentagon's spending.
We're out of Iraq and leaving Afghanistan and should now begin to lower Pentagon spending to pre-war levels, not throw more money on the bonfire.
In contrast, the House proposal pulls 18.6 percent out of funding for Labor, Health and Human Services and Education. Also, Energy, Environment, and Conservation programs get whacked by 11 to 22 percent. What kind of backwards priorities are these?
Such austerity measures failed in Europe -- worsening their employment crisis and fomenting social unrest.
What's needed instead is a prosperity agenda -- one that will put this nation back to work.
Instead of even deeper cuts to vital programs to pay for more pork for Pentagon contractors, it is time to end unfair tax breaks for millionaires and multinational companies. We must stop their tax-dodging practice of off-shoring corporate profits that robs the federal treasury of needed additional revenue to rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges and put Americans back to work. This is the way forward, not more job-killing cuts.
We can't "cut" our way out of this jobless economic recovery, we must work our way out.
The letter urges members of Congress "... to oppose appropriations based on House-passed levels. Congress should enact a budget based on the values of opportunity and security, to build an America that works for all of us."
The full letter and all 146 national signers can be read at usaction.org.
Zuckett is the executive director of WV Citizen Action, a member group of Americans for Tax Fairness.