Cuts Across America

Every Number Has a Face: What Friday’s Sequester Really Means

On Purim we read about Esther
And how Haman’s plot didn’t best her
But this year there’s more
Evil plotting in store
As we worry about the sequester.

–Rabbi Joe Black

3 days until sequestration. “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.” I hear you. We’ve had the countdown before, and we’ve spoken out. The good news is that Congress has heard us.

In January’s deal that averted the fiscal cliff (the first time), Congress chose to protect the unemployed and those receiving SNAP benefits (just like we urged them to do!). This deal, however, was only a two-month stopgap.

What exactly do “automatic, across-the-board spending cuts” mean, anyway? Here’s just a taste of what Friday could be the beginning of if Congress doesn’t act soon:

  • 600,000 children and mothers kicked off of nutritional aid programs like WIC, most likely starting with 4- and 5-year olds
  • 4,000,000 fewer meals to seniors from meals on wheels programs
  • 800,000 civilian Department of Defense employees furloughed one day a week without pay
  • 35, 927 victims of domestic violence prevented from receiving assistance
  • 1,455 women in California alone losing access to mammograms, breast exams, and pap smears
  • 373,000 people with mental illness losing treatment
  • 70,000 cut from Head Start
  • 30,000 children denied affordable child care
  • 125,000 low-income families losing rental housing vouchers
  • 33,000 students denied work-study aid

When we talk on the scale of trillions of dollars, it’s sometimes easy to lose track of the real-life effects of these decisions. But Congress must be reminded of the human faces symbolized by these numbers.

So share your story. Tell Congress why these programs matter to you—whether you’ve delivered a meal to an isolated senior, benefited from a Pell grant, or however our social safety net has impacted your life—make your voice heard now! Urge Congress to use a balanced approach to deficit reduction that will not destroy the safety net of programs serving the low-income families.


Images and charts from Center for American Progress

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Raechel Banks

About Raechel Banks

Raechel Banks is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. She grew up in Dallas, TX, as a member of Temple Emanu-El. She recently graduated from Brandeis University.

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