Across-the-board budget cuts—called sequestration—went into effect March 1st when Congress failed to pass a budget. Called a “Poison Pill” at the time the Sequester Bill was passed last summer, it was designed by Congress to be so devastating, it would force Congress to negotiate a responsible budget.
However, that didn’t happen, and now we are starting the see the effects of sequestration cuts on our friends and neighbors. With a few exceptions for defense, food stamps and transportation, every federal agency will be forced to make severe cuts. Politico describes them this way,
“There would be a 9.4 percent cut to most defense programs — except those exempted in the sequestration law — and a 10 percent cut to a handful of other Pentagon accounts that are not subject to annual congressional appropriations. Medicare would get hit with a 2 percent cut, while domestic discretionary programs — such as scientific grants and Education Department programs — would be subject to 8.2 percent cuts. Most mandatory domestic programs — those that are funded based on eligibility — would be slashed by 7.6 percent.”
Despite voter opposition, congressional Republicans demand cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid benefits and tax breaks for Wall Street and the wealthiest 2%—and they keep manufacturing fiscal crises to gain “leverage” and get their way. Now they’re also threatening to shut down the government on March 27 and cause a government default after May 19.
Nationally, sequestration will cost more than 1 million jobs this year and many more jobs over the next decade. Totaling $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years will harm our battered economy even more.
The solution is to repeal sequestration—not replace it—so we can put these manufactured crises behind us and focus on the urgent problems of putting America back to work, raising wages and reducing economic inequality.
Congress created it and Congress can make it go away. The only way to put an end to these endless manufactured fiscal crises is to disarm the hostage takers, not give in to their ransom demands.
Call your members of Congress now at 888-659-9401!
Also ask your Congressperson to Protect Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare from Benefit Cuts. Republican leaders are using their “leverage” to demand benefit cuts, including Social Security COLA cuts; an increase in the Medicare eligibility age; higher Medicare premiums for beneficiaries with incomes as low as $47,000; higher out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare beneficiaries; and deep cuts to Medicaid that would shift costs to individuals and reduce access to care. They would rather cut these benefits than close the loophole that prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies ($230 billion over 10 years), or close tax loopholes for Wall Street and the richest 2% of Americans.
Finally Congress needs to Close Loopholes for Wall Street and the Richest 2% of Americans. Republicans in Congress want to give more tax breaks to Wall Street and the richest 2% of Americans, but instead we should close the lavish tax loopholes they already have. Start by closing the tax break for sending jobs overseas ($583 billion over 10 years); collecting a millionaire’s surtax ($453 billion); collecting a tiny tax on Wall Street speculation ($350 billion); closing the tax loophole for Wall Street hedge fund managers ($21 billion); and closing the tax loophole for Wall Street derivatives traders ($3 billion). Jobs Not Cuts. The most important economic challenge facing America is the jobs crisis, and the best way to stabilize the debt over the long term is to fix the economy first. Our top priorities must be creating jobs by investing in infrastructure and education, raising wages, reducing inequality and increasing economic security for working people.
AFL-CIO March 20th Events:
Quad City Federation of Labor
Forum on Cuts
Community Health Care, Rock Island, IL 2750 11th Street
Speakers include representatives from Alliance for Retired Americans, Humility of Mary Housing, and Arsenal Workers
South Central Iowa Federation of Labor
State Capitol Building
Hawkeye Labor Council
US District Court, 111 78th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, IA
Clinton Labor Congress
Clinton Schools Administration Building, 1401 12th Avenue North, Clinton, IA
Speakers include representatives from Iowa Workforce Development Board, Clinton School District, Clinton Housing Authority