NAACP Calls on Congress to Halt Crippling Budget Cuts Under “Sequestration”

URGES DEVELOPMENT OF A FAIR AND BALANCED FEDERAL BUDGET

The “Budget Control Act of 2011,” which was enacted in August, 2011, increased our Nation’s borrowing ceiling (also known as the “debt limit”); set caps on “discretionary spending” (funding for programs which is limited by the amount of money made available, rather than by demand; “non-discretionary” federal programs include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits ) for 2011 and 2012; and established a budget super-committee, which was charged with developing a plan to reduce our national deficit over the next ten years.  Under the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011, if the budget super-committee did not come up with a plan to balance the budget automatic, across-the-board spending cuts would take place on January 2, 2013.  These cuts are known as “sequestration” and they would result in federal spending being cut by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

Because the budget super-committee officially dissolved in November, 2011 without a plan, the federal government is currently facing automatic, across-the-board cuts of about $109 billion per year as of January 2, 2013.  This means that almost every federal discretionary program will be facing a reduction in its budget of approximately 8.6%.  Currently, this funding cut will affect both defense and non-defense programs; it is estimated that as many as 2 million Americans, including police officers, teachers, air traffic controllers, and civilian defense workers may lose their jobs as a result.  Essential services would also be drastically cut, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable among us, including childhood vaccinations (it is estimated that almost 212,000 children will not be vaccinated if sequestration takes effect) and Head Start (almost 100,000 fewer low-income children would be served) to screenings for breast and cervical cancer (as many as 34,000 fewer women would be screened) and Meals-On-Wheels for seniors who are not able to get out (17 million fewer meals would be served).  Furthermore, with the national unemployment rate still hovering above 8% (and the rate among African Americans nationally at 14.4%), sequestration would result in 1.6 million fewer adults, dislocated workers and at-risk youth receiving job training, education or employment services.  More specific information about the potential impact of these cuts is expected in early September, when the Administration is expected to release a report detailing how federal agencies would implement the sequestration cuts at the program, project and activity level.

Due to the potential devastation of sequestration on almost every American, and the disproportionate impact it would have on the most vulnerable among us, the NAACP has consistently called on Congress and the Administration to put aside their partisan bickering and develop a balanced budget which makes the tax code more fair and does not do additional harm to the programs which serve us all, especially the most vulnerable among us.  Furthermore, the NAACP is fundamentally opposed to changing the rules so that sequestration only affects non-defense spending (as some in Congress have suggested).  Non-defense discretionary spending has already absorbed significant reductions in spending despite the fact that these programs support and sustain the growth of our nation in areas including scientific and technological innovations, housing, civil rights enforcement, education, health care, small business development, public safety and infrastructure development and maintenance.

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