Sequestration

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The one very minor positive for me in the current economic cliffhanger is that my vocabulary has expanded to include sequestration and I even find myself unfortunately using this word on a regular basis. In the next few weeks, I may even get to the point of asking friends and acquaintances how they are and how they will be after sequestration. The reality is I would be happier if I never needed to use this word again. More importantly, as I have indicated in previous blogs, failure of the democrats and republicans to agree on budget cuts would be extremely harmful for the economy. And especially since the signs of recovery are stronger, the downside of aborting that recovery and having a mandated sequestration becomes more devastating. Just so we are all on the same page, by sequestration I am referring to mandated, virtually across the board, reductions in most federal expenditures. Rather than making the decision in terms of priorities, these are autopilot decisions.

The mandated cuts in education, where we know upfront that education is an investment in our future, are particularly harmful. Between cuts in the work study program and cuts in the supplemental opportunity grants program, approximately 100,000 students will be adversely impacted by sequestration. Support for special needs students and students with disabilities would also be significantly reduced. No one can argue that the need for these programs will disappear or argue that there will not be significant consequences; what we will be left with are consequences, many of which will have their greatest impact on those who are economically disadvantaged.

We have no choice at this point in time other than cutting spending and limiting the increase in future spending. And since taxes were dealt with already, short term this is not an area that we can turn to help resolve the current situation. Even more importantly, I am not at all supportive of increasing the burden on taxpayers while not realistically confronting the expenditure part of the financial equation.

We know there need to be cuts in spending. For me, reducing spending in education should not be a significant source of savings. These would be short term savings with long term negative and counterproductive consequences. Passions are high on all sides of the spending/sequestration issue; many of us have specific priorities in one or more areas where we feel that spending cuts should be a last resort and perhaps a never resort. Those of us in education should do all that we can to passionately make the case for education. We can be sure that each area has it advocates. The case for education is very strong; our advocacy should be at least as strong.

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