Friday is the latest “D-Day” in Washington as the federal government nears a deadline that would impose $85 billion in automatic spending cuts. Those cuts are known as sequestration and they could mean big changes to programs in your everyday life.
The White House is warning of massive cuts that will affect everyone nationwide and including right here in Pennsylvania. The effects will be felt from school funding to the environment to public safety and health. When the sequestration goes into effect on Friday, arbitrary across the board spending cuts, $85 billion in all, will become reality and that reality may hit home.
The White House laid out the spending cuts and how it will affect Pennsylvania. First, education will take a hit losing over $26 million in funding. That would put about 360 teacher and aide jobs at risk.
Second, an estimated 26,000 civilian Department of Defense employees will face furloughs to save over $150 million. Pennsylvania will also lose about $7 million in funding for its Army bases.
Finally, over $7 million dollars would be slashed from different programs that promote environmental protection. The White House warns that these cuts would put our water and air at risk.
Public health will take a big hit losing almost $5 million in funding that goes towards substance abuse programs and controlling infectious diseases.
Law enforcement is scheduled to lose over a half of a million dollars in grants that help with crime prevention and prosecution of criminals.
Finally, jobs are always an issue. The White House claims cuts to job search programs of $866,000 will hurt some 37,000 people who are looking for work.
However, Republicans in Congress say the President is simply trying to scare the American public.
“I don’t get the sense that it’s going to be that bad and I think that even though there’s a lot of folks that are here that are concerned about it. I think in a lot of ways the federal government, the administration has been crying the sky is falling every single time in an effort to get the congress to raise taxes and people are kind of fed up that,” said Representative Scott Perry, (R) 4th District.
“We have some fundamental issues that people see differently, fundamental questions about the role of government, size of government. I’m not supportive of still more tax increases to pay for more spending, i think we need to reign in spending,” said Senator Pat Toomey, (R) Pennsylvania.
Republicans are refusing to entertain more tax increases. They want cuts to federal spending however most Republicans are trying to fix the sequester process, by trying to gain some control over where the cuts are made.
Right now in Congress, there is a Democratic plan that is being proposed that would avert the sequester. The Republicans are still sitting on their plan to avert the latest cliff. However, most experts think that neither of these plans have a shot of passing the chambers in time to avoid the March 1 deadline.
Many now point to a new date of March 27 as the latest drop dead date. That’s the day the stopgap bill, called the Continuing Resolution, that funds the federal government ends. If no deal is reached by that date, the federal government faces a complete shutdown and the sequester cuts will probably last for the rest of the fiscal year and possibly beyond.