October 11, 2012

Sequestration’s Other Victims

By Jessica Chau

We’ve heard a lot about how sequestration would affect defense sector jobs.  Here’s a great piece on its affect on  education funding.  Also, Ezra Klein discusses the Economic Policy Institute’s “fiscal obstacle course.”

Sequestration’s other victims 

Colorado Springs Independent, Megan Sheppard, 10/10/2012

Local media outlets have drawn attention to these federal cuts in the military and aerospace sectors. But as a teacher, I urge you to consider how this will impact our public education schools and students. Specifically, which students in our community will be left behind if such cuts do occur?

Public schools are already struggling to meet the demands of 21st-century learning, with class sizes expanding, resources shrinking and teachers feeling more burdened by such limitations. And now they will be in the unenviable position of once again being tasked with doing more with less.

Our local school districts will lose up to $6.3 million in Head Start funding, which prepares our at-risk children for kindergarten, if sequestration cuts occur. According to recent rigorous, peer-reviewed studies, children who attend Head Start have significant gains throughout their lives when compared to at-risk children who do not attend early education programs. Specifically, these children are less likely to repeat grades and are more likely to graduate from high school. It is an education program well worth protecting.

In Colorado, $11.6 million would be slashed from Title I, the program serving our most economically disadvantaged students who struggle academically without adequate resources. Intervention teachers, curriculum toolkits and additional computers — these are the tools we know fuel opportunities for raising academic achievement in Title I schools. If Congress fails to act, we will witness these resources and teachers disappear from schools that need them most.

Children with special needs will also suffer if $12 million disappears from Colorado’s IDEA funding. Students with learning disabilities thrive in school when they receive targeted, individualized intervention, coaching and other support following regular classroom instruction. Without the specialized supports funded by IDEA, many students will continue to fall behind and ultimately fail.


The fiscal…something

Washington Post, Ezra Klein, 10/10/2012

Originally, Hill staffers called it “taxmageddon.” Then Ben Bernanke called it “the fiscal cliff,” and it stuck. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that’s the wrong metaphor: The damage doesn’t happen all at once, so it’s more of a “fiscal slope.” The Economic Policy Institute decided this still made the situation sound too cliff-y and began calling it “the fiscal obstacle course.”

EPI’s imagery is a little strained — Does the fiscal obstacle course include a fiscal climbing wall? A tax-cut rope swing? — but its explanation of the fiscal whatever-you-want-to-call-it is the most useful.

The “fiscal cliff” is, at its heart, a collision between these two priorities. We can let the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cut expire, and we can let the automatic spending cuts hit, and the deficit problem is pretty much solved. Unfortunately, we will likely have thrown the economy back into recession.

Conversely, if we just kick everything down the road, that’s better for the recovery, but it means we’ve made no progress on the debt, and if you believe in the confidence fairy, she’s not coming because we haven’t given anyone any reason to be confident in our political system or the future shape of their tax burden.

You can see EPI’s menu, so to speak, in this table (click on the image for a larger and more readable version). The most stimulative policies are, predictably enough, the policies that were intended to be stimulus. Among the least stimulative policies are the Bush tax cuts. Somewhat to my surprise, the spending sequester is a really nasty hit to the economy.


Follow Americans for Tax Fairness on Twitter and Facebook.  Right now is the best time to spread far and wide that we just can’t afford to continue the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent.