Wash. Post Dismisses The Harmful Impact Of Sequestration Cuts To Programs For The Disadvantaged

The Washington Post dismissed the severity of the across-the-board automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, failing to note that these cuts hit programs designed to help disadvantaged Americans and that the impact of sequestration will be long lasting.

On June 30, a Washington Post article headlined, “They said the sequester would be scary. Mostly, they were wrong,” reported that early projections of the impacts of sequestration have proven largely incorrect because they “didn't cause much real-world pain.”

Though the Post noted that “the $85 billion budget cut has caused real reductions in many federal programs that people depend on,” it neglected to elaborate on these “real reductions,” focusing instead on cuts like furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration, which congressional leaders chose to replace by reallocating money intended for other projects in the face of public pressure. The Post summarized:

In other cases, however, budget maneuvers made sequestration even less painful. It wasn't a cleaver. It wasn't a scalpel. It was more like liposuction -- carefully removing the things that would be missed the least.

In fact, sequestration cuts have caused real-world pain for thousands of struggling Americans. As the Center for American Progress reported, Congress has made an effort to fix some high-profile effects of sequestration while ignoring its effect on low-income Americans, including:

140,000 low-income Americans who stand to lose their housing vouchers, the 70,000 children who stand to be kicked out of Head Start, and the many seniors who will have to adjust to 4 million fewer meals delivered by Meals on Wheels.

Additionally, some low-income Medicare patients have been denied care as the two percent cut to Medicare payments for doctors has forced local cancer clinics with narrow profit margins to turn them away. In the next year, California's Napa and Solano Counties will lose $500,000 in Head Start funding, 63,872 hours of educational and family development service, and funding for 45,952 meals for needy families. In New York, Head Start classes for low-income children are beginning to close and will remain closed next fall due to sequestration cuts. As one Head Start administrator pointed out, “When you have to manage a $800,000 cut for a program, you can't just nibble around the edges. You have to go in and it takes a real human toll, a real social toll, and a real economic toll.”

The Post also downplayed automatic cuts to occur in October and the long-term impact of sequestration cuts, suggesting that “the Obama administration will seek to make the threat reappear,” but "[t]he problem is, officials said all that before," failing to mention that sequestration's effects will be felt well past October 2013.

But the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) predicted that the effects of sequestration would resemble a “slow motion train wreck,” and that “ramifications will steadily worsen as time passes.” The BPC also estimated that sequestration would cost the economy approximately one million jobs in 2013 and 2014. And Wall Street economists have predicted that sequestration cuts would reduce GDP growth by as much as one percentage point during its first fiscal year.

In a June 17 article, The National Journal noted that most of the economic backlash from sequestration furloughs are likely still to come since the majority of federal furloughs won't begin until July. On July 8, for example, 680,000 Pentagon workers will begin to be furloughed, and “the real income shock will not show up until the July personal income and outlay report on Aug. 30.”