Friday, August 3, 2012

The Human Cost of Sequestration

The Sequester will enact $1.2 trillion in across the board spending cuts - half of which will come from defense spending and half from non-defense - and is set to go into effect this January, 2013. If the Sequester goes ahead unchecked, the massive spending cuts will seriously compromise programs that serve those who most need the services of our nation's safety net.

While the exact consequences of sequestration for safety net programs is not yet known, it is clear that they will be severe for those who need those programs the most. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that sequestration will result in 100,000 fewer children receiving Head Start and Early Head Start services and 80,000 fewer children receiving child care assistance. An estimated 12,000 fewer veterans will be served through the Jobs for Veterans program. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose nutritional benefits through the WIC program. The HHS Health Care for the Homeless program will be able to serve nearly 12,000 fewer people and nearly 187,000 people will lose Section 8 tenant-based rental assistance.

Our approach to upcoming sequestration needs to be rooted in our values – a balanced approach that addresses the deficit crisis with justice and compassion. On the one hand, we need to be good stewards of the resources we already have, making judicious cuts to defense, earmarks, and other wasteful spending, while preserving that which is most important for the good of all. On the other hand, we must increase revenue, in order to ensure that this nation can meet our need to operate a fair and just economy, which serves all of our human community. The nation’s deficit crisis cannot be solved through spending cuts alone – new revenues must be part of the solution. The need is great and the resources are abundant. The budget choices we make must reflect this reality.

As churches across the country observe Homelessness and Affordable Housing Sunday on August 5, the Office of Public Witness invites you tell you Member of Congress that we need faithful alternatives to the Sequester.  Members of Congress head home for August recess this weekend, so check your members’ websites to find out where they will have town halls and campaign events.  Tell them: if the Sequester goes into effect, hundreds of thousands of our sisters and brothers will lose the services our nation's safety net provides.

The Presbyterian Network to End Homelessness has released a new resource for Homelessness and Affordable Housing Sunday.  Visit for the PNTEH packet and many other helpful resources.