The potential impact of the sequester is dizzying, taken state by state or nationally. From federal workers losing as much as 20 percent of their pay to travelers facing airport delays, the sequester’s effects will be felt far and wide if Republicans keep holding the economy hostage to keep tax loopholes for wealthy people and corporations wide open. But it’ll be especially damaging for people who rely on government programs—people who are poor or vulnerable for other reasons. Here are some of the ways, according to the White House, services for the neediest people will be cut.
Receiving emergency unemployment compensation benefits? You’re in for a nearly 11 percent cut to those benefits, adding up to as much as $450 during the time you’re eligible for benefits.
Are you a student, parent of a student, or teacher? You might care about what’s going to happen in the schools, where nearly 1.2 million disadvantaged students in more than 2,700 schools will be hit with cuts, including to individual instruction and afterschool programs. That could lead to around 10,000 teachers and aides losing their jobs. Special education cuts would also endanger the jobs of 7,200 teachers, aides, and other staff. Then there are the 70,000 or so kids who’d lose Head Start services, leading to up to another 14,000 teachers and other school personnel working not just for state and local governments but for community and faith based organizations. But Head Start wouldn’t be the only early childhood program affected. The sequester could boot 30,000 kids off of child care subsidies, forcing their parents to find other child care or miss work.
Are you a senior relying on Meals on Wheels? That program will be serving 4 million fewer meals to seniors. And if you’re pregnant or a new mother and getting nutrition assistance for Women, Infants, and Children, cuts are coming there, too: around 600,000 women and children could lose assistance.
If government programs help shelter you, the sequester could put you at greater risk of homelessness. More than 100,000 people could lose access to housing and emergency homeless shelter programs, putting them back on the street. At the same time, 125,000 families could lose rental assistance that helps them stay in permanent housing; they too would risk homelessness as a result.
While Medicaid is exempt from sequestration, if you rely on government health services, there still might be bad news for you. Mental health services would be cut for more than 373,000 mentally ill people, and 8,900 mentally ill homeless people would lose outreach and support. AIDS and HIV treatment and testing are on the chopping block, too: Sequestration would mean 424,000 fewer HIV tests, and 7,400 patients without medications.
And the thing is, if Republicans in Congress really get their way, these are exactly the vulnerable groups that will be even harder hit by cuts.
This article was originally posted on the Daily Kos on February 25, 2013. Reprinted with Permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is an editor at the Daily Kos.