07.16.2013 Policy Points

The Sequester And America’s Poor

In a blog post at The Atlantic, Nancy Cook describes “the sequester’s devastating impact on America’s poor.”

This was not the way sequestration was meant to go. The reductions were designed to be so painful — to both defense and nondefense discretionary programs — that Republicans and Democrats would flock to the negotiating table to find a compromise. Instead, the effects of sequestration have been uneven, with small pockets of intense upheaval rather than widespread but mild disruptions. Now, many Republicans openly profess their love of the cuts, especially since the fiscal-cliff deal did not seriously slash government spending or tweak entitlement programs, as the GOP had hoped it would. In their view, sequestration turned into the next best option for shrinking the federal government.

Democrats did manage to safeguard programs for the absolute neediest Americans. The sequester exempts a long list of safety-net programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, and Social Security. But Democrats have not been able to protect cornerstone social programs such as Meals on Wheels or Head Start, nor have they been able to prod Republicans to undo the cuts — especially now that the White House’s many dire projections have yet to come true. Border Patrol agents did not get furloughed, airplanes were not grounded, and the mass layoff of teachers did not occur.

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