The impact of sequester budget cuts on families

The sequester cuts set to go into effect March 1 could have a detrimental impact on families and children. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, DC, February 20, 2013 -It seems like it was only yesterday that the government was tittering on the verge of falling off another looming fiscal cliff. Ultimately, the government reached a temporary resolution to the deficit crisis. Congress decided to kick the can down the road once more and put off massive cuts, called a sequester, until March 1.

Well brothers and sisters,  that date is around the corner and millions of families with children stand to be harmed if the Republicans and Democrats in Congress cannot come up with a plan for responding to the $1.2 trillion dollars in spending cuts scheduled to take effect through the next 10 years

During the budget crisis in 2011 when Congress couldn’t agree on a deficit reduction program, the Obama administration presented an alternative that included putting together a bipartisan supercommitee to come up with a reasonable plan. To force them to come together, the plan included sequestration, a process of automatic across-the-board cuts under which budgetary resources are permanently canceled to enforce budget policy goals if the two sides were unable to reach agreement.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio arrives for a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


That committee failed to come to a resolution on how to avoid draconian cuts. Of course it did. Washington is dysfunctional and broken. So here we are, facing yet another fiscal crisis and families are on the chopping block. Below is a listing of programs impacting children and families that stand to get the ax:

  • Approximately 10,000 teacher jobs, 70,000 children in Head Start and 7,200 special education teachers, aides and staff are on the chopping block
  • Up to 2,100 food inspector jobs risk being cut, which would put families at risk in lost food production given that outbreaks from foodborne illnesses put families and the public health at risk;
  • Some 12,000 scientist and students who conduct research for critical diseases would see their jobs come to an end;
  • Cuts to mental health could impact 373, 000 mentally ill adults and emotionally disturbed children who need treatment;
  • Funds to Title I schools could impact 2,700 schools and close to 1.2 million underprivileged students
  • About 600,000 women an dchildren may be dropped from WIC from March until September
  • Close to 125, 000 families that receive rental assistance would see that come to an end

Notwithstanding, the most popular and well known low income programs are exempt from cuts under sequestration including: Child Nutrition Programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Fund , the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Family Support Programs, Federal Pell Grants, Grants to States for Medicaid, Payments for Foster Care and Permanency , Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Supplemental Security Income Program , Temporary Assistance for Needy Families , Social security beneficiaries, Military personnel salaries at the president’s discretion upon notification to Congress, the Veterans Administration, the Unemployment Trust Fund, Compensation of the President, Payment to Military Retirement Fund and Payments to Social Security Trust Fund, among several other programs.

American families also work for the federal government and could also see furloughs, lay offs and other impacts from the sequester.

Managers and department heads are readying their staffs. Airport travelers, visitors to National Parks and in various capacities, families will see the effect of the sequester when reduced staff impact their quality of lives.

Things have gotten quite serious, yet again. 


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Jeneba Ghatt
Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt is a former journalist turned lawyer turned citizen journalist. Currently, she manages her boutique communications law firm, where she has represented small businesses and nationally-recognized civil and consumer rights organizations before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts and the FCC. She also covers the White House and US Congress for the online news site while authoring her own influential blog which is frequently accessed by top policy makers and think tanks, and the investment community. focuses on the intersection of politics and technology and reports on policies and rules in the communications and tech sector.
Before opening her law firm, The Ghatt Law Group, which was the first communications firm owned by women and minorities, Jeneba regulated Comcast and Starpower as the Assistant General Counsel for the District of Columbia's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, and at one point was the only communications regulatory attorney in the entire city. She is founding member and policy chair for a new trade association, the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs and provides advice and counsel to new businesses in the tech industry, particularly small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, but raised in the United States by her Catholic mom and Muslim dad, she started her college career creating web content for one of the earliest websites in history while working part time for the University of Maryland's Office of Technology. Following her graduation from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, she founded and co-wrote one of the earliest blogs and since then has gone on to found and author six different widely read and influential blogs. She was one of only 22 writers and bloggers to attend the first White House summit for African American media.
She holds a Certificate in Communications Law Studies from Catholic; a Juris Doctor from there as well, and a Master of Law in advocacy degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she first taught and lectured as a Staff Attorney and Graduate fellow at that law school's Institute for Public Representation. She later went on to teach Media Law at the University of Maryland at College Park and guest lecture at Yale Law School and Penn State University, College of Telecommunications. She is well skilled and versed with social media and manages several Twitter, Facebook, Linked In accounts and groups.
She sits on the board of several non profits and trade associations.

Contact Jeneba Ghatt


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