You've heard that sequestration could lead to major pay cuts and more furloughs for federal employees, but what is sequestration, exactly?
Sequestration is the federal budgeting equivalent of Robin Hood in reverse. Instead funding education, infrastructure, public health and safety and other programs that every American relies on, elected officials developed a law to automatically cut them and use that money to fund tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations.
If allowed to continue, these across-the-board budget cuts – more than a trillion dollars over the next decade – will be catastrophic, not just to your family and community, but to the whole country.
Congress has a lot to do to avoid a financial calamity. Even if the government stays open after December 11, life for many Americans will get even worse if sequestration isn't repealed. There's a lot at stake, and no one can afford to sit on the sidelines.
Here's everything you need to know about sequestration and how it's going to affect your livlihood:
Sequestration is a tool to implement strict spending cuts agreed to under the 2011 Budget Control Act, which required $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts split evenly between Defense and non-Defense agencies.
The first year of sequestration?forced agencies to cut $85 billion from their budgets.
Half of the cuts under sequestration are aimed at the Department of Defense. DoD already is taking drastic measures to cut spending – unfortunately on the backs of our hardworking civilian employees – and additional cuts will cripple our nation’s defense capabilities.
The other half of the cuts would hit our domestic agencies – like the Social Security Administration, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency – which are already operating with bare-bones budgets.
In 2013, Congress struck a deal delaying sequestration for two years, but said that federal employees hired since the beginning of 2014 now must pay 4.4% of their salaries toward their defined benefit pension, compared to 0.8% for most other employees. This was a serious cuts in take-home pay. Now that those two years are over, Congress is expected to come after your take-home pay again.
During the first year of sequestration, 750,000 federal employees were furloughed from their jobs for up to a week – resulting in $1 billion in lost income. If sequestration is allowed to resume in December, agencies again will be forced to furlough employees, leave vacancies unfilled, and lay off workers.
Federal employees already have sacrificed $159 billion during the past five years as a result of frozen or insufficient pay raises, lost income from being furloughed due to sequestration, and increases in retirement contributions for new employees.
People will lose their jobs. Agencies will adjust to the budget cuts by cutting jobs, potentially leaving millions out of work.
Programs that empower citizens and businesses will be in jeopardy: Things like applying for Social Security benefits, getting loans for new houses or small businesses, and ensuring our food and water supply is safe – basic programs and services that Americans count on – will be at risk due to cuts in funding.
Military readiness will suffer. Sequestration will leave the military less prepared to perform its mission – which will end up costing taxpayers more in the long run.
We will be less safe. There will be less funding for everything from law enforcement to food inspections and park maintenance, forcing agencies to cut back on areas?that they shouldn’t have to. Also hit: Scientific research for curing deadly diseases.
Local economies suffer. As federal funds dry up, there is less money going to states, local governments and non-profit organizations for grants and loans.
Seniors are left to fend for themselves. Meals on Wheels grant funding was cut by 5%, which forced the agency to deny meals to thousands of low-income and elderly people.
AFGE will reject any proposal that offsets the cost of sequestration by imposing an additional financial burden on federal employees, who have already sacrificed $159 billion toward deficit reduction.
All of the cuts required under sequestration must be repealed – both to Defense programs and to non-Defense agencies. Repealing one without the other is not an option.
Congress must repeal sequestration and provide federal agencies with enough resources to continue to deliver the programs and services that Americans rely on.?