We are 8 months into sequestration, and if you think things are bad now just wait a few more months.
Here is a list and approximate timeline of things to expect in the near future.
End of unemployment extensions
The famous "99 weeks" ended nearly a year ago, but many high unemployment states still have as many as 73 weeks available. Starting January 1, 2014, and ending in March, all federal unemployment extensions are scheduled to end.
The temporary Emergency Unemployment Compensation program began in 2008 during the height of the financial crisis and has been repeatedly extended. Democrats say that if the program is not extended at the end of December, roughly 1.3 million Americans searching for jobs will lose these benefits and another 1.9 million would lose benefits in the first half of 2014 as their benefits expire.All told, 4.8 million people will be negative effected by ending this program. Never before in post-war America have we ended unemployment extensions with unemployment still this high.
negotiators in the House and Senate are discussing a relatively small deal focused on replacing or altering the sequestration cuts, which would probably not include an extension of the jobless program.Around 4 million Americans have been unemployed for longer than 6 months. Already 2.5 million Americans are unemployed and no longer recieving benefits. Ending unemployment extensions will cost about 310,000 jobs and reduce economic growth by 0.4%.
Probably the most needlessly cruel measure was the cut in food stamps. It is the one measure that House Democrats may find some backbone to defend.
The House and Senate are currently negotiating a compromise farm bill that will contain food stamps cuts somewhere between the $4 billion the Senate wants and the $40 billion the House wants. (These cuts will come on top of the $5 billion in funding reductions to food stamps that went into effect at the beginning of the month as extra stimulus money for the program expired.)Just Google "food stamps cuts" and there are countless articles from local newspapers giving personal accounts of what the cuts have meant. It's hard to imagine what harm further cuts will look like.
Food stamps aren't the only way that food aid is being cut. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that services 9 million poor mothers suffered a $500 million cut in September.
Besides the obvious immorality of cutting food aid to the poor, there is an economic cost as well.
Hunger costs the U.S. at least $167.5 billion each year in lost economic productivity and earnings, health-care expenses that could have been avoided by better nutrition and the value of charity to keep families fed, according to a 2011 report from the Center for American Progress.Deeper cuts in Housing Vouchers
“The additional impact on kids starts to show up more clearly down the road,” said Harry Holzer, a public policy professor at Georgetown University in Washington and a former Labor Department chief economist. “You might see high-school dropout rates go higher, a range of behavior problems.”
Cuts in housing vouchers for the poor began months ago, but the cuts are about to get much deeper.
Somewhere between 125,000 and 185,000 people are likely to lose housing assistance by the end of next year if sequestration cuts remain in place, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).Many housing agencies dipped into unspent money from prior years and used accounting gimmicks to soften the impact of the cuts, but those solution are already running out. The additional 6% cut, the biggest on record, will take effect January 1.
The report also estimates that between 40,000 and 65,000 fewer people will be getting assistance by the end of this year compared to last thanks to the cuts. Housing Choice Vouchers give low-income people help in affording rent...
As soon as it went into law, some people who had finally moved off of waiting lists actually had their vouchers rescinded. Since then, the housing authorities have frozen waiting lists, reduced the amount of rent each voucher will cover, and cut maintenance budgets for the public housing they oversee.
Deeper cuts for schools
Poor schools are going to be effected in several ways.
The impacts of austerity cuts hit immediately at military bases and native american reservations.
Of 83 school districts NAFIS consulted, 31 cut staffing levels, 11 cut their student transportation services, seven cut their course offerings, and eight eliminated extra-curricular activities. Two school districts – Window Rock in Arizona and Hays/Lodge Pole in Montana, both on Indian lands – closed schools outright.That was from the first round. The second round of cuts will be much, much worse.
Of the 298 school that chose to respond to the organization’s non-scientific survey, 144 are putting off maintenance or other purchases, 112 are laying off support staff, 96 are laying off teachers, 102 are increasing class sizes, 46 are eliminating extracurricular activities, and eight have outright closed schools.Direct federal funding cuts for public schools in the poorest areas aren't the only way that schools are being impacted. The cuts also impact the children themselves in the form of cuts in Head Start.
This past year 57,000 children were kicked out of Head Start due to austerity cuts.
I should also mention that the austerity cuts will also impact Meal on Wheels, scientific research, and domestic violence shelters.
Take your pick of your favorite safety net program. They will all be impacted harshly.
So how is this even happening? What is giving politicians political cover to make these sorts of cuts when the economy is still bad?
The reason is more simple than you may have guessed: Americans are becoming jerks.
Starting in 2007, the portion of Americans who said the government should guarantee every person enough to eat and a place to sleep started falling, from 69 percent to 59 percent last year. People who said the government should help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt, fell from 54 percent to 43 percent over the same period...If you can judge a country by what a majority of it think, then maybe America simply isn't a special country anymore.
Six years after the 1991 recession ended, public attitudes on the virtues of helping the needy had started to move back up. Today, six years after the onset of the last recession, those numbers are still moving down.