Huge Cuts in Federal Budget to Impact Citizens in Ways Large and Small
Many Brooklynites who may not even know that programs they enjoy or rely on are based on federally funds could be in for a rude awakening.
In March 2013, most agencies of the federal government, from the Department of Defense to the US Post Office to the National Institutes of Health, and more, will see their budgets automatically slashed according to an agreement made by Congress in 2012 known as "sequestration." Originally devised as an incentive to force Congressional agreement on tough budget issues, the sequestration appears to be likely to take place, in the absence of bipartisan agreement.
As fiscal policy goes, it's more blunt instrument than surgical incision.
How will the impending "sequestration" impact Brooklyn? With our population of over two and a half million, we rank as one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas. And so we will likely be impacted in numerous ways.
9 Ways The Sequestration Cuts Will Negatively Impact Brooklyn
1. Plan More Time to Get to Your Flights to and from JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Airports: You don't want to miss your flight, either leaving NY or coming home.TSA and air traffic controllers will have some budget cuts. Likely results? Expect longer wait times at the airport check in counters, longer lines at TSA security, and possibly a change (for the worse) in the scheduling of flights. Contact your carrier for more information if you are planning a trip during or after March.
2. Be Prepared for Brooklyn's 80 Head Start Programs to Experience Cuts: According to the Obama Administration fact sheet on the impact of the cuts, nationwide, "70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start, 10,000 teacher jobs would be put at risk, and funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides, and staff could be cut." About 80 such programs in Brooklyn neighborhoods serve hundreds of Brooklyn kids from age three to five years old, according to NYC.gov.
3. Pray We Don't Have Another Hurricane Sandy: FEMA's budget will be cut, too, so there will be less funding for state and local emergency management.
4. If You're Waiting for Hurricane Sandy Relief Funding, It Might Come Later, Slowly or Never: Funds currently available for Sandy relief will be reduced. It remains to see whether Brooklyn areas such as Coney Island, Red Hook and Sheepshead Bay will be affected, and if so how.
5. If You're Getting Unemployment Benefits, You Might Get Less Money: Payment of unemployment will be affected. According to the NY Times, "a laid-off person living on $300 a week in unemployment benefits" will receive $33 less in April 2013, because of the federal cuts.
Kings County has over 100,000 unemployed individuals, with about nine percent unemployment, according to 2012 statistics from the NY State Department of Labor. While not all of these people receive unemployment benefits, the loss of income over a sizable population will add up to less business for Brooklyn's local stores, and more hardship for the unemployed.
6. Watch What You Eat, Food Safety: The FDA would be able to conduct fewer inspections at food manufacturing facilities, and, according to a White House memo detailing the draconian cuts likely to occur in a sequestration scenario, "USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) may have to furlough all employees for approximately two weeks." If there's an unfortunate outbreak of, say, salmonella in Brooklyn, that's not great news.
7. Have Questions for the IRS? Ask them now, because even the IRS will see a cut in their budget for operating expenses. April 15th, the tax deadline, is around the corner. If there are temporary layoffs at the IRS, "millions of taxpayers" won't get prompt replies to from IRS call centers and taxpayer assistance centers (such as the IRS office in Brooklyn) according to a White House press release.
8. Don't Assume Meals on Wheels will Help Your Grandma: Meals on Wheels and similar federal programs will serve 4 million fewer meals to seniors — some of which are likely to be served (or not) in Brooklyn.
9. Special Ed & Disadvantaged Kids Programs Might Be Reduced: Nationally, about half the budget for Special Ed students will be slashed over 7 months from March to December 2013. That's a shame, given that Brooklyn's Special Ed kids have already suffered the inconveniences of a month long yellow school bus strike.In addition, budgets for special programs for literacy education for disadvantaged students will be cut.
Also: About half of the cuts are designated to occur in the federal military budget, so Brooklyn-based suppliers and contractors, including possibly some working at Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge, could take a hit.
3 Programs You Can Still Count On, Per Usual
Here are three areas that will not be affected. Each of these three popular programs have mandatory exemptions from the 2013 federal budget cuts under sequestration. You can count on:10. NO CHANGES to Medicare in Brooklyn or elsewhere.
11. NO CHANGES to Social Security payments to Brooklyn residents.
12. NO CHANGES to the Food Stamp program on which many food-insecure Brooklyn residents rely.
Nobody knows for sure what the impact will be on individual citizens— exactly what will be cut in each federal agency remains to be seen— but experts in the media and government are predicting a wide range of repercussions which will likely grow over time. Lets hope they get this fixed.
More about Sequestration and the 2013 Mandatory Budget CutsIf you aren't sure what this is about, "sequestration" is the name for $85 billion in across-the-board cuts in federal programs due to start on March 1 and increase over the 7 month period during which the cuts will be instated, Congress and the President can't agree on a new budget deal.
For more details, see the Bipartisan Policy Blog.