Budget Cuts Will Have Devastating Effect on Families

Due to the failure of policymakers to reach an agreement on how to avoid the sequester, automatic budget cuts will start today, gutting critical programs for Latinos in areas such as education, housing, health care and job training.  NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is outraged that these arbitrary and harmful cuts will be allowed to go into effect, at the risk of the nation’s economic security as well as the health and safety of children and vulnerable communities.

“Hardworking families have already paid their fair share of deficit reduction.  It is unconscionable to once again ask them to disproportionately shoulder the weight of more spending cuts by defunding vital programs such as foreclosure prevention and mental health assistance, which they need to get by,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR.  “There is no reason that 70,000 kids should get kicked out of Head Start preschools or 600,000 poor pregnant women and their babies should have to go without nutrition assistance.  We are shooting ourselves in the foot every day that we allow these cuts to continue.”

In addition to Head Start and nutrition assistance, some of the other critical programs scheduled to be cut by 5.1% include job training, rental assistance, child care and education support for low-income public school children.

“Massive spending cuts will do nothing but slow down our still-too-fragile economy and bring job creation to a screeching halt,” said Murguía.  “The Congressional Budget Office has already put out estimates that these cuts are going to cost us 750,000 jobs this year.  If policymakers are concerned about our economy and future prosperity, they should be investing in quality education, health care and job training, not cutting off access to these programs.”

More reactions:

Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chairman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15):

“Arbitrary cuts in sequestration threaten thousands of jobs and the economic security of the middle class and the Hispanic community.

“If these cuts go through, our ability to teach children the skills they’ll need for the future will be at risk. 70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start, including 25,000 young Latino children. With 37% of Hispanic students attending a high-poverty public school, these arbitrary cuts would eliminate extra help in reading and math for 1.2 million children.

“There is no question that we need to cut the deficit. But we cannot simply cut our way to prosperity. Today, Latinos face a 10% unemployment rate. For the sake of our recovering economy, deficit reduction should occur when unemployment is low. Any further deficit reduction should come from closing tax loopholes that benefit the top 2% and wealthy corporations and not by cutting federal programs that invest in Latino children and working families.”

First Vice Chair Ben Ray Luján (NM-03): “It’s time to put partisan politics and ideology aside and work together toward a balanced approach that prevents thesequester’s arbitrary cuts.  The full impact of these across-the-board cuts will weaken our economy and lead to job losses.  Across the country, working families, including many of those in Hispanic communities, will feel the impact of deep cuts to education, public safety, health care, and more.  House Democrats have offered a balanced plan that reduces spending, closes tax loopholes, and doesn’t place the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of middle-class families.”

Second Vice Chair Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38): “The number one priority of this Congress should be creating jobs. Instead, we are wasting time with another manufactured crisis. We should be doing all that we can to prevent indiscriminate, draconian cuts from devastating our economy. American families, small businesses and the markets deserve economic security right now. It’s time for Republicans to join with Democrats and avoid these across-the-board spending cuts that will harm our economy and undermine job creation.  It’s time for Congress to do the right thing.”

CHC Whip Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01): “It is time to stop the games. March 1 is right around the corner and now is the time for the Republican Leadership to bring forward a balanced plan to replace the damaging sequester. The uncertainty these draconian cuts are bringing to our economy will stunt our recovery and put more than 750,000 Americans out of a job this year. One of our largest employers, Sandia Laboratories has implemented a hiring freeze due tosequestration. More than 7,000 civilian military personnel inNew Mexicoare facing furloughs – resulting in more than $42 million in income loss. Nearly 10,000 New Mexicans will not be able to get the help and skills they need to find a job. For states likeNew Mexicothat are struggling and already experiencing negative job growth, these cuts are devastating. We must do everything we can to prevent them.”

Rep. José E. Serrano (NY-15): “The dire consequences of the sequester were enacted to bring about a reasonable deficit reduction compromise. Time and again Democrats — led by President Obama — have offered balanced, reasonable plans to avoid these harmful cuts only to see Republicans refuse to compromise. It is time to come to a sensible compromise solution on behalf of the working families who will be harmed by these senseless sequester cuts.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40): “Allowing the sequester to go into effect means devastating cuts inCalifornia. Instead of creating jobs, we’re being led down a path that puts approximately 1,200 teacher and aide jobs at risk and furloughs 64,000 Department of Defense employees inCalifornia. Instead of helping people get back to work, we are set to lose $3.3 million in funding for job search assistance, meaning 129,000 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment. This is simply unacceptable.”

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07): “Sequestration is a failure.  It represents the failure of House Republicans to care for 70,000 children who will lose Head Start services.  It shows Congressional Republican have failed the four million seniors who will be denied access to vital food programs.   For Latino working families who disproportionately rely on these services, sequestration represents Washington Republicans’ failure to compromise, lead or find solutions.  Latino voters will not forget who failed them.”

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32): “Hardworking people from my district have lost their jobs, and we need to ensure critical services that support them and their families will not be cut. We must reduce spending, but forcing the middle class to bear the burden is not the solution. Ending tax breaks for millionaires and corporations will ensure that they also pay their fair share. The Republicans’ unwillingness to bend on raising these additional revenues is putting the jobs of thousands and the mental and physical well-being of our youngsters, seniors, servicemen and women, and minorities at risk. It is well past time to come together on a balanced plan to avoid these harmful spending cuts.”

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva  (AZ-03): “Last year’s election showed us why the Voting Rights Act is as important as ever. A lot of people have tried to convince us that civil rights are old news, that we’re past all that, that it’s no big deal and we’ve evolved. Well, we haven’t – certainly not all the way. As I was so proud to say this morning on the steps of the Supreme Court, we need to protect the very basic right to vote for everyone no matter who thinks it’s unnecessary.”

Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-08): “Sequestration threatens the jobs of hundreds of thousands of middle class Americans, as well as vital services for children, seniors, and our troops. Congress must not wait any longer to come to an agreement.”

Rep. Tony Cardenas (CA-29): “Cutting funds in this irresponsible manner will hurt thousands of businesses and families in my district. Cuts will cripple Head Start programs that educate children across the Valley, the FAA personnel who man the towers and ramps at Van Nuys Airport and the hundreds of police, firefighters and paramedics who face an already decimated budget. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will negotiate in good faith before these cuts harm the people of theSan Fernando Valley. I also look forward to the Speaker finally allowing members of our House to vote on a responsible solution to these cuts.”

Rep. Pete Gallego (TX-23): “In small townWest Texas, when there is a fire, everyone works together to put the fire out.  No one focuses on how the fire started or who started the fire until after the fire is out. Here and now inWashington, many folks are more focused on who is to blame for the sequesterthan in trying to do anything about it – or worse, they use inflammatory rhetoric to add fuel to the fire. Not having a vote this week is a decision by some in Congress for decreased border security, job loss, and furloughs. It devastates local communities- and the State ofTexas.  Let’s put politics aside and lets work together to avert the sequestration.”

Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA-35): “There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, but we should do so without harming seniors, our military, small business owners, students, or our children. In California, it is estimated that withSequestration, more than 15,000 children will not receive vaccines for diseases such as the measles, whooping cough and influenza and 8,200 will be kicked out of federally funded early childhood education programs. This is unacceptable. Congress must work in a bipartisan fashion toward solutions, not sequesters, to create jobs and responsibly bring down the deficit. We must do it for our nation’s future.”

Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51): “I am outraged that Republicans would stand idly by and allow these disastrous, self-inflicted cuts to go into effect. It is clear that House Republicans do not care about the irreversible harm sequestration will inflict on our working families, our seniors, and our military.  We need to focus on a fair and balanced plan that will create jobs and strengthen our economy, not on devastating draconian cuts that will destroy our nation.”

*  *  *

Nearly 100 national Christian leaders released a letter February 25, to President Obama and the leaders of Congress “affirming the government’s responsibility concerning poor people. The letter further stated “Assuring government’s obligation to advance the common good, ensure fairness, and defend the most vulnerable is good religion and good politics.” The letter was sent on behalf of the ecumenical “Circle of Protection” coalition.

“We appreciate that President Obama has kept his promise to the Circle of Protection to protect the poor, and that Republicans and Democrats agreed to shield many core programs benefiting people living in or near poverty from the sequestration cuts,” wrote the leaders. “The focus of our nation’s budget negotiations should not be about which politicians win or lose, but about whether our budget decisions reflect our values. We will ask our churches to pray as you continue to work together on the budget.”

Signers of the letter included representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), National Association of Evangelicals, Bread for the World, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Reformed Church, theWesleyanChurch, theEvangelicalLutheranChurchinAmerica, theUnitedMethodistChurchand severalOrthodoxChurches.


More information is available online: www.circleofprotection.us


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