We talked last week about the effects of sequestration cuts on the military, which have already led to cuts in the Army’s Tuition Assistance program, benefiting veterans looking for financial aid to get a college degree. It’s not the only military program related to education hurting under the sequester.
On the 10-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, and scholarships for children of troops who died fighting in that conflict are being cut by thousands of dollars, thanks to sequestration.
The awards, called the Iraq and Afghanistan War Grants, go to undergraduate students whose moms or dads died “as a result of military service performed in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11,” according to the Department of Education.
Awards that have already been established are safe, but as of March 1, the dollar amount for each new grant is being reduced by 37.8 percent from what a student would have received last year. That means young adults will receive up to $2,133.81 less if they apply for a grant for the first time this year.
Remember, all of this is entirely unnecessary. Congress could just turn the sequester off and allow the deficit to shrink on its own. The Iraq and Afghanistan War Grants may have to cut under the damaging policy, but the policy itself doesn’t have to happen.
But congressional Republicans see these cuts as a “victory,” so they’re inclined to leave them alone.
What’s more, let’s not forget that it’s not just military servicemen and women and their families feeling the pinch. It’s the Head Start centers who are having to exclude kids, the furloughs for those who help keep Americans’ food supply safe, the hardship on low-income Americans who rely on housing assistance, and on and on.
For all of the Beltway assumptions that sequestration was a dud, that President Obama “cried wolf” when he warned of damaging consequences, and that “no one noticed” the effects of the policy, real people are facing real hardship for no good reason. Much of Washington appears to have largely moved on, but for those feeling the pinch, that’s not an option.
Greg Sargent hasn’t forgotten.
Republicans have assumed an air of triumphalism in the sequester fight; today GOP party officials are gleefully pointing to the news that the White House has warned that an Easter Egg Roll could be canceled thanks to the sequester, which is presumably supposed to prove that the White House is playing politics with the cuts.
But the superficial skirmishing about egg hunts and White House tours belies the fact that the sequester cuts are very real and that this is a long game that’s only just begun. Politico makes this clear in a must read piece on the impact the sequester cuts are having on two districts – one Republican, the other Democratic – and the political pressure those cuts are putting on two lawmakers to do something about them.
The Republican lawmaker, Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, and the Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Bill Enyart, are already taking blame for the 4,500 civilian workers at a local air force base who are set to receive furlough notices. Both are also worried about federal funding drying up for a host of other institutions and social services in their districts.
Indeed, it’s local media that’s taking the lead in highlighting the real-world effects. A Democratic source passed along these sequestration headlines from this morning’s dailies:
* Honolulu Civil Beat: Budget Actions in D.C. This Week Will Mean Tough Choices For Hawaii
* Standard Examiner: Despite stopgap budget, furloughs at Hill still possible
* Pensacola News Journal: Blue Angels arrive amid uncertainty
* Atlanta Journal Constitution: Sequester hits Uncle Sam unevenly
* Minneapolis Star Tribune: Sequester cuts already hitting Minnesota’s reservation schools
* St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Furlough notices landing at Scott Air Force Base
* The News & Advance: Lynchburg airport tower closure decision postponed
* Hartford Courant: Federal Cuts Could Upset F-35 Production In Connecticut
* New Haven Register: Blumenthal makes pitch to save air traffic control towers
* Erie Times News: Control tower at Erie International Airport to survive federal budget cuts
Stories like these pop up every day, all because of a dumb policy that congressional Republicans used to hate, now love, and won’t undo.
Postscript: The American Bridge super PAC has created a website called C-Quest.org, intended to provide “cut-by-cut coverage of sequestration.” It’s worth taking a look.