Periodically, the CBPP’s Jared Bernstein publishes new installments of his “Sequester Watch” series, helping document the real-world consequences Americans are facing as a result of the ongoing, needlessly stupid sequestration cuts. The latest list is a doozy.
What’s more, note that this is a problem that simply doesn’t end.
Three of the largest federal agencies will close to the public on Friday, the first time since the government shutdowns of the 1990s that large corners of the government have ceased operations on a weekday.
The mass furlough of 115,000 employees at the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the small Office of Management and Budget – 5 percent of the federal workforce – is happening because of the budget cuts known as sequestration.
Ed Kilgore added this morning, “Now this is very old news if you are, say, a Meals on Wheels beneficiary denied services, a parent of a child in Head Start who didn’t make the cut, someone trying to survive on a smaller unemployment check, or an employee of a government contractor who has made anticipatory furloughs or layoffs. But today they are joined by 115,000 fellow-citizens who can proudly say they’ve contributed to a symbolic victory over a largely imaginary enemy.”
For what it’s worth – and in my dreams, it’s worth quite a bit – the sequester is being felt by an increasingly large segment of the population. New Washington Post/ABC News polling found that 37% of Americans say they’ve felt a negative impact as the result of sequestration, which may not sound like much, but that’s pretty good size chunk of the population, and it’s growing. The same poll found that most of the public also opposes the policy, regardless of party affiliation.
It reached the point this week in which House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), looking ahead to an ongoing sequestration problem, called the situation “idiotic.”
So here’s a wacky idea: why not turn the darned thing off? House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters yesterday, with a straight face, that job creation remains his party’s “number one priority.” I find that literally unbelievable, but Boehner can easily prove me wrong – the sequester is set to cut U.S. job creation by 750,000 jobs this year. If lowering unemployment is House Republicans’ “number one priority,” why not stop sequestration and give jobs a boost?