White House: middle class will take biggest hit from sequester cuts
With just three weeks until sequester cuts take effect, the Obama administration is appealing to middle class Americans who it says have the most to lose. According to a Feb. 8 White House fact sheet, the most damaging effects of these indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts will be felt by the middle class in the areas of education, food safety, mental health, research and innovation, as well as small businesses.
The administration asserts that automatic cuts to education will eliminate 70,000 young children from Head Start, put 10,000 teacher jobs at risk, and potentially result in slashing funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides, and staff. The White House also warns that if a sequester takes effect, up to 2,100 fewer food inspections could occur, putting families at risk and costing billions in lost food production.
Another casualty of the sequester would be mental health programs, the press release says, with up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children at risk of going untreated. In addition, the White House predicts that cuts to research and innovation programs could impact up to 12,000 scientists and students. And, the administration makes the case that automatic cuts triggered by a sequester would reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to $902 million.
The White House places blame for the sequester impasse between Congress and the administration squarely on the shoulders of congressional Republicans.
"Unfortunately, many Republicans in Congress refuse to ask the wealthy to pay a little more by closing tax loopholes so that we can protect investments that are helping grow our economy and keep our country safe," the White House says. "We cannot simply cut our way to prosperity, and if Republicans continue to insist on an unreasonable cuts-only approach, the middle class risks paying the price."
In a Feb. 10 blog, Senior Advisor to the President Dan Pfeiffer asserts that some congressional Republicans "would rather see these cuts hit than ask the wealthiest and big corporations to pay a little bit more."