March 01, 2013
Congress Fails Seniors, All Citizens, by Allowing Sequestration to Begin
The American people deserve a compromise that cuts budget deficits in a responsible way
The following is a statement by Jean Friday, President of the PA Alliance for Retired Americans:
“Beginning today, March 1st 2013, drastic and harmful cuts to discretionary spending called “Sequestration” will be in place throughout most areas of the Federal Government. While no one disagrees that responsible deficit reduction should be a long-term goal for our elected leaders, Sequestration is not the answer. It is a messy, cruel and lazy measure that falls hardest where we can least afford it. Furthermore, it threatens our fragile, slow economic recovery.
“Very soon, these cuts will be felt by millions of Americans who will have their lives impacted. Some will lose their job as a government employee or as the employee of a business that contracts with the government or a non-profit supported by the government. The direct job losses are estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands; while the indirect losses are beyond estimation. In fact, depending on how deep job losses are and how much tax revenue is lost, Sequestration may not be deficit reduction at all!
“But this issue is about more than just the unemployment rate and budget numbers. All kinds of vulnerable citizens will be impacted by this misguided policy. People of all ages, from every state, of every race will suffer. Specifically for seniors, we stand to lose rides to medical appointments, help with home heating costs and even food for needy seniors. Pennsylvania stands to lose almost $850,000 in this year alone from Meals on Wheels. Even programs such as Social Security or Veterans programs could suffer. While these programs are “exempt” from cuts, they will still see reductions in their administrative budgets, leading to poorer service for beneficiaries.
“Of course, seniors are also concerned about the Country we are leaving to the younger generations. Sequester would cut environmental clean-ups, education funding, crime fighting and crime victim funding, money for work-study programs and job training programs…the list goes on.
“Congress should do its job, and pass a responsible deficit-reduction plan. What do I mean by responsible? First of all the arbitrary number that will be saved by the sequester should be set aside. A compromise plan should not be married to it as if it came down from Moses! Second, it should judge budget items on their merits and make any cuts that are appropriate, while also keeping an eye on unintended costs down the road (so many budget cuts can be penny-wise and pound-foolish). Across-the-board cuts should be avoided – Congress gets paid enough to pay attention to the details. Third, it should include ways to spend money smarter. Two good examples for some savings in Medicare would be to allow negotiation of prescription drug prices, and apply the Medicaid pharmaceutical rebates to dual eligible seniors. Lastly, the compromise should include asking the rich to sacrifice as well. The January 1st measure made some necessary adjustments to tax rates, but too many loopholes built just for the rich and large corporations still exist.
“There is still time. Sequestration of funds begins today, but it could end tomorrow. On behalf of Pennsylvania seniors, I call on Congress to get to work and pass an alternative to sequestration that is responsible, protects our citizens and protects our economy.”
CLICK HERE for more info about measures supported by the Alliance for Retired Americans to reduce the deficit responsibly.
The Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, led by President Jean Friday of Westmoreland County, has over 300,000 members and 144 local affiliates across the Commonwealth. PARA’s mission is to educate seniors and the public about retiree issues, and organize seniors to advocate for their interests in Harrisburg and Washington. To learn more, visit www.pennretiredamericans.org.