The sequester, that "Damocles sword" hanging perilously above federal spending and set to fall March 1, was supposed to be an instrument so blunt, which would cut so deeply and indiscriminately, that the cost of not reaching a bipartisan compromise on debt reduction would become unfathomable.
Now, of course, it's inevitable. Democrats won't budge on revenues (including tax hikes on the wealthy). And many Congressional Republicans think the potential $1.2 trillion in cuts to federal spending are good medicine, essential to reducing government's growing debt. The only question is how long it takes to reach a bargain, and how far reductions into sacred cows like the military will go.
Either way, we'll feel it down here in Texas if the sequester goes into effect. The White House released a fact sheet that breaks it down at the state level, by the numbers, revealing the real-world consequences of a budgetary tool whose use only 18 months ago was unthinkable.
Texas stands to lose nearly $68 million in federal support for public education, putting almost 1,000 teacher and aide jobs in jeopardy. Another $51 million in aid for the education of disabled children will evaporate. Some 4,720 low-income children between 3 and 5 years old won't be able to participate in the Head Start program.
Cuts in funding to Army installations in Texas will total some $275 million, requiring the furlough of 52,000 Department of Defense civilian employees.
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Disadvantaged, working parents will lose access to childcare for as many as 2,300 kids. Another 10,000 of them may not receive common childhood vaccinations.
We'll lose another $2.4 million in public health funding, along with $6.75 million for substance-abuse programs.
Meal assistance for seniors is looking at a $3.5 million cut.
Environmental funding for clean air and water, including grants for fish and wildlife protection, stand to lose almost $11 million in federal assistance.