Republicans in Congress should be feeling good about themselves this month as they enjoy the fruits of their labor in cities across the nation, and as is usually the case, anything that gives the GOP reason to celebrate means more indigence for Americans; especially already impoverished Americans. Over the past two years several studies have revealed that America is slipping farther and farther behind the rest of the developed world in every category except military might, and Republicans can take pride that their handiwork guarantees America will continue its downward spiral into a nation of hungry, homeless, and sick Americans. One might be inclined to believe politicians would be repulsed that the richest nation in the history of the world is home to an impoverished underclass due to its failure to take care of its own citizens, but for Republicans, it is a badge of honor and sign of dedication to their libertarian masters in the corporate and financial world.
Republicans, discouraged that their policies leading to the economic crash in 2008 did not weaken tens-of-millions of Americans who lost their jobs, homes, and financial security enough, began 2011 with a crusade to finish what they started during the Bush years. Now that their precious sequester cuts are starting to bear fruit, Republicans can revel in the increasing number of children, women, seniors, and working-poor Americans who are losing already pathetic safety-net provisions they depend on for basic survival. In communities across the country, Republicans’ favorite victims are feeling the sequester’s damage, and as a value-added bonus middle class Americans employed by the defense industry joined millions of public sector workers plagued with pay cuts courtesy of the sequester’s mandatory furlough days. It is good times for Republicans who made sure every American except the uber-rich get to share the sacrifice of austerity economics that is only in the first year of a decade-long siege on the people.
Thus far, only 650,000 civilian Department of Defense workers were affected by sequester furlough days, but as they lose a significant percentage of their middle class income, their spending cutbacks will result in downstream job losses in retail, durable good, and service industries in a domino effect the entire economy will feel. Republicans were well aware the sequester would kill between 750,000 to a million jobs in the first year alone, but as Speaker John Boehner said in 2011 after learning GOP cuts would kill over a million jobs, so be it. Apparently a million job losses in the first year of the sequester is part of Republicans’ reward for convincing all Democrats that killing jobs was crucial to solving the fabricated debt and deficit crisis, but their reward does not stop there.
At least 70,000 of Republicans’ sequester victims, children living in poverty, have been evicted from the Head Start program that provides pre-school age low-income children with educational activities, free medical and dental care, and the luxury of healthy meals and snacks. In just one small California city, 1,060 children from 3 to 5 years of age, 200 children from infants to toddlers, and 10 pregnant mothers are adversely affected and 20 employees are losing their jobs. The program’s administrator said, “It’s devastating to our program that serves the neediest of children and their families,” and lamented the difficult task of determining which of the poorest kids and families to withhold food, medical, and dental care from and which employees’ jobs to eliminate. The city’s plight is not unique and the devastation is playing out in every city in the United States, and to make matters worse for cash-strapped communities it economically folly because local economies reap $9 for every $1 in Head Start spending.
The elderly are already feeling the effects of the sequester cuts as they are receiving less food assistance from Meals on Wheels, and local administrators across the country are barely coping with decreased funding. In a medium-size California city, an interfaith (sort of) non-profit is struggling to take up the slack with little success due to the economy’s toll on people who normally donated food and funds, and tight family budgets are preventing many volunteers’ from helping take up the slack to deliver meals. The interfaith non-profit also suffers because the area’s richest evangelical churches refuse to participate because Muslims, Buddhists, and Jews contribute to the effort, and there is that evangelical bible thing that “if a person does not work, they shall not eat” at work regardless the meals are for disabled, infirm, and home-bound seniors. One local humanitarian noted, in private, that garish multi-million dollar mega-churches receive tax-free city and county services and should help feed the poor, but she was well-aware that criticizing wealthy religious non-profits carries heavy penalties and certain retribution when it was time to renew city permits and licenses.
Republican cuts also affected hundreds-of-thousands of low-income Americans who lost access to public housing assistance in the most immediate consequences of the sequester. The sequester will cut more than $2 billion this year alone from housing assistance and related programs funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that means local housing authorities started freezing waiting lists for Section 8 housing assistance, and as people leave the program the freed-up vouchers will not be turned over to new applicants. HUD projects the cuts will result in 140,000 fewer families getting housing assistance, and even though HUD granted local administrators the flexibility to dip into other funds, “Housing authorities may end up being forced to tell families who
already get assistance that they are “sorry, I know you just got out of your car into an apartment, hope you didn’t sell your car.”
Americans have not yet felt the full effect of the Republican sequester cuts, and although those directly affected are reeling in the knowledge they are paying dearly for a fabricated crisis the GOP foisted on all of Washington, the long-term and downstream effects on jobs and the economy are still awaiting every American. Every dollar of cuts alleged to save America from a phony crisis means several dollars taken out of the economy that translates into more job, home, and retirement saving losses. Republicans could not be bothered to restructure the sequester cuts to lessen the pain and damage to the poorest Americans, and they have no intention to either. However, they have plans to vote for the 38th time to defund, delay, or repeal the Affordable Care Act next week in yet another attempt to produce more hardship on the American people. For the past two-and-a-half years House Republicans have wreaked havoc on the economy and the American people, and they take no greater joy than laying waste to the most vulnerable Americans regardless they have little left to take.
This group of Republicans have shown a religious inclination to create poverty, kill jobs, and impede economic recovery, and just when it appears they reached a new low, they dig a little deeper and find another demographic to punish. Americans may think they can withstand one year of the sequester cuts, but it is a ten-year plan that will increase next year when a full year’s worth of cuts go into effect. The Republicans passed a farm bill giving $195 billion to agricultural corporations, and yet found SNAP (food stamp) funding extraneous and left it out of the bill. They are gearing up to hold the debt ceiling increase hostage unless the President adopts the Ryan budget privatizing Medicare, slashing Social Security, and eliminating nearly all domestic programs, and if Americans think the sequester is bad, they have no idea what GOP cruelty entails. Republicans are unfazed that their handiwork is driving millions of Americans into poverty and burying those already in poverty in hunger, homelessness, and ill-health, and while any American with an ounce of humanity is repulsed at the state of tens-of-millions of their fellow citizens, Republicans are celebrating and plotting the next wave of cuts to create an entire population of impoverished Americans.