More than a year after it was put into motion, the sequester is here. And it could be here to stay.
Unless congressional leaders manage to strike some kind of deal with the Obama administration before midnight Friday, President Barack Obama is expected to issue an order canceling approximately $85 billion in federal spending. It’s the unfortunate outcome of a 2011 “grand bargain” that ultimately aimed to pressure Democrats and Republicans to compromise on a deficit-reduction deal.
In theory, the potential economic consequences of suddenly gutting funding for defense and domestic programs would force both sides to agree on a package of spending cuts and revenue increases. Needless to say, no deal was made, even as both sides claim it is an outcome that no one on Capitol Hill wanted.
Everything from public education to child care subsidies and aviation safety could be on the chopping block. But a group of more than 20 Democrats are petitioning Obama in the hopes of ensuring the nation’s most critical social-safety-net programs will not be subject to budget cuts.
“Democrats have built the most popular government programs in American history -- including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- by working with Republicans whenever possible and by defeating Republican opposition whenever necessary. The torch has been passed to today’s elected officials, and we must carry it forward boldly,” states the letter, authored by Reps. Alan Grayson (Fla.) and Mark Takano (Calif.).
The congressmen note they “firmly believe” that creating jobs, and not cutting core government programs, is the best way to tackle the country’s budget deficit and stimulate economic growth.
The letter also states the democratic coalition will fight any attempt to raise the retirement age or reduce cost of living expense adjustments that “our constituents earned and need.”
More than 200,000 Americans have signed on as supporters of the letter, according to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. It has also been endorsed by several national progressive organizations, including CREDO Action, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare and the Working Families Party.
The following House members added their names to the letter:
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.)
Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.)
Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Graciela Napolitano (D-Calif.)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)
Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas)
Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa)