5 Looming Budget Cuts We Can Blame on Congress

Sequestration is a mouthful of a word, but — if you’re a student, teacher or parent — it is one we’ll be talking a lot about soon unless Congress acts fast.

The massive automatic budget cuts, the result of a political deal between Republicans and Democrats to raise the federal debt ceiling, are scheduled to go into effect starting January 2.†The cuts were intended as a carrot to get Congress to compromise on deficit reduction but no compromise has been reached. Enacted into law under the Budget Control Act last year, sequestration is looming over us as part of the “fiscal cliff.”

$1.2 trillion in cuts must be made over the next decade starting with†$109 billion in†overall cuts come the start of 2013. The White House Office of Management and Budget released a394 page report with precise details last week while emphasizing that the Obama administration is not behind the “deeply destructive” cuts, which it was obliged by law to publish.

Here are five ways that sequestration will affect us.

Funding For Public Schools Could Be Cut to 2003 Levels

Everyone wrings their hands over the state of America’s schools. But sequestration will turn back the clock for U.S. students to 2003, as it would decrease eduction funding to the levels of a decade ago.

That’s a real problem because, in the past ten years, U.S. schools added 5.4 million students at a time when tax cuts for the wealthy have reduced school district’s budgets, says Dennis Van Roekel, President of the†National Education Association (NEA) in†Education Week. U.S. public schools could lose a total of $4.8 billion, an analysis by the NEA reveals.

Funding For Students with Disabilities Could Be Cut to 2001 Levels

Kids with disabilities like†my son are covered under the federal†Individuals with Education Act (IDEA) but, under sequestration, more than a billion dollars could be lost from federal funding for special education.†The reduced funding would mean that school districts would have to rely on state and local governments to provide students with the appropriate services mandated under IDEA.

Since 2006, costs for special education have risen 25 percent, according to the NEA’s analysis (pdf). Sequestration would turn back the clock, with funding reduced to near-2001 levels.

College Students Face Higher Fees For Certain Loans

Fees for unsubsidized Stafford student loans will rise by 7.6 percent to about 1.1 percent of a total loan. PLUS-loan and unsubsidized-loan fees would rise slightly, from about 4 percent to about 4.3 percent of a total loan. These are small differences but, as I know from a recent conversation with a very stressed-out student (whose sibling just started college and who has a brother who will soon), any increase in college fees has the potential to create financial havoc.

Fortunately, Pell Grants for students from lower-income backgrounds would not be affected.

Billions and Millions Could Be Cut From Life-Saving Medical Research Funding

Basic research is crucial to developing new medicines and treatments that can save lives. The National Institutes of Health face a cut of 8.2 percent of their $30 billion appropriation, a loss of funds amounting to†more than $2.5 billion.†The National Science Foundation faces losses of as much as $586 million; the Department of Energy Office of Science, cuts of as much as $400 million.

Your Job Could Be Cut

These cuts don’t mean that scientists would have to cut back on lab supplies, but on jobs such as those for laboratory technicians and researchers. Via†Raw Story, Judith S. Bond, president of the†Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), says that “the loss of funds due to sequestration will curtail vital research projects at universities and institutions in all 50 states and result in layoffs of thousands of Americans.”

The NEA’s analysis (pdf) also predicts that 80,000 Americans employed in public education could lose their jobs.

Sequestration is the ugly legacy of the “crisis” over the debt ceiling that the GOP, “egged on by†Tea Party extremists in Congress,” used to hold “the nation hostage,” as Roekel†writes in†Education Week. All†the cuts detailed above could have, should have, been avoided.


Related Care2 Coverage

Why Iím Giving Obama and Romney a B in Science

Romney: Students Should Get ĎAs Much Education As They Can Afford

Top 5 Worst Lies Paul Ryan Told



Photo credit: Thinkstock


ERIKA S1 years ago


ERIKA S1 years ago


Jack G.
Jack G5 years ago

Why don't you blame the Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed years of inability to put together a budget for the President to sign. They had no problem ram rodding programs from 2008 to 2010 whan people woke up and stopped the lunacy. The lack of leadership of President Obama was abvious when he could not even get his Democratic Congress to do their job. nstead the raised a ceiling and borrowed money so that they could continue their irrational spending.

Cheryl I.
Past Member 5 years ago


Julie D.
Julie D5 years ago

@ Andrea P: Bravo! I would send you a handful of stars if I could!

A N M.
anne M5 years ago

The problem is that most members of congress are wealthy people who have no concept of what's important and what isn't, what's overpriced and what isn't. They never question the cost of all these sci-fi toys those overgrown kids in the Pentagon want but when it comes to mortgage loans and student loans, etc., they start scrimping and penny pinching. For goodness sakes, any military hardware that doesn't even work correctly should be sent back to the manufacturer and a refund should be requested, be that a rifle that jams or a tank that gets stuck in the sand or whatever, but guess what? This never happens. Why not?

Evelyn Wadsworth
Evelyn W5 years ago

Duane B and Nick R, you two are brilliant in your summation of the situation,as usual.

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago


Kimberly J.
Kimberly J5 years ago

Audry B, did you bother to read the article or do you always just spout off everything you hear on Faux news? Allow me to enlighten you by quoting the final paragraph in the article.

"Sequestration is the ugly legacy of the “crisis” over the debt ceiling that the GOP, “egged on by Tea Party extremists in Congress,” used to hold “the nation hostage,” as Roekel writes in Education Week. All the cuts detailed above could have, should have, been avoided."

Susan A.
SusanAWAY Allen5 years ago

Poor Audrey. You are so brainwashed by the right-wing conservative news media, such as Fox News, et al, you are just deluded. If anyone needs to do some research, it is you my pitiful, uninformed friend. Unfortunately, I find arguing with people of your ilk to be useless. You drank the kool aid and there is little to no help for you unfortunately.