The impact of many of the federal budget cuts that appear destined to begin on Friday won't be felt immediately, but that doesn't mean they won't be felt. Just as it took a while for the economy to recover from the economic collapse in the last year of the Bush administration it will take time for the economy to begin sinking again. When that decline starts Americans will know why.
The White House, which released a state by state projection of the impact of the cuts on Sunday night, forecasts $13 million in education cuts for Massachusetts, as well as the elimination of work-study and job-training programs. Across the nation, there will be job cuts and furloughs, particularly in the Department of Defense, layoffs of food inspectors and the end of childhood vaccination programs. There will be cuts in Violence against Women and other valuable programs. These losses, and the losses that cannot be anticipated as the nation ventures into uncharted territory, will threaten the modest economic recovery of the last few years and will have long-term implications for the poor, children, the elderly and many others. All needlessly.
The sequester is partly the result of first-term naivety on the part of President Obama that we hope he is finally cured of. He thought the Republican Party would compromise and reach a deal including budget cuts and tax increases before allowing cuts to happen that will hurt their constituents, but he failed to grasp the full extent of the GOP's death wish and its allegiance to failed ideology.
While Republican congressional leaders talk regularly about the "will of the people" they ignore the will of the people expressed last November 6, when a Democratic president was re-elected, Democrats strengthened their hold on the Senate and Democrats made inroads in the House. (Democrats actually collected one million more votes than House Republicans but GOP gerrymandering protected the party's majority.) The party's hack and slash approach and insistence on tax breaks for the wealthy was rejected, but the GOP's latest manufactured crisis is kicking into reality and there will be repercussions.