Sometimes we can forget that when we talk about Washington’s battles over our government’s budget that there are lives actual Americans at stake. Sadly, all too often we lose sight of the fact that many of those most impacted aren’t even old enough to vote. The fight over sequestration — the forced chopping of about $85 billion from our budget — is one of those times.
When the White House was warning everyone in the country earlier this year that sequestration could have devastating impacts on the everyday lives of people, many pundits on the right and the left wrote it off as nothing but political posturing. But for nearly sixty-thousand pre-school kids their educations just got a little more difficult at the hands of the sequester.
Head-start programs are relied-upon by many working families to ensure their kids get access to vital pre-K education, health care and other services. If we’re going to live in a country where it takes four jobs to make ends meet, programs like Head Start will remain an integral part of keeping both our current economy humming and our educational system full of kids prepared and ready to take on school.
Thanks to sequestration cuts, over a million days of before and after-school care for working families has been cut. Salaries for the Head Start staff have been cut. It’s estimated that as a result of these budget cuts 57,000 actual living, breathing kids have had their access to head start programs completely cut-off. Maybe for some on the right that’s not a big deal. After all, they all screamed from the top of their lungs that cutting eighty-five billion from a budget as big as the government’s shouldn’t have been a big deal at all, but perhaps when one of those 57,000 kids messes up their order at a local fast food chain in about 12 or 13 years, they’ll wonder what school that kid went to…and the answer will be, “a woefully under-funded one.”
The true, undeniable tragedy in a story like this one is that there are many in this country who benefit from the free-market society we created, but who try their hardest to not pay in. If eighty-five billion is such a paltry number, how about we propose that until that 85 billion dollars is made up by corporate tax rate hikes, we’re cutting off all corporate welfare programs, much in the same fashion as this insane sequestration? Imagine the heads that would explode if we told conservatives we now expect every fracking, drilling and financing company to pay more in taxes to cover the sequestration cuts. The irony of course is that to raise $85 billion more in corporate tax revenues isn’t all that hard considering corporate profits are still at an all-time high.
In the end, it’s not the people Congress that will suffer the most for these childish games they are playing. It’s all the rest of us. If we’re not parents of one of the 57,000 kids who just lost their pre-kindergarten access, we’re the taxpayers who will front the costs of those kids being tossed into the social safety net. It’s downright despicable, and morally reprehensible, and what’s more — many saw this coming and tried to warn everyone. Now the question is how much more pain is in store and for how many more real, every-day American citizens?
Watch this video from May on why the sequestration is bad for education, courtesy of MSNBC: