by Duane Campbell
The Republican campaign for austerity makes educators and students, as well as millions of others, the victims in a strategy to make the middle class and the poor pay for the excesses of the banking /economic crisis.
California schools have just begun to recover from 4 years of extreme budget austerity and recklessness at the state level. It would take at least 3 years to return to normal. Now, the federal sequester will impose new cuts on school districts which receive federal funds- such as Title I, and Migrant Education. The vast majority of schools and districts will not be directly affected until the 2013–14 school year because of the “forward funded” nature of federal education spending. However, when children have less food to eat, don't receive their vaccinations and lack medical care, schools suffer.
From the Coalition on Human Needs
“The Sequester’s Beginnings. Congress included sequestration – or across-the-board cuts in all but a number of exempted programs – in its deficit reduction legislation, the Budget Control Act of 2011.
The law set 10 years of appropriations caps, projected to save about $1.5 trillion through FY 2021. Congress was supposed to agree on a plan to reduce the deficit another $1.2 trillion, which could be achieved by a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. To force itself to act, Congress included an enforcer – automatic cuts that would kick in if Congress could not agree on a plan. Those cuts would be split 50-50 between Pentagon and domestic/international programs.
Congress had more than a year to come up with an alternative to cuts that would hit WIC nutrition, Head Start, public housing, unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, education, environmental and consumer protection, medical research, job training, air traffic and food safety, and a whole lot more. The President and Congressional Democrats called for new revenues to play a part in replacing these cuts. Congressional Republican leaders said no.
The House leadership pointed to legislation it had passed twice in 2012 to replace the sequester – which slashed SNAP/food stamps, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, federal employee benefits, the Child Tax Credit and other services. House leaders said they would not do anything else, and would await action by the Senate.”
The Republican Party used its majority in the House of Representatives (Congress) to force a budget sequester. This month sequester is the strategy to impose austerity.
What is austerity?
In economics austerity is the policy of reducing government spending by cutting social services such as health care, education, food assistance, and other welfare assistance. At the federal level, Republicans and some Democrats seek austerity by cutting social Security and Medicare. This week the Republicans insisted on massive budget cuts known as the sequester. By any name, these cuts are bad. In the current economic crisis, the governments of Ireland, Greece, Italy, the UK, Spain and Portugal have implemented austerity programs and cut their budgets creating more unemployment and making the recessions in these countries worse.
Austerity policies can be counter-productive because reduced government spending increases unemployment and thus cost more money for unemployment insurance and food assistance. These cut backs make the recession worse and last longer.
While unemployment remains high and economic growth slow, government policy should not impose austerity measures which reduce essential public safety programs for the middle and working classes and that shred the social safety net for the most vulnerable. Rather, government policy should prioritize public investments in job creation, public education and healthcare reform, while raising essential revenues by taxing the large corporations and the wealthiest citizens who can afford to pay.