The $1.2 trillion cuts over 10 years known as the sequester will hit hardest on women and African Americans according to accounts being released by Democrats including the Congressional Black Caucus. A disproportionate number of women and blacks work in public service and government—where the hits will hit hardest. On other levels, with unemployment almost twice as high among African Americans, any cuts to spending programs which assist those in need will affect African Americans on a much greater level. Women who need assistance on WIC programs which assist with simple milk and food for children in need will be affected.
And for those youth who are excitedly receiving admission letters and financial aid letters for college, they will be receiving decreased aid as a result of the sequester. Some colleges and universities are trying to avoid having to cut programs and aid. Others will have no choice but to cut financial aid due to sequester. Our children are our future. And their futures will be adversely affected by the sequester whether from cuts to Head Start, WIC programs or financial aid for college. With many parents out of work, under employed or under paid, there will not be ways for families to offset these unnecessary sequester cuts.
For those persons who are struggling to survive on a day to day basis, the sequester could not come at a worse time. A study done by the Center for American Progress indicates that “minorities would be hurt by cuts to long-term unemployment benefits, workforce development programs, early childhood grants, youth job programs, healthcare research and home heating assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).”
Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D.CA) indicates that the cuts will adversely affect jobs in the public sector and federal government where a larger percentage of women and blacks are employed. Lee said in 2011, employed blacks made up 20 percent of the federal, state and local public-sector workforce, and that women were 50 percent more likely to work in the public sector.
There are other ways that the sequester will affect women, blacks and youth, according to a Think Progress report. Here are a few examples:
- 2700 schools lost
- 9880 education staff lost
- 70,000 children being taken off the Head Start program
- 30,000 teacher jobs
- 1.2 million students will be affected
|All of these above cuts in funds will come from low income communities.|
- Housing vouchers, shelter programs, and rural rent assistance are also on the chopping block which may result in 125,000 persons at risk of homelessness.
- Labor Secretary Hilda Solis wrote, “For the long-term unemployed, more than 3.8 million people receiving Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits will see their benefits reduced by as much as 9.4 percent. Affected long-term unemployed individuals would lose an average of more than $400 in benefits.”
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warns about “elimination of rental assistance for more than 10,000 very low income rural residents, generally elderly, disabled, and single family head of households.
- $43 million for food programs for seniors of which many of them are women.
Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, in the face of these devastating cuts goes on TV and says: “I don’t know whether it’s going to hurt the economy or not….I don’t think anyone quite understands how the sequester is really going to work.” This is what our House leader says in face of real evidence to the contrary. There is nothing abstract or unknown about cutting jobs and its effect on the economy,
Most importantly, the sequester is not a partisan, a color blind, urban or rural issue. It affects Democrats and Republicans alike. Sequester cuts do not know whether a person is black, white, Latino, Asian, Democrat or Republican. There are many white Republicans, particularly women who fall into the categories of those who will be hit hardest by the cuts. And these women need to tell their Republican representatives that they want action.
Sequester cuts don’t care what party affiliation to whom one belongs. But sequester cuts are not an equal opportunity chopping board. The sequester cuts will affect women, minorities and youth the hardest. Now is the time to act before the real pain sets in. But who’s going to get the GOP House members to act before the pain becomes unbearable for women, blacks and our youth? Apparently, no one knows the answer to that $1.2 trillion question. House Chaplain Barry Black said it best at his recent prayer before the sequester set in, “Help save us from ourselves”. I would add to help save us from the obstructionist Republican controlled Congress.
Debbie Hines is an attorney who often appears in the media addressing issues on race and gender. She also contributes to the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center blog. Her writings have also appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Afro-American.