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Editorial: Sequestration could mean less aid for students

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | MAY 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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The sequestration was a package of budget cuts put into place that was thought too painful for Congress to allow so that it would be able to agree on a rational deficit-reduction plan. It included cuts to defense, environmental-protection initiatives, scientific research, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, law enforcement, and numerous other government-funded programs totaling about $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

Nevertheless, sequestration went into effect in March, and Congress recently decided that budget cuts of $253 million imposed on the Federal Aviation Administration were too much because of mass furloughs, which led to numerous flight delays. There were 863 delays on April 24 alone that an FAA press release attributed to these layoffs.

Obviously, Congress was right to rectify this insane budgetary move, but it’s highly troubling that many of the other affected programs, which didn’t serve the interests of the powerful, were left to the mercy of sequestration.

While high-ranking politicians and businessmen are frequently flying across the nation and around the world, middle- and low-income individuals are not likely to use airlines aside from the occasional vacation if at all.

Cuts from sequestration, according to a White House Fact Sheet, would mean that “Around 2,370 fewer low-income students in Iowa would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college, and around 1,020 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.” Cutting funds designed specifically to help those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds when student-loan debt is a major problem is downright cruel.

Unfortunately, even education funding for the youngest Iowans will be hit hard. Head Start is a locally run, federally funded program that provides such developmental care as preschool to young children from low-income backgrounds. Sequestration would cut off around 500 children in Iowa from this service, which is essential for children who may otherwise lose access to preschool and health care that their families can’t afford.

As though children aren’t getting it hard enough, federal funding for vaccinations has also been cut. Approximately 1,320 Iowa children will not receive vaccines for whooping cough, the flu, measles, and several other potentially lethal ailments.

Think the cuts are already despicable enough? Approximately 1,500 fewer AIDS tests will occur because of $61,000 in cuts to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services.

Sequestration cuts will hit victims of domestic violence, too. The STOP Violence Against Women Program is also on the chopping block, set to lose $65,000 in funding and serving approximately 200 fewer Iowans as a result.

Around 2,000 employees from the Department of Defense in Iowa are also set to be laid off, and just in case that wasn’t enough, $376,000 was cut from Iowa’s job-training and placement programs, serving 12,680 fewer people.

These cuts were obviously never intended to go into effect. Sequestration cuts were supposed to be draconian. Who would actually be OK with eliminating vaccines for children, slashing services to victims of domestic violence, taking away preschool services from low-income children and snatching work-study money from already financially struggling college students, but decide that flight delays are too problematic?

Ladies and gentlemen, may we present the U.S. Congress.


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