HispanicBusiness.com asked congressional leaders, governors and mayors to respond to several questions directly related to the Sequestration and Transparency Act of 2012. Because the mandated cuts will impact every state, county and locality across the country, HispanicBusiness.com's editorial team reached out to more than a dozen Republican and Democrat policymakers from states with significant numbers of Hispanic constituents including Arizona, California, Florida, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Utah. A few lawmakers and one administration official respectfully declined to respond to sequestration-related questions. Some responded immediately.
We anticipate more policymakers will participate in this important dialogue with HispanicBusiness.com readers, as the issue of mandatory budget cuts once again takes center stage and the presidential election approaches.
Q&A With U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva
U.S. Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Natural Resources, and is first vice chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
HB: What effect do you think the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 will have on federal, state and local programs that currently support education, health care and assistance to individuals and families?
RG: The Budget Control Act will have serious impacts on health care, education and the nation's economic recovery. The recently released White House report mandated by the Sequestration Transparency Act highlighted certain serious problems, but did not capture the full impact sequestration could have on American families. To take just one example, tens of thousands of children from low-income families could be dropped from Head Start across the nation. The National Education Association has said the cuts would eliminate 80,000 of the 962,000 slots for children and more than 30,000 jobs for Head Start teachers, aides and administrators. This devastating scenario could be repeated in programs all over the country, hurting our ability to restore the country to fuller employment.
Last week the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which I co-chair, held a hearing on sequestration and tax policy issues. Chad Stone, the chief economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, testified that "in a weak economy, increases in government spending on goods and services and putting money in the hands of people who will spend it will increase demand for goods and services and increase output and employment. Cutting spending will have the opposite effect, slowing growth and job creation." Arbitrary cuts to needed programs are exactly the wrong approach.
To make matters worse, non-military social programs have already experienced deep cuts. As the recently released sequestration report states:
The number of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, Customs and Border Patrol agents, correctional officers, and federal prosecutors would be slashed. The Federal Aviation Administration's ability to oversee and manage the Nation's airspace and air traffic control would be reduced. The Department of Agriculture's efforts to inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne illnesses would be curtailed. The Environmental Protection Agency's ability to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe would be degraded. The National Institutes of Health would have to halt or curtail scientific research, including needed research into cancer and childhood diseases. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's ability to respond to incidents of terrorism and other catastrophic events would be undermined.
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