If Congress cannot come up with a replacement to the sequester before the end of the week, we should eliminate the sequester entirely. One million working Americans should not be forced to pay the price for Republican stubbornness. If this goes into effect, it will be one of the most irresponsible legislative failures in the history of the Republic.
We would prefer to replace the sequester with a balanced approach to deficit reduction. The Progressive Caucus already introduced a bill called the Balancing Act that reflects what the American people voted for in November. It replaces the sequester with a fair approach to new revenue and necessary Pentagon budget cuts, and it creates jobs all over the country. It equalizes the budget cuts we've already made with revenue by closing tax loopholes for America's wealthiest individuals and corporations. We shouldn't sacrifice our economic recovery because Republicans are unwilling to vote for a penny in new contributions from their billionaire friends.
The consequences of more massive budget cuts are real. Economic growth will slow, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and more people will have to rely on government assistance to meet their basic needs. In 2013 alone, seventy thousand children will be kicked off Head Start. More than one million kids will see their schools lose education funds. Emergency responders will lose their jobs, meaning slower response times and weaker disaster preparedness. Layoffs and furloughs for Social Security workers will cause delays and hassles for millions of seniors who depend on Social Security to put food on the table. Cuts to air traffic controllers and airport security agents will mean longer waits and travel disruptions.
Unlike the majority of our Republican colleagues, we opposed the Budget Control Act and sequestration when Republicans held the world economy hostage in 2011. They created this crisis, and Congress should fix it for the sake of the country before people start getting fired.
It's time Republicans wake up to what's really about to happen to America's families. It's time to eliminate the sequester.