When Sequestration Hits, Women and Children Bear Heavy Burden of Cuts

There is a deadline coming this Friday. On March 1, the federal budget cuts known as "sequestration" are scheduled to take effect, forcing nearly $85 billion in drastic and completely unnecessary budget cuts to programs Americans rely on daily. These cuts are easily preventable, but too many politicians in Washington are more concerned about protecting tax loopholes for the wealthy and large corporations than they are about the 1 million jobs that will vanish if sequestration goes into effect.

We face Friday's crisis solely because right-wing members of Congress refuse to support the balanced approach of spending cuts and tax reform that President Obama has been proposing to solve our fiscal difficulties. They refuse to consider any alternative that includes the raising of revenue. They oppose ending subsidies for companies that ship jobs overseas. They oppose removing loopholes that allow the largest corporations in America to avoid paying any taxes. They oppose any compromise that would make oil companies give up corporate welfare. Instead, they want poor and working families to bear the entire burden of deficit reduction.

The across-the-board cuts that go into effect on Friday are going to impact every American family. But the poor and working families are about to be hit hard. And women and children are going to bear the brunt of some totally unnecessary cuts that will make it more difficult for them to avoid hunger and homelessness.

If Congress doesn't act soon, approximately 600,000 poor women and children will be dropped from nutrition and food programs run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thirty thousand low-income children are going to lose access to child development programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The poorest families receiving rental assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development will lose that help and may be forced into homelessness. More than 100,000 men and women receiving temporary housing assistance, along with their families, will be removed from the emergency shelters and apartments where they currently are living.

The cuts planned for education programs will also harm the employees in our schools -- overwhelmingly female -- and the children who benefit from the important work they do. More than 10,000 teachers and aides funded by Title 1 education funds will lose funding for their jobs. Roughly 1.2 million disadvantaged children will lose access to tutoring, after-school activities and other programs designed to help them achieve and succeed.

It's time for the tea party and its allies in Congress to stop protecting massive tax breaks enjoyed by Wall Street and the wealthiest Americans and start asking everyone to pay their fair share. Let's close the tax loopholes before we make life far more difficult for the women and children struggling to get by in today's economy.