If Washington Doesn’t See a Problem, Does that Mean it Doesn’t Exist?

By Catherine Singley, Senior Policy Analyst

Children at Teaching and Mentoring Communities (TMC), an NCLR Affiliate.

The Washington Post’s June 30th article “They said the sequester would be scary.  Mostly, they were wrong” callously overlooks the pain that sequestration is inflicting on the most vulnerable in our communities.  Drastic funding cuts to federal programs that serve low-income children and families have real-life consequences.  NCLR constantly hears from social service providers in our Affiliate network that the cuts are hampering their efforts to educate young minds, provide skills training to the underemployed, and counsel first-time homebuyers.

For example, in Colorado, aspiring entrepreneurs will have less access to business training and counseling programs through NCLR’s Affiliate Mi Casa Resource Center, whose contract with the U.S. Small Business Administration will be reduced due to $902 million in cuts.  They are the faces of the sequester.  So far, however, these programs haven’t attracted the public outrage—and the resulting political exceptionalism—enjoyed by more flush federal agencies backed by wealthy interest groups.

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But Americans, including Latino voters, will not be fooled into submission.  In May, we surveyed more than 4,000 registered Latino voters in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada via telephone about their views on the federal budget.  An overwhelming 92 percent agreed that dealing with the federal budget deficit should not place an undue burden on families or children, with more than 74 percent assigning this as a high priority.  More than half agreed that high-income individuals and corporations should pay more to reduce the deficit, while an additional 30 percent said a combination of budget cuts and raising new revenue for job creation would be the best approach.

Journalists can choose to ignore the faces of sequestration.  But lawmakers do so at their own peril.

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