Words: Charles Regnante
Washington, D.C. – Sequester. It’s not a word we often hear. Recently, it’s the most talked about word in print and electronic media. According to Dictionary.com, the word sequester means “a general cut in government spending”.
What’s the big deal about the government cutting spending, you ask? Doesn’t that happen everyday? Spending cuts are normal but a sequester means that government programs at almost every level will be cut at the same time.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, $85.3 billion is expected to be cut from the federal budget in fiscal year 2013. The affects of which will be felt from our nation’s capitol to the smallest towns in our states.
On March 1, if Congress does not find a compromise to halt the federal sequester, cuts will be made to government programs including education, the environment, health, military, law enforcement., defense programs, Medicare, and unemployment benefits.
Since our town [Baltimore] is located near the greater Washington, DC area, the sequester could have devastating effects on the many people who work in or for the federal government. According to the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, approximately 50,000 county residents are federal employees or government contractors.
“The federal government is a major employer and a huge contributor to the local economy on every level,” said Maureen Thomas, executive director of GovConnects at the Howard County Chamber of Commerce to Columbiapatch.com.
“We have lots of folks that work at Fort Meade,” said Howard County Executive, Ken Ulman on the C4 Show Thursday morning. “We’re at war, this cyber war… to think that we’d reduce the workforce at Fort Meade or the people who are protecting our networks, that doesn’t make sense.”
If sequestration were to hit in Maryland, it would entail funding cuts to teachers and schools, work-study jobs on college campuses, Head Start Programs and environmental funding.
A White House report also said sequestration in Maryland could mean furloughs for 46,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, lowering gross pay by about $353.7 million.
Pam Klahr, the president and CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce condemned the unpredictability of the cuts in a Columbia Patch Article.“Chamber members have been saying since last year that the uncertainty surrounding the federal budget – from the Fiscal Cliff to the latest threats of major cuts — is discouraging them from expanding their operations and hiring more employees,” said Klahr. “Businesses need predictability. The uncertainty causes great distress, and businesses are in a wait-and-see mode.”
While the sequester debate rages on in the media and halls of Congress, there is one thing that the majority agrees upon, it’s critical that we address our nation’s deficit program. Whether federal government cuts comes in the form of a sequester or over time, Congressional Republicans and Democrats must set aside their political viewpoints and differences and be willing to compromise for the well-being of the nation.