SENIORS: UNDERSTANDING THE SEQUESTERMar 1st, 2013 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances
What’s the Sequester?
Sequester is another new term seniors have to learn about. A helpful definition is found at about.com:
Sequestration is a term used to describe the practice of using mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if the cost of running the government exceeds either an arbitrary amount or the gross revenue it brings during the fiscal year.
Simply put, sequestration is the employment of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts in the face of annual budget deficits.
So, until Congress and the Administration can figure out how to have a meeting of the minds about the deficit, across-the-board spending cuts will be a reality for us all. What is means to senior citizens depends upon where you live and what benefits you receive from the federal government. The New York Times analysis says the military will be cut $43billion, domestic programs (health, education, drug enforcement, national parks, Hurricane Sandy relief and other programs) will be cut $26billion, Medicare payments and plans will be cut $11billion, agriculture programs and extended unemployment benefits will be cut $5billion. In each of these categories, President Obama has said he will not allow cuts to military personnel, Pell grants and programs run by the Veterans Affairs department, and Social Security, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, federal retirement benefits, nutrition and other low-income programs.
Understanding the Cuts
ProPublica.org (Journalism in the Public Interest) provides a succinct and helpful guide to understanding the budget cuts. A Graphic Guide to the Sequester offers Internet links to various sites that analyze what and where budget cuts will be made. The links include
- White House estimates of state-by-state impacts of sequestration;
- The Texas Tribune offers interactive sequester cuts by state;
- ‘Cliffhanger’ Interactive guide to the gridlock;
- Federal grants to states;
- USA Today, The Looming Sequester;
- Pew Charitable Trusts, Defense Spending over 10 years
These articles provide helpful information about the sequestration issue. Seniors will do well to study them for better insight into the reality of the economic hits so many programs and services will take.