At Risk: Early Care and Education Funding and Sequestration

Sep 10, 2012

By Hannah Matthews

Sequestration was created in August 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which ended that year's showdown over raising the federal debt ceiling. Because Congress failed to come up with a deficit reduction plan, the Budget Control Act calls for $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts over the next decade, divided equally between defense and "non-defense discretionary" programs--the term used to refer to spending on a wide range of domestic programs including education, health, human services, and labor. Policymakers crafted the Act with the expectation that these indiscriminate cuts would be so devastating that lawmakers would be forced to come to the table before they would take effect and hammer out another, longer-term deal to responsibly get the government's fiscal house in order.

So far, that has not happened, and these very real, very harmful cuts are set to start January 1, 2013. Reductions, totaling approximately $100 billion in next year's federal budget, are expected to hit defense and domestic programs that are vital for national security and families' economic security and advancement. What's more, these cuts will have a disproportionate effect on the lowest-income families, those who have already experienced the worst impacts of the economic downturn and for whom a middle-class existence is being pushed further and further out of reach.

To avert those devastating impacts and come up with a fair solution, Congress could take action and enact a balanced package of spending reductions and increased tax revenues.

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