Washington, D.C. is preparing for another economic showdown with enormous implications. Sequestration – a schmancy word for government spending cuts – is commencing in less than a week, unless Congress and President Obama can secure a deal that will circumvent the disaster.

Congress passed a compromise law in 2011 that would force automatic budget cuts in 2013 unless Capitol Hill officials and POTUS could reach an agreement that would reduce $4 trillion of the deficit, according to the White House. These cuts would continue through 2021 and total $1.2 trillion. Sequestration is full of unappealing cuts designed to bring Democrats and Republicans to the table to prevent them. Both parties have reduced the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion over the past two years; but the full proposed amount hasn’t been reached, so some of the sequester is scheduled to roll on March 1.

Here’s a visual representation of sequestration from the White House.



If sequestration proceeds, the impact will be immediate. We will recognize it in airports with less Transportation Security Administration agents and numerous canceled and delayed flights. We will see it when government employees are sent home waiting for a deal to be passed. We will understand sequestration when unemployment makes a massive leap from 8 percent to the double digits. We will feel it when our income taxes are returned much later than expected.

Though the impact of sequestration will impact most Americans, the Pew Research Center found that 40 percent think the cuts should proceed if President Obama and Congress can’t reach on an effective deficit reduction agreement. That percentage may include women and other minorities, but these consequences may shift their perspective:

  • The Friends of Maternal and Child Health Coalition, a group of national and state organizations that support national maternal and child health policies, reports that sequestration will eliminate almost $1 billion in federal funding for women and children. It will remove more than $400 million from Head Start, forcing 70,000 minority children out of the program.
  • Title I funding, which services disadvantaged students and low-income schools, would face $726 million in cuts according to the Center for American Progress. These slashes would impact 2,700 schools and more than 9,000 teachers.
  • The Friends of MCH Coalition also found that a program that provides breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women would be cut by $8 million. This could mean more than 31,000 fewer cancer screenings for uninsured and underinsured women.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or WIC, is also included in these budget slashes. The program would lose $543 million in funding, causing 600,000 participants to risk a reduction or total removal of benefits. If this happens, women of color would be disproportionately impacted, since 450,000 of us receive WIC according to the Friends of MCH Coalition.
  • Long-term unemployment benefits are also on the chopping block. The long-term unemployed, classified as those who have been without work for more than six months, could lose almost 10 percent of their weekly jobless benefits according to the Center for American Progress. Again, these cuts have a deeper impact on minority communities, since 13.8 percent of blacks are unemployed.
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which helped about 23 million low-income people this winter, is also in danger of losing funding.

Combine this with the impact that sequestration will have on individual states and their workforces and the results are catastrophic. Americans will suffer if Congress and President Obama can’t reach an effective agreement. Federal budget cuts, which impact state and local public-sector jobs, are instant. Since African-Americans comprise 20 percent of this workforce, the impact will be felt in homes throughout the United States.

The sequestration is another war waging in D.C. that has real-life consequences.

For further information and an interactive map detailing the impact of sequestration on each state, click here.

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  • Anthony

    Sequestration will be a bear for a whole lot of black people since so many of us work for the Federal Government. Both my wife, my sister, and one of my in laws works for the federal government or has a job that receives federal funding.

  • Gina

    This is scary.

    • kelly

      Yes it is but people need to relise that a lot of this stems form all the non citizens liberal states take care off. What do you think going to happen when you offer services to billions of non citizens, and start having bilingual preschool and other services. All those thing cost money. And heavy chunk off that bill should be sent to mexico. I live near the border and I see it everyday, its a mess.

    • SL

      Actually, I think this resulted from waging 2 long lasting wars at the same time. Those wars were costing us Billions of dollars per month- right with a B. at one time I joked with my husband – we both are Federal contractors – that they were printing money night and day down at the Bureau.

  • kelly

    Well all I can say is here in CA i see a lot of illegal using services. I’m located near the border and CA has open the gates with bilingual preschool and etc, Our states let them attend public school and etc. A few years ago it was relase that L.A spent a billion in wic on non citizen, these things add up. I think if we had more states like AZ we probably wouldn’t be this broke, but the truth is Mexico cost us a lot of money ever year and until our gov starting looking at that, were always going to be broke. The service our in danger now because your funding people that dont put into the system.

    • Kay

      They may use these services but those services are just a small part of the entire federal budget. Besides that, we make tons of money off the labor of illegal citizens. Corporations make billions by undercutting American workers and encouraging illegal citizens to work for pennies on the dollar, then blocking legislation that would help them to become legal citizens. If they are citizens, they would have certain protections under the law, not so if they are illegal.

    • kelly

      Yes & NO, but jobs in construction, ship yards, docking and etc arent low paying jobs. And the U.S isn’t making money if these people arent putting money back into the system, like i said they a part of that debt.

    • The US has a trade agreement with Mexico (north American free trade agreement). They are the top purchaser of US exports along with Canada. Not sure whether there’s any correlation to your comment, but I’m pointing out financial ties.

  • This is a good piece. Well written. Sounds like a mess we should all be interested in. Consequences for black women and our familes will be dire if it isn’t sorted out. I would like to think the powers that be will do all they can to avert such a disaster.

  • SL

    I am concerned – very concerned. My husband and I are Federal contractors – just like many of our neighbors – our household depends on the income we earn through Federal contracts. Contractors are far more vulnerable than Federal employees so yeah, it gives us pause.