Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 | 2:04 a.m.
Washington is all aghast about the automatic spending cuts known in our nation’s capital as the “sequester.” As House Speaker John Boehner recently described it, the sequester is “like taking a meat-ax to our government and its many programs, and will mean weakening our national defense.” Yet, despite this reality, House Republican leadership recessed Congress this month for a nine-day break without considering all alternatives to avert the impending crisis by the March 1 deadline.
While I always enjoy meeting with my constituents, Congress should have been in session. We should be working together to find a balanced approach to offset these devastating cuts.
The independent and nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that sequestration would cut economic growth in 2013 by half and cause potentially 750,000 to 1.4 million job losses nationally. Another study by George Mason University projects a loss of 2.14 million American jobs if sequestration takes effect. The analysis shows that “nearly half of all sequestration job losses would come from small businesses.”
These drastic, indiscriminate, across-the-board, cuts will damage our fragile economy and jeopardize the safety and security of families across the country. But what does it really mean for a state like Nevada? Over the last week I have met with constituents including teachers, seniors, business owners and medical providers to understand how these cuts would affect them. Consider these impacts:
• More than 1,400 furloughs to civilian jobs at Nellis and Creech Air Force bases, resulting in $11 million in lost wages.
• A 10 percent decrease in funding to Nevada Title I schools, nearly $9 million. Additionally, the state’s budget for special education grants would be slashed by $4 million.
• Upwards of 10,000 jobs lost at a time when too many Nevadans are already looking for work.
• A decrease in tourism, an engine of our local economy, because of fewer available airport personnel.
• Less funding for our colleges and universities, which hampers our ability to diversify our economy by jeopardizing $16 million in grant funding.
To date, Senate and House Democrats have offered fair, balanced plans to avert these damaging cuts. These proposals are built on responsible spending cuts, increased revenues, and growth with jobs.
Constituents have told me loud and clear that it is time for Congress to come together and work across party lines to solve these problems. We need a balanced plan.
According to a new USA Today/Pew Research Poll, the American people agree that Congress needs to come back to Washington with a solution to the sequester. In fact, 3 out of 4 Americans surveyed said Congress should focus on a balanced approach to the deficit with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
With every passing day, thousands of jobs are at risk, the security of middle class families hangs in the balance, and the safety of neighborhoods across the state of Nevada are in jeopardy. Our nation’s economy cannot afford any further uncertainty, obstruction and delay. Too much is at stake.
Rep. Steven Horsford represents Nevada’s 4th Congressional District.