A pile of automatic spending cuts, commonly known as the sequester, kicked in Friday, and while the impact of the $85 billion in cuts slated for this year won’t immediately be felt, the potential for damage to our fragile economy has been done.
Working-class families — like those in military communities such as Hinesville — will have their lives disrupted, and their bank accounts will take a hit. Sadly, it didn’t have to happen.
It’s a shame that government leaders on both sides of the aisle led the nation to a point where its residents have to contend with draconian budget cuts that will affect education, national-park funding and the military, just to name a few.
Instead of doing the hard work of compromise and negotiation to put the country on sound economic footing, lawmakers and President Barack Obama have taken the low road. The sequester cuts are a train wreck that should have been avoided.
Adding insult to injury, the situation also has forced the Pentagon into creating a plan that will furlough 800,000 civilians for 22 days between April 25 and Sept. 30, putting them on four-day work weeks. Rightfully so, this has prompted fears of an economic slowdown.
According to a report on CNN.com, the Pentagon’s plan would hit the hardest in Virginia, California, Maryland, Texas and, of course, Georgia, where the state stands to lose $233 million in Army-base support.
So, what does that mean for Fort Stewart, Georgia’s largest military post? Although military personnel are exempt, the pinch still will be felt far and wide in Liberty County. This move could very well do even more damage to our struggling local economy.
Contractors who work on Fort Stewart and Hunter could also suffer. Area residents won’t have as much money to spend in retail establishments, hurting local business. Those seeking medical care will be unable to afford co-pays and prescriptions, which will sting doctors’ offices and others who provide treatment.
Uncertainties about our economy already exist, but it’s not too late for lawmakers to negate the impact of this financial crisis. The nation’s elected leaders need to put trivial matters aside, hammer out a deal and pass a budget.
The American people really deserve better.
Editor’s note: As of the Courier’s press time, no deal had been reached by lawmakers in order to stop the automatic spending cuts. We acknowledge the outcome might have changed after the paper was sent to press.