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Teetering on the edge of ‘fiscal cliff II’
In today’s tough economy, everyone has to learn to live on a budget. But what happens when the nation’s government cannot live within its means and continues to increase the federal deficit? As of Feb. 22, the outstanding public debt stood at more than $16.5 trillion; it has increased an average of $3.84 billion per day since September 2007. In 2011, the U.S. Congress faced this challenge and was unable to agree on a solution. Instead, the Budget Control Act of 2011 -- including sequestration -- was approved, and the nation heads for a second “fiscal cliff” March 1. The nation’s leaders continue to argue in Washington over expenditures. Without accord, the government may be forced to employ “sequestration” -- mandatory spending “cuts” -- to reduce spending. See “What is sequestration?” (below) for more.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a member of the House Agriculture Committee and representative of Texas District 28 -- including 90 percent of Wilson County -- took time to address sequestration Feb. 22, to outline for Wilson County News readers what could happen if these fiscal cuts are mandated.
Wilson County News: Congressman Cuellar, do you feel a deal will be made in time to avoid the government cuts proposed by March 1?
Cuellar: As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I understand that cuts need to be made in order to reduce our debt; however, Congress needs to put their differences aside and work together in a bipartisan manner to avoid any arbitrary cuts that might go into effect by the sequester.
Unfortunately, Congress tends to work crisis by crisis; therefore I remain hopeful that a deal can be reached.
WCN: If the cuts go into effect, how will Texas District 28 (or even Texas in general) be affected?
Cuellar: It is estimated that if sequestration happens, more than $85 billion in additional cuts will be made. Sequestration would mean 540,000 fewer doses of vaccines against diseases such as the flu, hepatitis, and measles. Additionally, community health centers will serve 900,000 fewer patients as a result of these cuts.
Agencies that provide law enforcement, maritime, and border security, including first responders, will also see a reduction of resources and staff.
If the sequester happens, U.S. Customs and Border Protection may need to reduce more than 7,000 officer and agents at the facilities and inspection sites, which has a great impact in my district.
In Texas alone, grants for special education could see a cut of $50.15 million affecting more than 20,000 students. Head Start programs will get a $28.6 million cut in funding, and grants to local educational agencies will be reduced by $71 million.
WCN: How severe will the ag industry be hit if sequestration becomes law? At present, two of the issues being touted by the ag industry are cuts within the new Farm Bill and reduced inspectors at the nation’s slaughter plants. (See related articles, page 3D.)
Cuellar: After the White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack suggested that the automatic budget cuts, known as the sequester, could force the government to furlough all federal meat inspectors, the food industry is arguing that such a move would violate the government’s legal obligation to keep inspectors at work.
I encourage the people to call their representatives and urge them to take action and avoid any additional cuts due to sequestration. I am committed to work with both sides of the aisle to keep programs that are essential to our students, seniors, small-business owners, and middle class.
For more on this issue, see page 8A.
What is sequestration?
“Sequestration became law as a result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, and Congress’ failure to enact a $1.2 trillion balanced deficit reduction plan.
“The law directed a bipartisan Congressional Committee to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years. The failure of the so-called ‘super committee’ to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan triggered a ‘sequester.’ To sequester means to set apart or to take something away until a debt has been repaid. ...
“In addition to sequestration, the Budget Control Act established limits or caps on overall discretionary spending over the next 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in additional budget cuts from current spending levels spread across defense and nondefense programs.
“The fiscal cliff deal, H.R. 8, known as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, altered the timing of the scheduled across-the-board budget cuts, or sequestration. Originally scheduled to impact federal spending January 2, 2013, the sequester is now scheduled to begin March 1, 2013.”
Source: National Association of Elementary School Principals -- Help Stop Sequestration
Contact your elected representatives:
•U.S. President Barack Obama, Comments: 202-456-1111; TTY/TTD: 202-456-6213; Switchboard: 202-456-1414
•U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, 202-224-2934
•U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, 202-224-5922
•U.S. Rep. District 15 Rubén Hinojosa, 202-225-2531 or fax 202-225-5688
•U.S. Rep. District 28 Henry Cuellar, 202-225-1640, 1-877-780-0028, or fax 202-225-1641
•Other U.S. representatives: dial the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, and ask for your representative.
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Section A: General News Archives
Agencies nab 7 in human-trafficking sting (February 10, 2016)
Apply now for Miss La Vernia Pageant (February 10, 2016)
Behind the lens: Hitting the trail (February 10, 2016)
BPA students advance to state (February 10, 2016)
Bud Box ends two-decade career at alternative school (February 10, 2016)
Chamber to hold monthly luncheon (February 10, 2016)
China Grove mayor, police chief clash (February 10, 2016)
Commissioners amend Kicaster-area fire coverage plan (February 10, 2016)
Court Update (February 10, 2016)
Dating and the budget (February 10, 2016)
Donate blood to save lives (February 10, 2016)
Editorial: It’s about ‘We the People’ … what will ‘we’ do? (February 10, 2016)
Editorial: National election: Iowa down, New Hampshire to go (February 10, 2016)
Firefighters plan Pancake Breakfast (February 10, 2016)
Floresville mayor to councilman: Sit down or else (February 10, 2016)
Floresville park’s erosion problems prompt action (February 10, 2016)
Free heart health screenings (February 10, 2016)
H-E-B ice cream recall (February 10, 2016)
La Vernia trustees consider $33.2M bond, approve new finance chief (February 10, 2016)
Lean meat still part of a heart-healthy diet (February 10, 2016)
Letter: House fire victim extends gratitude (February 10, 2016)
Letter: Pastors should keep out of politics, stay in church (February 10, 2016)
Letter: Unruly government needs discipline (February 10, 2016)
Letter: Writer says it’s okay to ignore the charter (February 10, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Evergreen Underground Water Conservation District (February 10, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Floresville Planning & Zoning Commission (February 10, 2016)
Meeting Watch: St. Hedwig City Council (February 10, 2016)
Oil, gas leasing workshop Feb. 22 (February 10, 2016)
One-stop tax shop? (February 10, 2016)
Petition supporters plan protest rally (February 10, 2016)
Police Blotter (February 10, 2016)
Presidents’ Day office closures (February 10, 2016)
Register for Great American Cleanup (February 10, 2016)
Save the date for ‘Hope in High Cotton’ (February 10, 2016)
Should Christians support sanctuary for illegal aliens? (February 10, 2016)
Stockdale supports apartment venture (February 10, 2016)
Things are looking up in downtown Stockdale (February 10, 2016)
‘Official oppression’ or ‘criminal trespass’? (February 10, 2016)
Agencies uncover $400K in stolen vehicles, parts (February 3, 2016)
China Grove begins vote on tax rollback (February 3, 2016)
Clock running out for Floresville recall issue (February 3, 2016)
Connally expands high-tech health care (February 3, 2016)
Council action changes boards (February 3, 2016)
Court Update (February 3, 2016)
Deputies charge Floresville spurned lover with arson (February 3, 2016)
Deputies investigate recent thefts (February 3, 2016)
Editorial: The demand for villains (February 3, 2016)
Editorial: What’s in a city charter? Is it like a … Constitution? (February 3, 2016)
Eight-liner opponents face deadline (February 3, 2016)
FELPS pools tornado damage claim with city, Floresville ISD (February 3, 2016)
Floresville USDA accountant resigns (February 3, 2016)
Free CERT disaster course (February 3, 2016)
Get a free heart health screening in Kenedy Feb. 12 (February 3, 2016)
Greater LV Chamber to meet (February 3, 2016)
H-E-B recalls cookware (February 3, 2016)
Hold on for now (February 3, 2016)
It’s all happening at Nixon-Smiley Elementary (February 3, 2016)
Kicaster area will have fire coverage (February 3, 2016)
Landfill welcomes China Grove junk (February 3, 2016)
Letter: Apple Pie author extends thanks (February 3, 2016)
Letter: Gonzales differs with writer’s conclusion (February 3, 2016)
Letter: Talamantez truly a man of the people (February 3, 2016)
Life Line Screening event set in Floresville Feb. 28 (February 3, 2016)
Mock Republican Debate Feb. 20 (February 3, 2016)
Nixon-Smiley livestock show set for March (February 3, 2016)
One dead in game-room robbery (February 3, 2016)
Pioneer Award honors Burnside (February 3, 2016)
Pirates Cove in Poth offers after-school care service (February 3, 2016)
Police Blotter (February 3, 2016)
Save the date for Lincoln Dinner (February 3, 2016)
School district cops ink deal with city, county (February 3, 2016)
Second responders to meet (February 3, 2016)
Stockdale, La Vernia units respond to back-to-back fires (February 3, 2016)
Tanneberger is top agent (February 3, 2016)
Weigh in on Loop 410 changes (February 3, 2016)
Wilson County Hermann Sons lodges meet new-member goal (February 3, 2016)
‘Loving’ heart-shaped treats are for the birds (February 3, 2016)