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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
Appraisal district board votes to resume construction (April 27, 2016)
Baylor University awards Cody Soto (April 27, 2016)
Behind the lens: Swan lake (April 27, 2016)
Budget Blinds of La Vernia receives national award (April 27, 2016)
Celebrate hospital’s Grand Opening (April 27, 2016)
Children’s Alliance plans ribbon-cutting (April 27, 2016)
County judge breaks tie vote (April 27, 2016)
Court Update (April 27, 2016)
Cowboy Fellowship celebrates 13 years in Jourdanton (April 27, 2016)
Earth Day plant sale April 30 (April 27, 2016)
Editorial: It’s time to get out and vote for the best for our city (April 27, 2016)
Editorial: Quit whining and play by the party rules (April 27, 2016)
Emergency-services area may expand to cover City View (April 27, 2016)
Floresville chamber is on the move (April 27, 2016)
Floresville Event Center’s no-BYOB policy here to stay (April 27, 2016)
Floresville man honored with service award (April 27, 2016)
Free ‘Shred Day’ in San Antonio (April 27, 2016)
Get outside and connect with nature (April 27, 2016)
Help CASA during the Big Give (April 27, 2016)
Hospital receives audit report, notes record month (April 27, 2016)
La Vernia EMS: Four decades of care (April 27, 2016)
Learn about hosting a foreign exchange student (April 27, 2016)
Letter: Anyone listening? (April 27, 2016)
Letter: Clarity around FEDC contributions (April 27, 2016)
Letter: Unreliable weather forecasts (April 27, 2016)
Life Line Screening available (April 27, 2016)
Loan converts to a scholarship (April 27, 2016)
Master Gardener orientation (April 27, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Falls City ISD (April 27, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Floresville Planning & Zoning Commission (April 27, 2016)
Parks plan is still ‘wish list’ (April 27, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 27, 2016)
Ramirez promoted to Colonel (April 27, 2016)
Scammers target CPS Energy customers (April 27, 2016)
Support children through Big Give (April 27, 2016)
ACTS skeet shoot May 7 in Marion (April 20, 2016)
Annexation for La Vernia EMS? (April 20, 2016)
Brahma Happenings: Jackson’s Journey, HOPE fund-raisers, more (April 20, 2016)
Challenger Water Solutions set to close deal in Stockdale (April 20, 2016)
Coach to take on athletics for his alma mater (April 20, 2016)
Community Resource Fair (April 20, 2016)
Crisis Center plans fund-raising events (April 20, 2016)
District 3 considers substation in Sutherland Springs (April 20, 2016)
Early voting begins on Tuesday in (another) election (April 20, 2016)
Editorial: The ‘voice of the people’ fallacy (April 20, 2016)
Elmendorf wades into developing its own municipal water system (April 20, 2016)
Emergency service, via helicopter (April 20, 2016)
Entertainment lineup for the Jubilee (April 20, 2016)
FEDC OKs July 3 ‘Freedom Fest’ (April 20, 2016)
Floresville parks plan: an analysis (April 20, 2016)
Hail pounds ‘like a thousand hammers' (April 20, 2016)
Housing seminar set (April 20, 2016)
La Vernia: New home for Wilson County’s performing arts? (April 20, 2016)
Letter: A word of caution to advertisers (April 20, 2016)
Letter: Eating sustainably (April 20, 2016)
Letter: Obama’s executive ‘lawlessness’ rears its ugly head (April 20, 2016)
Letter: Wilson County lacks animal control (April 20, 2016)
Meet the Floresville candidates, ask questions April 21! (April 20, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Poth ISD (April 20, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Stockdale ISD (April 20, 2016)
Missions to include Floresville’s Rancho (April 20, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 20, 2016)
Poth VFW Post 8555 honors students, teachers, guests (April 20, 2016)
Small-business training webinars (April 20, 2016)
Special meeting April 21 for Floresville parks master plan (April 20, 2016)
Talk about boundaries (April 20, 2016)
Walk to end child abuse (April 20, 2016)
Wilson County’s unemployment rises (April 20, 2016)
Yanta: Prosper the work of our hands (April 20, 2016)
Apply now for Baptist Health Foundation community grants (April 13, 2016)
Authorities arrest cattle rustler (April 13, 2016)
Behind the lens: Screams, spins, speed (April 13, 2016)
Christian counseling comes to Wilson County (April 13, 2016)
Doctor will close Floresville office (April 13, 2016)
Editorial: Before you reject the system, understand it (April 13, 2016)
Editorial: Football great Will Smith and mental illness in America (April 13, 2016)
Editorial: White House needs a mature president — not ‘The Donald’ (April 13, 2016)
Federal funding for community projects (April 13, 2016)
Free senior exercise classes at OKMH (April 13, 2016)
Kicaster Cemetery meeting April 21 (April 13, 2016)
La Vernia UMC to hold blood drive (April 13, 2016)
Letter: Extra effort (April 13, 2016)
Letter: The importance of no Supreme Court hearing (April 13, 2016)
Mayor recaps infrastructure projects (April 13, 2016)
Meeting Watch: China Grove City Council (April 13, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia ISD (April 13, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Commissioners Court (April 13, 2016)
National Lineman Appreciation Day (April 13, 2016)
Pair face felony charges for graffiti on Enchanted Rock (April 13, 2016)
Pair lead police on high-speed chase (April 13, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 13, 2016)
Poth cemetery plans cleanup (April 13, 2016)
Pray to end child abuse on April 24 (April 13, 2016)
Rainbow Play Systems recalls trapeze rings (April 13, 2016)
Registration for Alzheimer’s, dementia care training is open (April 13, 2016)
Save the date for Bike Rodeo, Bike-A-Thon (April 13, 2016)
Scammers hijack smartphones in new ransomware scam (April 13, 2016)
Selling sentimental stuff (April 13, 2016)
Start Smart your business April 28 (April 13, 2016)
Stockdale city limits expand (April 13, 2016)
Stockdale library seeks donations (April 13, 2016)
Stockdale officials approve open carry gun ordinance (April 13, 2016)
Truck strikes man on highway (April 13, 2016)
Vets service offers online links (April 13, 2016)
Workshop energizes teachers to educate about energy (April 13, 2016)
Adventure Run set for April 16 (April 6, 2016)
Authorities search for cattle rustler (April 6, 2016)
Behind the lens: Riveting reptile (April 6, 2016)
Donate blood April 8 (April 6, 2016)
DWI crackdown targets Poteet area for weekend (April 6, 2016)
Editorial: Political parties display hypocrisy over Supreme Court nominee (April 6, 2016)
Editorial: We are window-shopping for the next president (April 6, 2016)
Falls City Council seeks partner for sewer upgrades (April 6, 2016)
FELPS addresses cost price hike as fuel costs decline (April 6, 2016)
FELPS payment scam victimizes restaurant owner (April 6, 2016)
FISD plans Wellness Fair and 5K (April 6, 2016)
Floresville plans community Independence Day celebration (April 6, 2016)
Injury accident (April 6, 2016)
Just be honest (April 6, 2016)
Learning opportunity for teachers June 6-9 (April 6, 2016)
Letter: La Vernia ideal home for YMCA (April 6, 2016)
Letter: Leave political correctness out of Jaguar name (April 6, 2016)
Letter: We are the stooges (April 6, 2016)
Little League Night in Floresville (April 6, 2016)
LV Greater Chamber plans April 6 meeting (April 6, 2016)
One-Act Play shines at District (April 6, 2016)
Online control system detects faulty switch, saves FELPS $750K (April 6, 2016)
Opry Jam Night April 7 (April 6, 2016)
Participate in Candidates’ Forum (April 6, 2016)
Police Blotter (April 6, 2016)
State test glitches heighten exam anxiety for students (April 6, 2016)
Sutherland Springs woman: Snakes alive! (April 6, 2016)