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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
American Legion ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Annexation for fire services will be on November ballot (May 25, 2016)
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts to honor fallen heroes (May 25, 2016)
Camino Real plans Open House events (May 25, 2016)
Chief Hull resigns from Poth police (May 25, 2016)
County sets sights on new tax (May 25, 2016)
Court Update (May 25, 2016)
Editorial: Grim choices have put America in a grave situation (May 25, 2016)
Editorial: On the other side of politics in a world of digital divide (May 25, 2016)
Fire, EMS services — Who’s got you covered? (May 25, 2016)
It’s okay to take control (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Free ride over hard work … a no-brainer! (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Housing Foundation expresses gratitude (May 25, 2016)
Letter: Mainstream media ‘brainwashing’ Hispanic/Latino voters (May 25, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Memorial Hospital District (May 25, 2016)
Memorial Day office closures (May 25, 2016)
One viewpoint: Making Floresville marketable with recreational facilities (May 25, 2016)
Parish plans Cemetery Ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Police arrest man in case of burned body (May 25, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 25, 2016)
Police ticket six for violating cell phone ban (May 25, 2016)
Post 539 service (May 25, 2016)
Poth electric vehicle users could be in for a 'shock' (May 25, 2016)
Poth High School students earn awards (May 25, 2016)
Severe storms shred Wilson County (May 25, 2016)
SSCA ceremony (May 25, 2016)
Teacher salaries, student lunch prices on the rise (May 25, 2016)
Tejano music to fill the air during Labor Day event (May 25, 2016)
Turner: New businesses coming to Floresville (May 25, 2016)
Berger earns Ph.D. from Columbia University (May 18, 2016)
Brahma Happenings (May 18, 2016)
Burning body spurs murder investigation (May 18, 2016)
Can I negotiate? (May 18, 2016)
Court Update (May 18, 2016)
Editorial: Narrow views promote intellectual, moral dry rot (May 18, 2016)
Editorial: The political climate in America goes from bad to worse (May 18, 2016)
Falls City ISD’s new K-12 building almost complete (May 18, 2016)
Floresville parks master plan would relocate ball fields (May 18, 2016)
Floresville parks plan wins council approval (May 18, 2016)
Foundation awards $9K in grants (May 18, 2016)
Foundation opens health grant process (May 18, 2016)
Graco recalls booster seats (May 18, 2016)
Grass fires on the rise (May 18, 2016)
Letter: An open letter to Congress (May 18, 2016)
Letter: Illegal immigration: Who will laugh last? (May 18, 2016)
Letter: What Hispanic vote? (May 18, 2016)
Lone Star Greys to meet (May 18, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia City Council (May 18, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Poth ISD (May 18, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 18, 2016)
Police recover one of two stolen trucks (May 18, 2016)
Register for free watercolor lesson (May 18, 2016)
Stockdale campus to get upgrade soon (May 18, 2016)
Stockdale City Council approves electronic payment processing (May 18, 2016)
TAMU-SA matches student scholarships (May 18, 2016)
Time to make plans to attend Jubilee (May 18, 2016)
Want fire protection? Attend May 19 hearing (May 18, 2016)
Acme Gold Buyers marks fifth year in Floresville (May 11, 2016)
All Veterans Job Fair (May 11, 2016)
Cemetery group to meet (May 11, 2016)
Children’s Alliance enhances care services (May 11, 2016)
China Grove mayor, police chief trade barbs at meeting (May 11, 2016)
Commissioners lukewarm toward hot coffee at library (May 11, 2016)
Competency and integrity (May 11, 2016)
Court Update (May 11, 2016)
Coy to get Ranger Cross (May 11, 2016)
Cub Scout Roundup (May 11, 2016)
Donate blood in May (May 11, 2016)
Editor: Trump’s candidacy sets in motion affliction in future elections (May 11, 2016)
Editorial: The voters have spoken — well, some of them have! (May 11, 2016)
Former Sutherland Springs VFD considered as a substation (May 11, 2016)
Free caregivers class starts May 26 (May 11, 2016)
Information sought in Walmart theft (May 11, 2016)
Lack of super majority vote keeps Clean Water Rule flowing (May 11, 2016)
Leetter: The government is a terrible investor (May 11, 2016)
Letter: Injection well site is near river, creeks (May 11, 2016)
Letter: Stop being negative (May 11, 2016)
LV youths win new wheels at Bike Rodeo (May 11, 2016)
Meeting Watch: La Vernia ISD (May 11, 2016)
Mineral rights workshop set (May 11, 2016)
Miss LV Pageant, Bluebonnet Parade, graduation fill La Vernia calendar (May 11, 2016)
New Wilson County justice center nears completion (May 11, 2016)
Personalized brick for Veterans Memorial (May 11, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 11, 2016)
Precinct 3 primary runoff is May 24 (May 11, 2016)
Rangers to honor Lorenz (May 11, 2016)
Rohrs takes over Floresville athletics (May 11, 2016)
Tanneberger qualifies for Executive Club membership (May 11, 2016)
Voters respond: One bond passes, another fails (May 11, 2016)
Wednesday morning crash injures nine (May 11, 2016)
AACOG plans public meeting (May 4, 2016)
Accident injures two drivers (May 4, 2016)
AgriLife offers tips to protect from Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (May 4, 2016)
Behind the lens: Solitary stillness (May 4, 2016)
Celebration Mass June 12 (May 4, 2016)
Cemetery association meeting (May 4, 2016)
Condos are fine, but do your research (May 4, 2016)
Court Update (May 4, 2016)
Crime Stoppers aids police anonymously (May 4, 2016)
DA, DPS bust nets 86 charges (May 4, 2016)
Debate over citizens comments dominates Floresville council (May 4, 2016)
Dwellings At Home offers lodge, ranch furnishings, more (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Overbearing city council threatens boards’ independence (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Taking personal responsibility will bring possibilities (May 4, 2016)
Editorial: Trump is the same old song with one more verse (May 4, 2016)
FEDC tables recommendation of master parks plan (May 4, 2016)
FELPS tornado repair continues as FEMA help stalls (May 4, 2016)
Floresville Chamber Luncheon May 18 (May 4, 2016)
Hall of Fame inductees: Joe Kotwig, Malcolm and Beverly Talley (May 4, 2016)
Letter: Alamo Colleges: A bust for Floresville (May 4, 2016)
Local nursing homes plan Senior Olympics May 9-13 (May 4, 2016)
Look twice for motorcycle riders (May 4, 2016)
Lyssy’s vault earns gold, sets records! (May 4, 2016)
Medicaid, CHIP application assistance (May 4, 2016)
Meeting Watch: Wilson County Commissioners Court (May 4, 2016)
National Day of Prayer May 5 (May 4, 2016)
Police Blotter (May 4, 2016)
Ramirez promoted to colonel (May 4, 2016)
Reserve a seat for SA Tea Party (May 4, 2016)
Tanneberger tops in sales (May 4, 2016)
Treviño prepares to take reins of East Central athletics (May 4, 2016)