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Political Focus:

Sequestration: A self-inflicted crisis

Congress and the White House are currently embroiled in the most recent of their many public displays of dysfunction – the battle over sequestration, across the board spending cuts that will take effect March 1, if specific debt reduction measures are not established.

In fact, as far as the federal budget is concerned, they have been following one crisis with another for longer than the political memory of the average voter can reach.

These politicians have gone from dept ceiling to fiscal cliff to threatened shut down of the government back to dept ceiling again, and they don’t appear to be solving any of these crises. In fact, they are creating new ones.

Sequestration, the threat of federal funding cuts, is a perfect example of these self-inflicted crises. It was part of a carrot and stick approach to motivate Congress to come up with a deficit reduction plan and was the centerpiece of the resolution to the debt ceiling crisis of 2011.

Avoiding sequestration was the carrot for Congress to achieve debt reduction and sequestration itself was the stick. The 2011 committee that was charged with finding a way to reduce that deficit failed to reach a deal so the cuts are scheduled to take effect.

The problem with this approach is that the deficit itself should be enough of a motivator. Punitive measures taken in order to scare up a solution failed to get the job done and only hurt every day people.

If the Congress fails to establish debt reduction measures, every federal program is scheduled to be cut by sequestration including social safety nets and public safety. Economists say that this can drive us back into a recession.

These cuts would be felt at UCC in the form of budget cuts to the Transfer Opportunity Program, part of a five percent cut to TRiO programs nationwide.

TRiO sent an e-mail last week to students and staff asking them to contact their Congress members. The e-mail pointed out that the cuts were equal in value to TOP’s tutoring program which provides one on one tutoring for TOP students.