Sequester tough on Pa. jobs, Casey says
Last Modified: February 26. 2013 12:23AM
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said Monday that the indiscriminate cuts that would come if the sequester happens wouldn't make sense in an American household and they don't make sense for the American economy.
Casey, D-Scranton, held a teleconference to release figures on how sequestration would affect Pennsylvania. The second-term senator said it's time for Democrats and Republicans to show the bipartisanship the American public wants to see.
The sequester deadline is Friday. It would implement across-the-board budget cuts to many federal programs over the next 10 years, totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years because Congress did not take action to reduce the U.S. national debt.
The cuts will apply equally to defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
Casey detailed the potential job losses that could occur if the sequester takes effect and called on Congress to come together on commonsense steps to avoid it.
“Leading economists have warned of the massive impact the sequester will have on our economy,” Casey said. “Allowing these indiscriminate cuts to wreak havoc is inexcusable when there is an alternative. The American people deserve a balanced and reasonable approach that will protect middle-class families and create jobs.”
Casey said most households have to make tough but smart decisions about finances.
“Republicans and Democrats need to come together in a responsible way that will cut spending, sustain the economy and protect the middle class,” he said. “Having sequester go into effect is simply a bad idea.”
Casey said Congress has to protect middle-income families. He said the overall impact on jobs would be devastating: 39,941 in Department of Defense cuts in Pennsylvania and 38,513 non-defense jobs lost for a total of 78,454.
Casey said Gov. Tom Corbett was in Washington on Monday, but he had not had a chance to meet with him to discuss the sequestration.
“I know a lot of governors of both political parties are speaking with one voice,” Casey said. “We need Republicans and Democrats everywhere to get together and avoid this in a reasonable and responsible way.”
Casey said Democrats have had a proposal on the table for 10 days, but so far Republicans have not offered much response.
“Our proposal avoids the short-term problem,” he said. “Then we have to sit down and work out a bipartisan long-term solution to put us on a responsible fiscal path.”
Casey said now is not the time for pointing fingers and blaming each other.
“We need to first look in the mirror,” he said. “We can all do more; however, there are some who are 24-hour partisan warriors.”
Casey said he can't validate any underlying premise that the sequester should be allowed to go into effect. He said the best way to reduce spending is to do it with a systematic plan. Casey said he always wants to express optimism, but with the Democratic proposal on the table for more than a week with no GOP response dims his hope for a resolution.
Casey said the Democrats' plan calls for $55 billion in cuts and the generation of $55 billion in new revenue largely through tax reform. He said the proposed cuts would be balanced.
“If the other side has something better or dramatically different, I'd like to see it,” he said. “But so far, I haven't seen anything.”
Casey said seven days remain to reach a compromise — more than enough time, he said.
“Our economic recovery is not moving fast enough,” he said. “I'm hearing from my constituents that they are frustrated and they are concerned about jobs and the economy. The fact is we don't have enough Democrats and Republicans who want to work together to get things done.”
Casey outlined how the sequester would have an impact across the state:
- Overall impact on jobs: Pennsylvania job losses due to non-Department of Defense cuts: 38,513; total job losses due to sequestration: 78,454.
- Military furloughs: Approximately 26,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by about $150.1 million in total.
- Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $7 million in Pennsylvania.
- Job-search assistance: Pennsylvania would lose about $866,000 in funding for job-search assistance, referral and placement, meaning about 36,860 fewer people would get the help and skills they need to find employment.
- Teachers: Pennsylvania would lose approximately $26.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting about 360 teacher and aide jobs at risk. About 29,000 fewer students would be served, and approximately 90 fewer schools would receive funding.
- Work-study jobs: About 3,160 fewer low-income students in Pennsylvania would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and about 2,290 fewer students would get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
- Medical research and innovation: The National Institutes of Health is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world. Across-the-board budget cuts would mean that reduced NIH award funding would impede medical research and cost 1,209 jobs.
- ·$13.9 million less for scientific research in Pennsylvania: Under the across-the-board cuts forced by sequestration, at approximate 2012 award allotment levels Pennsylvania would lose roughly $13.9 million in funding from the National Science Foundation, resulting in fewer awards to support job-creating research into new scientific breakthroughs.
- Housing and community development: The Community Development Block Grant — $8.7 million less in funding. The Housing Choice Vouchers program — 3,961 fewer families would get support.