Nearly 4 in 10 Americans say they have been affected by automatic spending cuts known in Washington-speak as sequestration, according to a poll out on Friday that was done for ABC News and The Washington Post. Most Americans disapprove of the cuts in programs in programs ranging from Head Start for children to Meals on Wheels for seniors.
The cuts are happening because Congress wouldn’t pass a budget that brings down deficits while closing loopholes that let one in four profitable corporations avoid paying any U.S. income tax. Sen. Bernie Sanders voted against sequestration.
Also because of the spending cuts, three of the largest federal agencies were closed on Friday. Furloughs affected 115,000 employees, 5 percent of the federal workforce, at the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Office of Management and Budget also made people take an unpaid day off.
Taking a closer look at just one group affected by the cuts, sequestration for seniors means a $40 million reduction in meals programs, including a $10 million cut to home-delivered meals. It’s estimated that 17 million meals will be lost due to sequestration.
Ironically, the cuts won’t save money. Sequestering $10 million from Meals On Wheels will lead to increased Medicaid spending of $489 million a year, according to the Center for Effective Government.
Sequestration also will mean that 6,400 fewer unemployed low-income older adults will get hired.
An estimated 485,000 seniors are losing access to health promotion and disease prevention services, which help them manage chronic conditions, improve health and wellness, and prevent falls.
About 2 million seniors won’t be able to get rides to see their doctors or go grocery shopping and 1.5 million people will lose personal care services such as in-home assistance with bathing, toileting and dressing.