The Sequester Is a Terrible Idea. Let’s Try Something Else.

Friday is the day that sequestration cuts begin to take effect. Whether it affects your job directly or not, these cuts are going to hit communities hard—undermining schools, roads, air traffic control, food safety, law enforcement and services that fill the basic needs of low-income families. Tens of thousands of people would lose housing assistance, mental health care and food assistance, and an estimated 700,000 jobs would be lost.

We’re already going through austerity—in the past few years, we’ve shed hundreds of thousands of public jobs. More austerity through sequestration is going to put more drag on our economy for no real positive effect.

In a new statement, the AFL-CIO Executive Council makes it clear: sequestration is profoundly bad for our economy, totally unnecessary and easily averted.

The solution is to disarm the hostage takers so they no longer can hold the economy hostage to get their way…There is no economic need to replace “sequestration” or meet any arbitrary deficit reduction target. Further fiscal austerity before the United States returns to full employment only would weaken the economy and cost jobs. If the “sequester” is to be replaced, it should be replaced in a way that minimizes drag on the economy.

All of these ransom demands are wildly unpopular, which is why Republican leaders keep manufacturing crises to get their way.

This week, the U.S. Senate will vote on a bill that would defer sequestration while also implementing some long-overdue tax changes. These changes include the Buffett Rule, which would set a minimum tax rate for very-high-income people who bring in $1 million or more every year, and the end of a loophole that allows companies to deduct costs associated with shipping jobs overseas. It’s ridiculous that, with unemployment still too high, we keep giving corporations a tax incentive to send jobs elsewhere. It needs to end, and that would be a big, positive change.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has also released a plan that halts the sequester cuts and implements some smart new changes to the tax code—closing loopholes that primarily benefit the very wealthy.

Last year, House Republicans voted to pass a “substitute” to the sequester that is even worse than the blunt cuts contained in the sequester: it would apply bigger, sharper cuts to food aid for low-income families and public health funding. House Republican leaders acknowledge they might not be able to pass this bill in this Congress.

A recent survey by Business Insider suggests that people much prefer implementing the above-mentioned Senate plan or the Congressional Progressive Caucus plan instead of the sequester (or the House Republican plan).

Whatever Congress chooses to do, it’s important to say this loud and clear: the sequester is a pointless, destructive exercise, and we need to prevent it. We couldn’t agree more with Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley—a Working America member!—when he points out the sequester’s effects on jobs and public services are “a D.C.-created distaster in the making”:

We need to end the sequestration, and once and for all stop lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis…spare Americans from a politician-induced recession.