California kids will miss their vaccinations. California toddlers will go without Head Start preschool. Workers will go on furlough from California military bases.
These are some of the dire consequences that President Barack Obama outlined for the state on Monday if the automatic spending cuts from the sequester bill go into effect.
“We cannot simply cut our way to prosperity, and if Republicans continue to insist on an unreasonable, cuts-only approach, California risks paying the price,” says the document. Click here or scroll to the bottom of this page to read the details).
Most Republicans say they’re willing to reach a deal — but that they draw the line at raising taxes.
The White House wasn’t only picking on California. It released similar estimates for the rest of the states. The documents are part of the president’s effort to pressure members of Congress to pass new taxes in combination with more carefully designed cuts as a way to balance the national budget.
The “California impacts” include a loss of $87.6 million in funding for K-12 education, plus another $62.9 million in funds for about 760 educators who teach children with disabilities.
California economists interviewed by KQED don’t see these cuts as disabling. Stephen Levy, director and senior economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto, told us last week that the effect would be a “small reduction” in jobs.
On KQED’s Forum on Monday, he offered an estimate. “It might shave 75,000 jobs off an expected gain of 250,000, depending on how long it goes on,” he said.
Half the blow is set to fall on the military, which might have been devastating to California a generation ago. But so many military bases have closed in the state over last 30 years that the cuts will take a much smaller bite.
The cuts won’t take effect right away, and the federal government will revisit the budget in October anyway, Levy pointed out on KQED.
In fact Californians in general don’t suck as much from the federal teat as folks in other states, David Leonhardt, Washington D.C. bureau chief for the New York Times said on the program. “States on the coasts tend to be a little less reliant on the federal government than states in the South and in the Midwest.”
Lenore Anderson, director of Californians for Safety and Justice, on the other hand, worried about the effects of the cuts on planning programs at law enforcement agencies. “Federal funding is an incredibly important source for innovation,” she said. “When you talk about eliminating that federal funding or significantly reducing it definitely has a direct impact on California communities.”
She predicted layoffs at police department up and down the state.
Similarly, Gary Falle, associate vice president for federal governmental relations at the University of California, said the cuts could be devastating to programs like Pell Grants, which help students pay for education.
And Frank Gaffney, president and CEO of the Center for Security Policy, said the sequester would hollow out the U.S. military.
Asked to reconcile these estimates with his relatively more reassuring view, Levy agreed that the cuts would certainly be painful for those directly effected, but said they just won’t deal a body blow to the state as a whole.
The sequester threat dates back to August 2011 when Democrats and Republicans were battling over the amount the federal government could legally borrow to pay its bills.
Republicans didn’t want to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to budget cuts. Democrats didn’t want to cut.
As a compromise, Congress came up with a package of cuts that would go into effect if a bipartisan committee couldn’t come up with a better deal: $850 billion would be subtracted from the budgets of dozens of federal agencies over 10 years, and half of it would come out of the military.
But the committee failed to strike a deal, which could mean the axe blows begin falling on federal departments starting on Friday.
Here is the Obama Administration’s list of California cuts: