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When the Chaos Ensues, Where Will You Be?


House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, flanked by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

The sequester is coming!

If you haven’t heard of the sequester, don't worry. You aren’t the only one. A simple definition of the sequester is automatic spending cuts from domestic and defense spending that are going to ruin the lives of almost everyone.

The defense spending cuts I can live with. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 20 percent of our budget goes toward defense. The next largest expenditures are on Social Security (20 percent), Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (21 percent).

Not only would the sequester affect many aspects of these programs, but it would also cut social-safety net programs that are 13 percent of the U.S. budget. These areas of our budget benefit federal retirees and veterans, transportation and infrastructure, education, science and medical research, non-security international and other government programs.

Here is a detailed list of some serious cuts that are going to cause chaos for the already fragile economy:

The Federal Aviation Administration would see a $619 million cut 

Causing chaos — Have you traveled by airplane lately? It is probably one of the most stressful First World experiences out there.  It's the worst being poked and prodded by TSA workers or gawked at through those sexy x-ray scanners. The cuts will add to those discomforts by leading to major flight delays, aging infrastructure (because our esteemed politicians thought it was a good idea to cut from facilities and equipment) and furloughed transportation security administrators in addition to other furloughed FAA employees.

Health services would receive massive cuts

Causing chaos — Everyone who has a desire to go into the health field needs to hear this: The sequester would cut from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, federal support of health centers and embassy security. This means that fewer people would receive needed treatments for illnesses and substance abuse, the elderly would not get nearly enough meals delivered to senior homes and there would not be enough vaccinations to prevent preventable diseases.

In other words, if there was a massive zombie outbreak and the CDC needed to research the disease and stop the outbreak of the zombie bacterium, they would not have enough money to conduct the research and even if they did figure out how to prevent the zombie bacterium, they would not have enough vaccinations for everyone, thereby dooming us to a Walking Dead-type fate.

Humanitarian aid would have to cut $2.6 billion this year

Causing chaos — This one is for all those who are considering joining the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps after they graduate. The resources that are needed in order to aid impoverished countries are going to be cut, from AIDS medication in Africa to humanitarian assistance in places like Syria.

$406 million cut from Head Start programs

Causing chaos — Head start is a pre-school education program for low-income children. This program is extremely important because it provides children with access to healthcare programs and gives poor children access to healthy meals that they may not be getting at home.

Additionally, this cut would force schools to fire 14,000 teachers. Public school teachers have already taken a hit during this economic recovery on the state level as state legislatures cut public sector jobs.

Right now the conversation in Washington is about who created the sequester. Congressional Republicans blame Obama. There's even an #obamaquester trend on Twitter. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has been talking tough in front of the media,  saying things like 'Obama doesn’t have guts to come up with cuts' or 'Obama doesn’t have a plan to replace the cuts.' The White House actually does have a plan posted on its website.

This manufactured crisis is going to be a serious blow to the economy brought to us by some of our elected officials.

Europe is the clearest indicator that these austerity measures are not going work and are going to hurt our economy. So, Mr. Speaker, we need you to get serious about the economy and stop putting on a show.

This article originally appeared in The Gavel, a student publication at Boston University that receives funding and training as a member of the Campus Progress journalism network.

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