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April 18, 2013

Letter: Sequester cuts targeting our most vulnerable

To the editor:

Back in August of 2011, when the term “sequester” first entered our collective vocabulary and consciousness, we were assured we had nothing to fear from it because the consequences of the sequester becoming reality were so dire that no thinking politician, Democrat or Republican, would allow it to happen.

Reasonable Republicans and Democrats alike thought the possibility of such dire consequences becoming reality would result in cooler heads prevailing and some reasonable compromises being reached.

They were mistaken.

Mainstream Republicans and the party leadership, terrified of primary challenges from the extreme right if they compromised with the president and congressional Democrats on taxes and spending, decided to allow the sequester to kick in and then mounted a media campaign to try to convince us it would have a minimal impact.

Many of the sequester’s long-term negative impacts have not been felt immediately since it became reality last month. But already, the sequester has resulted in hefty funding cuts to veterans’ college education programs. The sequester has all but eliminated the education trust fund that was established for the children of U.S. servicemen and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the domestic front, sequester-mandated cuts to early childhood education programs like Head Start will result in tens of thousands of eligible, low-income children around the country being denied access to those proven programs.

Federal funding for programs that assist HIV positive people in accessing their life sustaining medications is in serious jeopardy due to cuts that are looming as a result of the sequester. HIV positive people who cannot afford to pay privately for their medications, and given the annual price tag for those life sustaining meds, very few people can, could well die as a result of cuts imposed by the sequester in the coming months.

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