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Tick Tock: Kids Stand to Lose Billions on March 1

Child Rights
Early Childhood
Education
Poverty & Family Economics
Tax Policy

In just 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds, kids stand to lose billions in the sequester. Intended to be a deadline of arbitrary and unacceptable cuts that would force lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to a compromise in ongoing budget negotiations, the cuts are being used in a game of chicken with devastating consequences for the nation’s most precious resource – our children.

The sequester will cut $85 billion from the federal budget in fiscal year 2013 alone. And while the cuts will be shared between defense and domestic investments, not all cuts are created equal. In an article in today’s BusinessWeek, Heidi Przybyla puts a young human face on the budget cuts:

“The human toll of sequestration on women and children may be most vivid. Most entitlement programs for the elderly, mainly Social Security and Medicare, are protected because they are considered mandatory. Spending programs affecting women and children are at risk because they are classified as discretionary and are funded annually.”

This means that in just 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds, our kids will be cut by a whopping $4.2 billion. These cuts seriously threaten many aspects of a child’s life – the safe roof over her head, the education that promises an equal opportunity at success, the nutrition and healthcare she needs to grow strong, and the safe environment she needs to thrive:

The cuts will force 70,000 young children out of Head Start.
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The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants, and Children (commonly referred to as WIC) will cut about 600,000 participants.
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Nearly 296,000 fewer special education students will receive services from IDEA grants.
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More than 3,000 children will no longer be protected from lead poisoning in their homes.
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About 180,000 families will lose access to affordable housing, and could end up homeless.
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What does it say about our country’s priorities that we have come within 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds away from severely harming our children? Already, one in four U.S. kids live in poverty, and the recession has left about one in ten impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Cutting our kids simply doesn’t make sense. As Ronald Brownstein explains in the National Journal:

“[T]he way policymakers achieve balance has profound generational implications too—and the sequester would continue a pattern in which the costs of fiscal adjustment are excessively imposed on the young.”

The right thing to do is hold kids harmless in the budget negotiations. Join the First Focus Campaign for Children in reminding lawmakers of this and that the clock is running out on our kids. Share the tweets above, or write your own using the hashtags #InvestInKids and #TickTock. And contact your Congressional representatives directly using this tool to say, “Don’t Cut Kids!”.

Because in just 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds, lawmakers may throw our kids over the cliff. Tick tock.