Sept. 21, 2012
White House: Sequestration Is Bad Policy: The White House last week issued a 394-page report detailing the cuts to government programs if sequestration – automatic across the board cuts in both defense and non-defense expenses – were to take place. The administration warned that the cuts would be deeply destructive to national security and core government functions and are not a responsible way to reduce the deficit. Congress last August agreed to sequestration after they were unable to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years.
“Sequestration is a blunt and indiscriminate instrument,” the White House said. “It is not the responsible way for our nation to achieve deficit reduction.”
AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said sequestration will devastate government programs and services to the American people. He urges lawmakers to work toward a plan to avert sequestration and to resist calls to exploit the crisis by making cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or federal retirement. Sequestration is completely avoidable. If the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy 2% are allowed to return to the Clinton rates, almost $1 trillion would be raised, eliminating the need for sequestration altogether. If it was not for these irresponsible tax cuts, this $1 trillion hole would not even exist.
“These cuts would mean hiring freezes, furloughs and staffing reductions at the Border Patrol, Bureau of Prisons, Transportation Security Administration and other agencies that keep America safe,” NP Cox said. “The Defense Department would see delays in new equipment and facility investments, cutbacks in equipment repairs and reductions in base services for military families. The USDAs ability to inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne illnesses would be compromised, as would the EPAs ability to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. Critical housing programs and food assistance for low-income families would be cut.”
The following are estimates of the 2013 across-the-board cuts by agency. Exempt from sequestration are funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, the CIA, military personnel, and most mandatory domestic spending such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Click here to view the entire report.
Defense Department: $54.66 billion
Department of Veterans Affairs: Exempt
Capitol Police: $28 million
Food Safety and Inspection Service: $87 million
Forest Service: $431 million
Department of Commerce: $44 million
Bureau of the Census: $79 million
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $413 million
Department of Education: $4.1 billion
Department of Energy: $2.4 billion
Department of Health and Human Services: $15.4 billion
National Institutes of Health: $2.5 billion
Food and Drug Administration: $319 million
Department of Homeland Security: $105 million
Citizenship and Immigration Services: $205 million
Transportation Security Administration: $643 million
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center: $23 million
Immigration and Customs Enforcement: $478 million
Customs and Border Protection: $955 million
United States Coast Guard: $566 million
Federal Emergency Management Agency: $957 million
Department of Housing and Urban Development: $3.6 billion
Department of the Interior: $1.3 billion
Department of Justice: $1.2 billion
FBI: $742 million
Federal Prison System: $549 million
Department of Labor: $2.2 billion
Department of State: $2.6 billion
Department of Transportation: $2.2 billion
Department of the Treasury: $1.8 billion
Corps of Engineers: $622 million
Environmental Protection Agency: $716 million
General Services Administration: $22 million
NASA: $1.4 billion
National Science Foundation: $586 million
Office of Personnel Management: $15 million
Small Business Administration: $75 million
Social Security Administration: $467 million
District of Columbia: $35 million
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: $30 million
Nuclear Regulatory Commission: $86 million
House Approves Bills to Avoid Defense Cuts Only: The House of Representatives has approved several bills that would protect only the Defense Department from sequestration while keeping these automatic cuts for the remainder of the government. The latest one passed by the House last week was introduced by Rep. Allen West of Florida that would replace the defense cuts with even deeper cuts to other agencies’ programs. The Senate is not expected to take up the bill and the White House is likely to veto it.
Anti-Worker Heritage Foundation’s Latest Attempt to Trash Government Employees: The corporate-funded Heritage Foundation has continued to make up lies about government workers and skew data to mislead the public. This week it released new propaganda saying government employees work three hours less per week and one month less per year than their private-sector counterparts when vacation and other paid leave is taken into account. AFGE National President J. David Cox said Heritage’s latest propaganda is another attempt to manipulate data in order to pit the American people against government workers.
“The differences Heritage cite evaporate if one adjusts for firm size and length of service – the two most important factors determining hours of work and paid time off,” NP Cox said. “From VA nurses providing around-the-clock care for our nation’s veterans to EPA workers ensuring the safety of the air we breathe and the water we drink, public sector employees serve the American public. Government should function as a model employer, attracting and retaining the best and brightest to provide the services we rely on every day. The reality is that so many private, non-union employers provide absolutely no paid time off. No sick leave, no vacation, no holidays. That is the disgrace, not the fact that public sector employers recognize that all workers need some paid time off in order to maintain a work/life balance. All workers, public and private, should be entitled to decent and fair working conditions. The Heritage Foundation’s attempt to mislead the public and denigrate the work of public employees is all part of their campaign to dismantle vital government services. We must celebrate the work performed by public and private sector employees with the understanding that work connects us all.”
Judge Strikes Down Anti-Union Law in Wisconsin: A Dane County Circuit Court judge last week struck down a law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that took away nearly all collective bargaining rights for most public workers. Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law violates the state and federal constitutions. By capping union workers’ raises but not those of non-unionized counterparts, the law infringed on workers’ rights to associate with another freely and to be treated the same way under the law.
The provisions “single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions,” the judge wrote.
The anti-worker law, signed in March last year, prohibited collective bargaining on all issues except cost-of-living salary increases, which could not exceed the inflation rate, currently at 1.7 percent. Other issues such as pensions, health benefits, and workplace safety were off limits. Walker’s attorney said the state would appeal the ruling.
New Report Exposes ALEC’s Extensive Privatization Agenda to Help Corporations Take over Government Functions: From prison privatization to virtual public schools to Medicaid privatization, the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has its hands in state and local governments’ decisions to outsource public functions and services. According to a new report by In the Public Interest, “Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets,” more than 300 corporations pay $7,000-$25,000 a year to be ALEC members and gain access to legislators, many of whom are ALEC members who advance corporate interests at the expense of the taxpayers. Florida’s Council on Efficient State Government Act, for example, was passed at ALEC’s recommendation to establish a council with private sector members to review the state’s privatization opportunities. Similar bills have been introduced in 13 other states. In 2011, Ohio became the first state to sell a correctional facility after an ALEC-backed bill passed to allow companies to purchase state correctional facilities. Utah in 1999 passed an ALEC-backed bill that allowed the government to contract with companies to maintain and build correctional facilities.
“ALEC is more than just an organization that convenes meetings and develops model legislation,” the report says. “It is a major player in a long and steady movement toward private control of public structures…ALEC and its corporate members have been peddling ideas and proposals to influential lawmakers that would make it easier to privatize a wide array of government functions, increase corporate influence in important public policy decisions, and grow corporations’ bottom line.”
This Week in Labor History: Sept. 17, 2011 - The Occupy Wall Street movement is launched with an anti-Wall Street march and demonstration that ended up as a two-month encampment in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. The even led to protests and movements around the world, with their focus on economic inequality, corruption, greed and the influence on government of monied interests. Their slogan: “We are the 99%.”
This Week’s Op-ed: Bloomberg columnist Peter Orszag argues that if Medicare is privatized, about 20 percent of doctors would likely drop Medicare patients.
“Doctors see Medicare patients, despite the relatively low payments they receive for doing so, partly because Medicare represents such a large share of the health-care market. If a substantial number of beneficiaries moved out of Medicare and into private plans, doctors would have much less incentive to see Medicare patients…The evidence suggests that, in time, this problem could well affect a large share of Medicare beneficiaries…[A]bout 20 percent of doctors would be expected to stop accepting Medicare patients.”
Orszag is vice chairman of corporate and investment banking at Citigroup and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was a director of the Office of Management and Budget.
This Week’s Tweet: “We are born with nothing and we die with nothing but our student loans” ~ @BorowitzReport
Hot on YouTube: The U.S. Naval Academy’s ‘Gangnam Style’
Quote of the Week
AFGE National President J. David Cox on the impact of sequestration:
“These cuts would mean hiring freezes, furloughs and staffing reductions at the Border Patrol, Bureau of Prisons, Transportation Security Administration and other agencies that keep America safe. The Defense Department would see delays in new equipment and facility investments, cutbacks in equipment repairs and reductions in base services for military families. The USDAs ability to inspect food processing plants and prevent foodborne illnesses would be compromised, as would the EPAs ability to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe. Critical housing programs and food assistance for low-income families would be cut.”