Congress Recesses, Leaving Deficit Reduction Question Unanswered

This week, Congress recessed for the month, while President Obama signed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (H.R. 5872) on Tuesday. The law requires the administration to provide details within 30 days about how it would implement automatic spending cuts – as mandated under the Budget Control Act – to defense and non-defense programs.

While there is bipartisan agreement that automatic spending cuts, or “sequestration,” would be harmful and should be avoided, Democrats and Republicans disagree about alternatives to reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion. Although the majority of the conversation has focused on how sequestration would impact funding for defense, questions have also been raised about how the cuts to non-defense spending would harm the wide range of programs and services that support people and communities.

A report recently released by Senator Harkin (D-IA), entitled, “Under Threat: Sequestration’s Impact on Non-defense Jobs and Services” shines a spotlight on the potential impact that cuts to non-defense discretionary programs would have. Harkin’s report states that essential government services that directly touch every family in America– “everything from education to job training, medical research, child care, worker safety, food safety, national parks, border security and safe air travel”– would be subjected to deep arbitrary cuts if Congress fails to develop a bipartisan alternative to reduce the deficit. 

The impact would double if Congress decides to protect defense spending by increasing cuts to non-defense programs. At a time when unemployment stubbornly hovers above 8 percent, implicated non-defense discretionary investments include those that leverage Goodwill’s nationwide resources and expertise in job training and services that help people with employment barriers to find jobs.

While Goodwill is aggressively working to expand its social enterprises to generate more revenue to invest in its services, a range of government resources support Goodwill’s efforts to help people find jobs.

Click here to urge your members of Congress to protect investments that leverage Goodwill.