Sequestration has not just been an utter failure for Washington Democrats, it has highlighted the political invisibility of low-income Americans.
Among the most recent consequences of sequestration in Morgan County was the loss of two Head Start classrooms, leaving 28 pre-kindergarten children without the education, health screenings and meals that come with the successful program.
They are among 70,000 children nationwide to lose access to the program. Their parents will suffer, too. Many have jobs that don’t pay enough for private child care.
Head Start helps children born in poverty overcome the significant academic handicaps that otherwise leave them behind in kindergarten. For many, the gap widens with every year of schooling.
Sequestration was a blunt fiscal knife designed to be so bad it would force Congress to pass a responsible budget. It passed only to keep House Republicans from blocking an increase in the federal debt ceiling, a move that would have caused the government to default on obligations to which Congress had already committed.
Rather than react to the pressure of sequestration by coming up with the responsible package of cuts and revenue increases needed to reduce the deficit, Congress has reduced the sting of sequestration by making various amendments. Cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration were inconvenient to members of Congress and their frequent-flyer friends, so they were the first to end. Congress also is softening cuts to the National Weather Service and to the Defense Department.
The sequestration cuts that are getting no political attention are those, like Head Start, that benefit the poor. The bipartisan support for softening sequestration pain has not extended to those with the greatest need.
Sequestration has become a symbol of governmental failure. It is a consequence of House members that were willing to sink the U.S. economy to advance ideological goals. Rather than avoid sequestration by passing a responsible budget, Congress has whittled away at those parts that cause them the most political problems.
Sadly, the families of 28 children in the Head Start programs at West Morgan Elementary and Cotaco School are politically irrelevant.