A Pittance

Core message: 750,000 jobs lost is not “a pittance.”

How powerful leaders treat ordinary people says a lot about their values and priorities. Sure, the sequester’s no big deal if you’re a politician who only cares about donors who write the next campaign check — instead of your constituents living paycheck to paycheck.

Unfortunately, Republican leaders in Congress like Sen. McConnell are dismissing the sequester as “modest” while others like Sen. Paul call it “a pittance.” House Republicans are even cheering on the cuts as a “big victory.” But here’s what the massive cuts they’re calling a “pittance” mean to ordinary people. It means 750,000 jobs lost this year alone. It means lower sales for business owners who’ll find it harder to move their goods. It means fewer teachers at public schools.

People might say ““We should cut $45 billion in unspent money at the agencies to pay down the debt.” But we know that:

  • We’re talking about investments in America’s home front and the drivers of our economy — like our schools, infrastructure, and research. Let’s keep in mind that people at the agencies are trying to keep our country running with shrinking agency budgets and shrinking staff.
  • Where there’s funding that ends up not being needed after all, like when a contractor no-shows, that money already gets rooted out and taken back anyway.
  • Nearly all of the money carried over in agency account balances from year to year are needed this year and in the future, like to finish multi-year projects and pay late bills.
People might say, ““Democrats in Congress rejected the GOP plans to avoid the sequester or to at least give the President flexibility to implement the cuts.” But we know that:
  • Flexibility on the  sequester is like saying you should cut off three fingers but you get to decide which fingers.
  • Congressional Republicans’ idea of doing something about the sequester was to replace its job-killing spending cuts with job-killing spending cuts — and force the President to implement them so he’ll take all the blame for the problem they created.
  • Republicans in Congress are responsible for the sequester they refuse to fix. They only agreed to withdraw their default crisis threats and not tank the global economy if they got the sequester that we’re facing today. They voted for the deal and celebrated it.
  • Even if they don’t come clean, the American people already see right through them — by a 20 point margin, Americans believe that the sequester is the Congressional Republicans’ fault.
  • It’s almost as if these Republicans in Congress think regular Americans deserve these things to happen — the massive cuts to our home front investments they’ve been pushing for all along.

 People might say, “The deficit is out of control.” But we know that:

  • The federal budget deficit is actually getting smaller. It’s projected to hit a five-year low this year.
  • The best way to fix the deficit is to put Americans back to work and have the wealthy pay their fair share — but Republicans in Congress refuse to do both.
  • In America, the European-style austerity they’ve already inflicted on us is dragging down economic growth — which makes the deficit they supposedly care about harder to deal with

The bottom line is this: Working parents, seniors, children, small business owners will pay the price once again so Republicans in Congress can keep millionaires from paying the same tax rate as their secretaries. Do we really want “I’ve got mine and the rest of you are on your own” to be the governing vision for America? We need leaders who know America works best when it works for everyone.

For more information, see the full Message Matters memo here.


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