APA joins major advocacy push against sequestration

Automatic budget cuts have hit science — and other programs — hard.

When Congress mandates an across-the-board cut for everything from scientific research to national parks to special education, its impact goes far beyond numbers on a page. It's a veteran in Iowa struggling to find a stable home. It's a child in Central Point, Ore., going without Head Start and a man living with AIDS in Nashville, Tenn., who will no longer receive the care he needs.

Some 3,200 national, state and local organizations, including APA, have joined together to help give Congress the big picture: how the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration affect so many of the programs that Americans depend on. The coalition is called NDD United, because it focuses on the impact of automatic budget cuts on "non-defense discretionary" programs — scientific research, public safety, public health, education — which comprise less than one fifth of the federal budget, a proportion that continues to shrink.

That's why "Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer, and Less Secure (PDF, 12.6MB)," the new report from NDD United, is so important. "Faces of Austerity" shines a light on the people behind the programs being cut as a result of Congress's dysfunctional budgeting process. The report is the first of its kind: a comprehensive, sector-by-sector look at what's happening far from Washington noise, on the ground across the country where seniors, children and families have been devastated by national budget cuts.

The report quotes psychologist Steve Warren, vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas, from an interview he did with The Huffington Post in July. "It is like a slowly growing cancer," he said, speaking of sequestration. "It is going to do a lot of destruction over time. You are going to see people's careers end early on — assistant professors, associate professors. They will never get that grant at that critical time, and they're gone. You are going to see promising graduate students not be promising graduate students, and just leave. And it will play out over a period of many years."

The report highlights the work of people like Cheri Taylor, executive director of Pottersville (Calif.) Adult Day Services, which serves low-income clients with Alzheimer's disease or other dementia. Says Taylor, "These… programs allow people with Alzheimer's disease to remain in their homes longer and provide needed respite to their family caregivers. Any 'savings' from sequestration would pale in comparison to the added costs resulting from unnecessary hospitalizations, premature nursing home placements and greater financial and emotional strains on family caregivers."

Email or tweet the link (PDF, 12.6MB) to your member of Congress.