Some policy makers believe the impact of sequestration is overblown.
They say that where you stand depends on where you sit. And if you are sitting in a lab supported by federal funds, working with students who are supported by federal funds, eating food that's been inspected with federal funds and riding home on a transit system that's maintained with federal funds, you may well be concerned about the impact of sequestration on your life and work. If you don't do any of those things, or believe the cuts are too small to have any catastrophic effect, you may be unconcerned. It is true of course that the real impact of the cuts will roll out over time, so on this first Monday of sequestration, things for most people are much the same as last Thursday. Some policy makers have accused President Obama and many Democrats of rampant "Chicken Little-ism."
Still, another date of doom is on the horizon, and having done as much as possible to raise the alarm about the impact of March 1, the president and congressional leaders are laying the groundwork for a deal to fund the government through Sept. 30. The good news, if there is any, is that the congressional appropriators have more of a central role in this part of March Madness. The appropriators for the most part understand government programs and compromise, and are eager to reclaim their primacy through the recommencement of "regular order." That means passing all the bills on time. The stakes for the Continuing Resolution negotiations that will now take over congressional energies for the next three weeks are high. No deal means the government shuts down. We at the blog are reasonably sure nobody wants this, although we believed that about sequestration, too, for a while.
You may be wondering if there is anything you can still do to call attention to the impact of sequestration, now that the latest deadline is knocking it off the front pages. We suggest:
- Kicking it up a notch. Instead of writing another letter, go visit your members of Congress at town hall meetings or appearances in the home district, and make your case in person.
- If your lab can offer good "visuals," invite your representative and her/his staff over to see your work and hear more about it.
- Get together with others who are feeling the impact, in other scientific departments and plan joint action.
- Write a letter to the editor or Op-ed for your local paper.
APA can help with good advice about these and other ideas. Contact Pat Kobor if you have questions.