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The Sequester: Shenanigans or Serious Business?

Few people in metro Atlanta know what to expect if the sequester happens. Will you or somebody you know be affected if federal budget cuts kick in?


If the federal government imposes the $85 billion "sequester" cuts, which could go into effect Friday night, the changes may not be immediately apparent for many metro Atlanta residents.

Many of the departments and agencies likely to be affected, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are themselves unsure how they would be affected.

"It is not clear how individual field offices will be impacted by the implementation of the sequester," said Stephen Emmett, spokesman for the FBI's Atlanta field office.

Politico reports that the Atlanta-based disease detectives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could see their funding cut, hampering their ability to mobilize if there is a public health crisis.

CDC Director Tom Frieden told POLITICO:

“It would impact every CDC program. It would make us less able to find and stop outbreaks.”

Federal funds flow to state health departments, but Georgia health officials said it's too soon to say how services to the public would be affected.

"If sequestration does occur, which and to what extent programs will be impacted is not clear," said Georgia Department of Public Health spokeswoman Nancy Nydam.

Atlanta's Universities could lose funds to help low-income students. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators  has offered estimates on how much could be at stake in lost opportunity grants and work-study funds for students:

  • Emory: 151,348
  • Georgia Tech: $121,523
  • Georgia State: $74,228
  • Ogelthorpe: $5,871
  • Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta University would not face any loss of funds, according to the report.

And nearby, hundreds of workers at the Lockheed Martin plant in Marietta could face layoffs if the cuts kick in, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.

Most federal parks in metro Atlanta are expected to remain open. A White House report released on Sunday said "many of the 398 national parks across the country would be partially or fully closed" but that isn't expected to happen immediately.

Rudy Evenson, spokesman for the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, said sequestration would affect summer hires for the park service.

What's your take on the sequester? Do you or somebody you know work at a federal agency or contractor? Are you making plans for a possible pay cut? Or do you think this is all a lot of political grand-standing?

Phil Knatterly March 02, 2013 at 03:39 PM
The long term answer to America's fiscal woes is renegotiating the benefits that my generation (born in 1970) and those younger have been promised over the next 75 years. The medium term answer is to move back toward solving local problems with local solutions and getting the federal government out of those roles that local government or the private sector should be doing. The short term answer--unless the Senate is able to pass an alternative like the House has (the Senate failed twice again yesterday)--is to follow through on this 2.4% across-the-board reduction. No, it isn't enough. Yes, in some cases it will be hard. No, we still can't look our children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them that we have done all that we could to preserve America's freedom and opportunity for them. Yes, I will continue to work at it—achieving as much each and every day as we can—until we can look those children in the eye and tell them with confidence that we are passing America along to them even stronger than we received it. Together, we will succeed. As always, if your family is facing any particular challenges with or questions about the sequester, please contact me. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you. Sincerely, Image removed by sender. Signature Rob Woodall Member of Congress P.S. Please sign-up for my e-newsletter if you’d like to stay informed about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and around the 7th District.
Phil Knatterly March 02, 2013 at 03:44 PM
The ONLY way we are going to resolve the issues we face as a Nation, is as a Nation together. Griping about free phones, while perhaps a legitimate beef, is so small a part of the issue. Eddie has a point about unfunded wars as a large part of our new debt. The current Administration supports a dysfunctional Senate, as Rep. Woodall states. Many to blam, but unless YOU quit wasting time belly-arching on blogs and get involved with the 250 year old process, YOU become a part of the problem, avoiding any solution. BOTH Parties got us to where we are - Don't ever forget that.
Phil Knatterly March 02, 2013 at 03:50 PM
@Jerome Law and Order is critical, but we are fast becoming willful pawns to the Prison Industrial Complex with drug laws for non-violent offenders warehousing the wrong people. Georgia is attempting to correct this situation by changing certain mandatory sentencing laws for non-violent offenders, look for other measures. We can save billions by treating drug abuse as a medical issue and NOT a criminal issue, unless violence is involved. Had not seen Smart Ass White Boy (SAWB) in awhile, LOL. There's a whole generation that prolly has no idea what SAWB meant....
Stephen W. Ramsden March 02, 2013 at 04:06 PM
just a note again about reality... Fully two-thirds of the national debt is owed to the U.S. government, American investors and future retirees, through the Social Security Trust Fund and pension plans for civil service workers and military personnel. China, it turns out, holds less than 8 percent of the money our government has borrowed over the years. and this from BS Mountian Faux News Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/04/who-do-owe-most-that-16-trillion-to-hint-it-isnt-china/#ixzz2MOnNC0vL
Stephen W. Ramsden March 02, 2013 at 04:06 PM
just a note again about reality... Fully two-thirds of the national debt is owed to the U.S. government, American investors and future retirees, through the Social Security Trust Fund and pension plans for civil service workers and military personnel. China, it turns out, holds less than 8 percent of the money our government has borrowed over the years. and this from BS Mountian Faux News Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/09/04/who-do-owe-most-that-16-trillion-to-hint-it-isnt-china/#ixzz2MOnNC0vL
Phil Knatterly March 02, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Your point is correct the US owns most of it's T-Bills and other outstanding debt. What does that mean? Our mountain of debt is approaching an event horizon, whereby our debt service will become equal to our total income (GDP). What happens if we allow default on ourselves? Think Black Hole of worldwide Depression. Scarily both sides realize this as a solution (I am not making this up.) This Dr. Strangelove solution would mean that all Federal monies owed to Social Security, Aid for Dependent Families, Medicare/caid, all the largest Federal programs (entitlement, though that word has a negative image) would have to STOP. Both the Neo-Cons and folks on extreme Left talk about this event as if it is a good thing. Starting over. When? 2018-2024. Do the math.
Eddie E. March 02, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Phil, This does not answer the simple question about how we make up for 12 years of lost revenue (a result of very ill-advised tax cuts), two unfunded wars and I neglected to mention, the clean-up required as a result of Gramm-Leach-Blilay (the repeal of Glass-Steagall and the inevitable financial crisis that followed). Yes spending reductions are obviously necessary. These reductions should start with a 60% cut in military expenditures, especially procurement of pointless weapons systems that do not address any current or predicted threat. However, we cannot 'cut' our way into success when the enormous expenses languish in the face of record 'profits' at the top of the pyramid. The function of the United States productive citizenry is not to ensure a protected, permanent concatenation of untaxed wealth. Priming the pump to set aside the debt from which they 'profited' is clearly called for. It is comforting that rep. woodall did not blather on about the mis-named 'fair tax' as a remedy to this catastrophe. I guess even he has come to accept the idea as a failure.
Phil Knatterly March 02, 2013 at 06:40 PM
The Peter Peterson Foundation offers several views on both taxes and spending on their website. The Foundation seeks to educate Americans about the issues we face, so that we can do OUR job - That is, communicate with lawmakers. http://www.pgpf.org/Issues/Fiscal-Outlook/2013/02/020813-CBO-February-2013-Report.aspx A lot of information, this policy issue is complex in it's content and breadth, not easily 'sound-biteable." I do not believe rhetoric such as "balancing the budget on the backs of the middle-class and poor' is helpful, nor is "tax the rich." As in most things in life, balance is critical. We cannot simply cut defense and leave social programs, as they are - And taxing one segment of society (the rich) without closing IRS loopholes, specious credits, and other tax schemes is unbalanced. Pure 'supply-side' Capitalism led to the idiotic decisions, i.e.Repeal of Glass-Steagall at the end of the Great Greed Cycle, post-Reagan. Our financial future depends on overcoming factors such as, political shenanigans, public apathy, poor understanding of the issues, and inability of voters to communicate with their Reps. Factors such as 'puddin' sticks,' i.e. talk show doofii, non-news, and other noise, create enough confusion to keep real solutions from surfacing. The rich will always land with their feet on the ground. The middle class will get pummeled, and the poor - Well, little will change for them, their reality is bleak either way.
Jeff Thompson March 02, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Eddie, you realize that raising taxes does not necessarily raise revenues, right? History shows the opposite effect in many cases.
Eddie E. March 03, 2013 at 02:20 AM
Jeff T, IF your suggestion were true, the Government would be rolling in money, as the inverse of your suggestion would have occurred (which 'supply side' predicts, yet has never occurred in a continuous fashion). Cutting taxes didn't supply the needed revenue, but HIGHER taxes from 1993-2000 DID. Let's go back to what worked. And to Mr. Knatterly, pete peterson is a one man debt panic industry. He has been so wrong for so long he doesn't have any other way to turn. Please, if we are going to refer to 'experts' let's pick some with a winning track record.
Jeff Thompson March 03, 2013 at 05:16 AM
I suggest you check your history. There were times in which lowered tax rates raised government revenue. This is undisputed.
Phil Knatterly March 03, 2013 at 11:47 AM
Eddie calls out hugely successful American philanthropist. I never researched Peter G. Peterson until I read you comment, Eddie. Thanks for helping us understand this man is one of the most successful Capitalists in the World, and a huge philanthropist. "In 2011 Peterson contributed $458 million of his own personal wealth to cast Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and various safety net programs that aid the poor as in a state of crisis and in desperate need of dramatic cuts." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_George_Peterson Typical Liberal BS, Eddie, call great people names and denigrate them, because they are successful and their politics reflect practical methods to save the Country from financial chaos. Why do you hate America, Eddie?
NBF March 03, 2013 at 02:57 PM
So many of your homes were purchased under Federal Grants in Midtown for pennies with No Taxes or forgiveness after 5yrs! Today those homes are 200k to 1.5M that's a lot of loss Tax money for Atlanta.
Eddie E. March 03, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Jeff, I don't dispute that the ray-gun tax cuts caused revenue to exceed expenditures, briefly, for about 35 days, before the curves diverged and the ray-gun deficits came to color the budget for the following 6 years. What has not occurred is an situation in which tax cuts created continuous, long term improvements in overall revenue.
LessGov March 03, 2013 at 04:51 PM
ms. directed & others, i dont think any one wants the progragm defunded that have to do with medical issues or helping with HIV suddies. The issue is that goverment has been on a speending freenze in all areas. One only has to see the explosive expantions of goverment areas like the CDC complex on clifton over the last 10 years. For folks like my self saw the CDC stay the same for years with marginal growth and expantion. The CDC has a lot of other studies like think groups for social behaivior, and how it affects others. Some of these can be down sized. The cuts will come down to the CDC director and it will be up to that person to figure out where the cuts will be, That what we pay that person for. Some of these social studies should be priviate funded with no tax money.
Jeff Thompson March 03, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Eddie, Check the JFK tax reductions and resulting increase in revenues.
Eddie E. March 03, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Phil, What a classic wrong wing fallback! Let's see, pete peterson, founder of Blackstone Group. Why would he so hate the most successful American safety net program? Because it works and it denies those successfully sequestered funds from the likes of Blackstone! Back in 2003, mr. peterson had the ear of the shrub administration and there was a strong push to 'privatize' Social Security. Just think of how bad the 'shrub depression' would have been had the retirement savings of the ENTIRE COUNTRY been WIPED OUT along with the imaginary housing wealth? We are lucky that there are learned economists working to protect the vital retirement income of the average American, lest the likes of peterson turn that income into more 'profit' for his industry and 'loss' for the Citizens!
Eddie E. March 03, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Phil, And if I hated America, I would be working to steal from the weakest among us, not help protect the assets we all need, collectively, to survive.
Eddie E. March 03, 2013 at 06:10 PM
Jeff, If we ever approach the marginal tax rates that were in place when the (probably necessary) JFK cuts occurred again, then that comparison will be in order. In any case, that was a one time event and would require a cut from similarly HIGH marginal rates to have similar effect. We ain't anywhere near that level of taxation any more.
Eddie E. March 03, 2013 at 06:12 PM
Phil, And to return to my original question, how would mr. peterson get back the 12 years of missing revenue?
Norman Rogers March 03, 2013 at 11:16 PM
Hey Eddie! How do you go FROM Peterson GIVING $458MILLION of his own money to social programs TO Peterson HATING the same programs? If SS was privatized, those invested would face risk-based losses like everyone else. Most everyone has recovered from losses with a Dow topping 14,000 NOW. Man, you are one seriously out-of-touch hombre'. I hope you are better at being a mechanic than you are student of economics or even finance. Like Phil said, BOTH Parties got us to where we are today, it will take both Parties together to get us out.
jimmie March 03, 2013 at 11:32 PM
No, I want HIV research defunded. If something has got to go, why not research into a disease caused mainly by self-destructive behavior..
jimmie March 03, 2013 at 11:40 PM
Lech Walesa (sp?) rules! Gay members of Polish Parliament should sit behind a wall! YEaahhhhh!
Rob March 04, 2013 at 12:25 AM
Lech Walesa is a HERO! A man not afraid to stand for God`s law!!!
Eddie E. March 04, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Norman, Reread phil's post and then google to find out where peterson put his 458 million. It wasn't in direct aid to 'social programs', it was to fund his various efforts to privatize Social Security. Yes the DOW has rebounded (or re-bubbled). That would not have helped anyone at or near the end of life from 2007-2012 would it? Get back to me at the end of April. While on this subject, what real value modification in the products and services represented in the DOW (or S&P) have increased in value concurrent with their outrageous current PtoE? Retirement income through Social Security was not intended to be a gamble, it was intended to be a Guarantee. 'Fixing' what ails Social Security and Medicare is simple, eliminate the 'cap' on 941 payroll taxes (or at the very least raise it to the first 350k of earnings). An inflation index attached when ray-gun last raised it would have a value of approximately 350k today.
Norman Rogers March 04, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Eddie, Instead of RAISING the SS tax up to $350K, how about making the SS available to workers after 60 or 80 quarter (15 to 20 years of work), instead of only 40 quarters or ten years. Who only works for 10 years, then collects for the rest of their life? Interesting point on Peterson, I don't have time to investigate that. The Peterson website is a wealth of non-political information. The idea of privatizing SS should be an option left up to each worker. Guarantee plans (traditional SS) would pay out less than a newly defined risk-based plan, at the option of each worker...
Norman Rogers March 04, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Eddie, What about the current Administrations proposal to offer workers an optional benefit guarantee paid by mandating a portion of portfolio assets toward US notes? I'll say this, BOTH sides just LIE. This plan is being falsely labelled as "Gov't to seize 401K Plans," a durn lie. http://www.factcheck.org/2008/11/iras-401ks-and-you/
Eddie E. March 04, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Norman, Identify 5 people who receive full benefit after 40 quarters. I didn't think you could. I understand you have a different, ideologically driven view of the world. I am simply attempting to demonstrate we have attempted forming policy around the ideology you are approaching and we have ample evidence of it's failure. Civilization has it's costs and revenue needs to be returned to the levels that have PROVEN to work.
Norman Rogers March 04, 2013 at 01:46 PM
I appreciate your point of view, Eddie. Unless BOTH sides can figure a way to resolve issues of National importance, together, as we have for over 250 years, we are destined to fail. What has taken 30-50 years to occur, will take time to undo. Personally, I know it is possible, but I think something REALLY BAD will have to happen before real change happens. Read "Shock Doctrine," and realize that the government will be prepared to step in... I would like to avoid that scenario, please and thank you. The great American Experiment will not fail, if we can delve past the sound-bites and seek rational solutions to our mutual problems. History will judge US policy during the past thirty years as wasteful, indulgent, marked by an unprecedented greed cycle exploited by our leaders in industry and government. "We will stand together or hang separately," comes to mind.
Norman Rogers March 04, 2013 at 01:52 PM
I know several dual-citizenship families that have worked here ten years, get SS, and now have left the US. WAKE UP, Eddie, people come to the US and use us. The ONE fundamental FACT about any government - IT GROWS. Revenue will never keep up with spending. Fool's folly to believe otherwise. Both Parties have a hand in YOUR wallet. The GOP spends on 'Guns' the Dems on 'Butter.' This debate started with Ike, then Kennedy, and was decided by Johnson. We have be going down the path ever since, fueled by BOTH Parties. Without Guns there is no Butter, without Butter who needs Guns....

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