April 21, 2013

Federal cuts put women and children last

In forcing the sequester, House Republicans have ensured cuts to programs that fund breast and cervical cancer screenings, child-care assistance and more.


The congressional GOP, like the captain of the Titanic, put women and children first.

click image to enlarge

Staff Illustration/Michael Fisher

The Titanic's captain was trying to save people's lives. In contrast, House Republicans, having contrived the sequester -- $85 billion in federal budget cuts -- are steering straight for that iceberg. And when the economy hits it, when the sequester cuts are fully implemented, women and children will go down first.

Sure, the sequester cuts are bad for pretty much everyone. But they're especially harmful to women and their children.

Why? More women then men depend on the public services that face cuts. Making matters worse, more women than men work in the public sector, so more women than men will face furloughs or lose their jobs. 

Oh, they wrote the bill Sequester, to end the sea of red.

They said without these cuts, the debt would crush us dead.

But when the cuts were triggered, moms and kids were hurt instead.

It was sad when the deep cuts came down. 

Here in Maine, where 39 percent of the state budget comes from federal sources, cuts to programs serving women and kids will be devastating.

According to the Center for American Progress, nondefense discretionary spending cuts in Maine will equal $35 million. Across all the affected programs, the cuts average 5.3 percent of federal discretionary grants.

It was bad, so bad. It was bad, so bad.

It was bad when the deep cuts went down (to the bottom of the ...)

Mothers and aunts, little children lost their pants.

It was sad when the deep cuts came down.

Even though domestic violence comprises 40 percent of all assaults reported in Maine, crucial services for the victims of domestic violence -- underfunded to begin with -- face sequester-induced cuts.

Family Violence and Protection Services will see a budget cut of $84,395, and as a result, 20 percent of Maine's domestic violence victims (1,038 people) won't be served. Additionally, 2,538 local crisis calls won't be answered.

Columnist Bill Nemitz recently described the personal costs of sexual violence and pointed readers to sources of support ("Fugitive rapist's arrest hits many nerves," April 3). Tough luck, ladies, the phones are gonna keep on ringing.

All told, programs addressing child care and women's health will be cut by more than $500,000. Cuts to the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program will trim program rolls by 1,800. Local food banks are already stretched thin -- now they'll have even more mouths to feed.

The child care assistance program faces cuts of $415,000. So there'll be less help for low-wage working moms and no help at all for moms who want to work but can't, because at the current minimum wage, no child care is cheap enough. 

"Mom, are you still standing? Well, watch out." 

The sequester will cut $121,000 from breast and cervical cancer screening. So 480 fewer of you won't know if you've got cancer.

If you do have cancer, and it goes undetected, you'll need hugely expensive treatments. An additional $61,000 in cuts to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services mean that 1,500 fewer people (375 women and 1,125 men) won't be tested for HIV.

Too many people look at the dollars cut from various programs and say, "It's no big deal. It's only $60,000 here, $50,000 there." But look at the actual harm to actual people. Sequester could hardly be more penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Women do the lioness' share of unpaid elder care, so cutting programs that provide nutrition assistance for grandma and grandpa will make women's lives more difficult while making seniors worse off.

(Continued on page 2)

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