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How Sequestration Gets Worse in 2014

Sequestration is already a disaster for the American people. Four key factors will make it even worse next year.

Potholes are visible on a farming back road in Tulare, California. (AP/Gary Kazanjian)
Potholes are visible on a farming back road in Tulare, California. (AP/Gary Kazanjian)

See also: 4 Ways Sequestration Gets Worse Next Year by Harry Stein

“It is like a slowly growing cancer.” That is how Steven Warren of the University of Kansas described the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as “sequestration” to Sam Stein of The Huffington Post. Sequestration took effect eight months ago, and it has already been a disaster for the American people. Two of the worst sequester cuts took Head Start preschools and services away from 57,000 children and scuttled groundbreaking scientific research. Sequestration also eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. And things will only get worse.

There are four factors making next year’s sequester even more damaging than this year’s. First, and most simply, the sequester makes larger cuts in 2014 than it did in 2013. Second, many of the cuts that were legally made this year have not actually been implemented yet. Third, one-time fixes that mitigated sequestration’s worst impacts in 2013 cannot be used again next year. Fourth, sequestration made cuts to little-noticed but critical functions of government—cuts that will be particularly devastating if they are not reversed soon.

If sequestration is allowed to continue through all of fiscal year 2014, which began on October 1, 2013, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, estimates that 800,000 more jobs will be lost. Another year of sequestration would reduce economic growth by 0.6 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP. The key pillars of American prosperity and security would come apart as sequestration hollows out education, research, infrastructure, public safety, and national defense. In short, we cannot afford another year of sequestration.

Harry Stein is the Associate Director for Fiscal Policy at the Center for American Progress.

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Harry Stein

Director, Fiscal Policy