If Congress does not reach a compromise before Friday, Wisconsin’s national security employees and the public education system could be the target of massive federal spending cuts known as the sequester, according a White House statement released Sunday.
The effects of the sequester would furlough roughly 3,000 U.S. Departments of Defense employees, which would cut around $12.4 million of their total pay. These federal spending cuts would also take approximately $10.1 million from Wisconsin’s Education for Children with Disabilities program and $8.5 million more from primary and secondary education funding.
Additionally, the state would see more than $5 million in spending slashes to environmental programs. This would consist of $3,875,000 less funding to guarantee clean air and water, as well as a loss of $1,479,000 in fish and wildlife protection grants.
With total spending cuts at $85 billion nationwide, the impact on Wisconsin could amount to 36,000 fewer jobs in Wisconsin, according to a statement from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
The solution to avoid these sequester cuts is for Congress to raise taxes for the wealthy and special interests, CAW Executive Director Robert Kraig said in a statement.
“The best way for Congress to avoid this unnecessary and self-inflicted crisis is to find the political courage to ask the wealthy and special interests to pay their fair share,” Kraig said. “This human-made crisis literally pits corporate tax loopholes against children, seniors and our most vulnerable citizens.”
While the sequester reduces the deficit, abrupt and senseless budget cuts will not boost the nation’s economy and do not focus on the root issues of the rising debt, Mark Graul, a Republican strategist and owner of Arena Strategist LLC said in a statement.
Norsetter also expressed hopes Congress would reach consensus in time, in order to avoid the impacts such a across the board cut will make.
“We hope that Congress finds another way to approach the fiscal difficulties we find ourselves in,” Norsetter said.
In his Sequester Scorecard statement, Graul said to earn an “A” Congress and the president must create a debt plan that saves the nation at least $2.4 trillion the next decade by making social security and federal health spending more sustainable.
Many Republicans in Congress hope to reduce the federal deficit by downsizing the role of government; however, Democrat Rob Zerban — a former Kenosha County Supervisor who was defeated by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, this past fall — criticized Ryan’s ideology.
“Paul Ryan wants to cut, reduce, downsize, marginalize,” Zerban said in a statement. “And that is somehow supposed to make America great? I think America needs to grow, expand, prosper. We can do that by investing in the things that will help our economy grow and making sure that every kid in this country has the same opportunities that I had growing up.”
Zerban added he believes America should be a land of opportunity, not a country that serves only its wealthiest people.