Source: NDD United, November 2013
Thus far, the true impact of austerity has been masked behind the numbers. You have to talk to Americans, face-to-face, if you really want to understand the effects of budget cuts. Faces of Austerity: How Budget Cuts Have Made Us Sicker, Poorer and Less Secure tells the stories of those who’ve been impacted most by Washington’s failure to preserve the programs that keep us all healthy, safe, and educated. It is the product of months of work on behalf of hundreds of organizations representing millions of Americans nationwide.
The report provides the first ever comprehensive snapshot of austerity’s impact across sectors—education, job training, public health, safety and security, housing, science, natural resources, infrastructure, and international affairs. It features more than 40 distinct stories of individuals living with federal budget cuts in 22 states, nationwide, and even overseas.
While each individual’s story is unique, there are three key lessons that emerge:
• The cuts are deeper than you think.
When it comes to sequestration, we’ve all heard politicians and pundits say, “Who can’t absorb a five percent cut?” As the stories in our report show, sequestration cuts much deeper—25, 50 and in some cases, even 100 percent—once the cuts ripple out into the community. This report will provide much needed context for ongoing budget discussions. We hope Congress and the White House will remember the faces from this report— and the faces of millions of Americans not featured here—as they work together to balance the federal budget in a more balanced and responsible way.
•The cuts are unsustainable.
Those featured in our report say they’ve been able to hold it together so far, but if the cutting continues—as is scheduled to happen if lawmakers don’t intervene—there will be real and lasting damage, including complete elimination of programs, projects, and services.
•The cuts lead to lost opportunities.
There are real opportunity costs of federal budget cuts. The eroding disease surveillance infrastructure. The antiquated weather satellites. The student turned away from a career in science. The insolvent highway trust fund, and crumbling roads and bridges. The baby who wasn’t screened for SCID because the state can’t afford it….