EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 18, 2013

Column: Bipartisanship needed to avert automatic cuts, reduce the deficit

Annie Kuster

It’s a simple statement of fact that our government needs to cut spending and reduce the deficit. The question is how, not if. But exactly how we reduce the deficit has important consequences — for the future of middle class families, the health of our economy, and the security of our country.

In a matter of weeks, a series of damaging, across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect. These automatic cuts — known in Washington as “the sequester” — were never meant to be implemented. In fact, they were designed to be so painful that just the prospect of implementing them would spur both parties to pass a more balanced plan to reduce the deficit and put our nation on a sustainable fiscal course.

Unfortunately, Congress has so far failed to produce such a deal. With a March 1 deadline looming, we now face the very real possibility that partisan gridlock and inaction will trigger a cascade of indiscriminate cuts that will hurt New Hampshire families, undermine economic growth and job creation, and threaten our national security.

The sequester would cut nearly $1 trillion from domestic programs and our national defense. With budget reductions that deep, an estimated 70,000 children would lose access to Head Start. Small business loan guarantees would be cut by $540 million. Thousands of researchers working on the frontlines of innovation could lose their jobs, stalling critical research and ceding the technological advantage to our competitors across the globe.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequestration would cut economic growth in half in 2013 and threaten 1.4 million jobs. A recent study from George Mason University projected that almost half of all job losses stemming from sequestration would come from small businesses, the engine of growth and job creation in our economy.

That same study put the potential job losses here in New Hampshire at over 6,300. At a time when high-tech manufacturers need a highly-skilled workforce, our state would lose well over 100 education jobs and more than 1,000 students would be dropped from career and technical education programs. Cuts to defense spending would also compromise the strength of our military and threaten jobs at the Pease Air National Guard Base, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and defense suppliers throughout New Hampshire.

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