This isn’t how the threat of sequestration was supposed to shake out. The idea was presented to the president last August as a bluff with no downside, a surefire strategy to force Republicans in Congress into accepting more tax increases on the wealthy. But now that the reality of massive spending cuts — not only to the military but to “essential government services” — looms, the administration finds itself between a Barack and a hard place.
That is why Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan was dispatched to a Congressional hearing last Thursday on the sequester portion of the Budget Control Act of 2012, where he grimly announced:
Cuts to our office of healthy homes and lead hazard control and related programs would result in more than 3,000 of the most vulnerable children not being protected from lead poisoning or other hazards in their homes.
Donovan was one of several members of the president’s cabinet to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee. All were on hand to detail the damage that would be done if the law were permitted to take effect. And unless preemptory action is taken, the sequester will kick in on March 1, imposing automatic spending cuts in the federal budget.
Donovan also warned that the cuts, if triggered, would affect “125,000 individuals and families, more than half of whom are elderly or disabled, losing assistance provided through the Housing Choice Voucher Program and becoming at risk of homelessness.”
One wonders if the president now regrets affixing his signature on Aug. 2, 2012 to the law that opens this Pandora’s box.