Insisting that Idaho faces cuts to the most basic of services—including public health, safety and education—the Obama White House warned Feb. 24 that unless the U.S. Congress acts by Friday, March 1, to avoid a sequester, a series of automatic federal spending cuts, "vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform" will be threatened.
While Democratic and Republican congressional leadership are expected this week to continue playing a high-stakes game of economic chicken, President Barack Obama warned that the gamblit—if not fixed by March 1—will default to cuts totalling $120 billion.
According to the White House, if the sequester kicks in, Idaho impacts (for the current year) might include:
- a loss of $2.9 million in funds for education for children with disabilites
- elimination of Head Start and Early Head Start services for approximately 200 children
- a furlough of approximately 2,000 civilian Department of Defense employees
- a loss of $82,000 in Justice Assistance Grants
- a reduction of approximately $61,000 for vaccination funding
- a loss of $340,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse
- a loss of $202,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors
- a loss of $1.2 million in environmental funding to ensure clear water and air quality
- a loss of $857,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection
Meanhwhile, governors from both parties took to the nation's airwaves on Sunday morning network news programs to warn that the sequester would damage all concerned, no matter who scored political points through the debate that is expected to play out in the coming week.