Sequestrationby Representative Elizabeth H. Esty
Posted on 2013-02-26
ESTY. Last week, I organized leaders from across Connecticut in
small business, labor, government, health care, and social services to
hear from them about the impact of sequestration. My constituents were
pleased to also brief our House Democratic whip, Steny Hoyer, at a
roundtable in Farmington. The consequences of across-the-board cuts are
frightening to say the least. People are scared, and people are
extremely frustrated with Congress--and justifiably so.
In central and northwest Connecticut--and I know the same holds true across the country--manufacturers, small businesses, and working- and middle class families are doing things right. Having struggled through a tough economy, manufacturers like Ward Leonard in Thomaston and Marion Manufacturing in my hometown of Cheshire have been innovating and making strides.
Mr. Speaker, people are hopeful that we are finally on the verge of better days, but somehow Congress has missed every opportunity to avoid this very avoidable sequester, which would not only squander opportunities but would outright devastate our economy and hurt small businesses and families across the country.
At our roundtable, JoAnn Ryan, president of northwest Connecticut's Chamber of Commerce, said that local small business owners see ``pockets of opportunity,'' but they have ``no confidence whatsoever because of the inability of government to cooperate.'' My friend John Harrity, president of the Connecticut State Council of Machinists, put it perfectly when he said that, after all the progress our manufacturers have made, ``to lose all that momentum just defies common sense.'' That's not to mention what I heard from folks across the district about the devastating and reckless impact sequestration would have on social services, our seniors, and our children's education at every level. Let's not forget that folks in Connecticut and across the Northeast are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy and recent winter storms. Our constituents have had to wait far too long for emergency recovery funds, and they're still recovering and are trying to rebuild their lives, to rebuild their homes and their businesses.
Mr. Speaker, according to George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, sequestration will directly and indirectly cost Connecticut almost 42,000 jobs. We need to remember that this isn't just a number. It's people's livelihoods, and it's their lives.
Letting the sequester happen will hurt Head Start students and their teachers in Danbury and New Britain, seniors in Meriden who rely on Meals on Wheels for their daily nutrition, manufacturers like Ansonia Copper & Brass in Waterbury, and small businesses throughout Torrington and the northwest corner, and employees and owners who are working hard to achieve the American Dream for themselves and to bring back the American economy.
What's maybe most troubling is that there is no reason businesses and families in Connecticut, or in any State, should be facing this catastrophe. It is entirely self-inflicted and avoidable if our colleagues would let us vote on an alternative. It's the result of a reckless game of chicken. Avoiding it is actually very simple, and the lack of urgency the House GOP leadership has shown in addressing this impending deadline is astounding.
Mr. Speaker, we can and should vote to remove this self-inflicted threat. We can and should remove the sequester. We already have a balanced replacement. Representative Van Hollen's Stop the Sequester Job Loss Now Act would replace the sequester with commonsense, cost- cutting policies--repealing subsidies for Big Oil and Big Gas, refocusing subsidies for Big Agriculture and enacting a Buffett rule so that the wealthiest are paying their fair share. We should be allowed to vote on this bill.
Folks in Connecticut and across the country can't afford this gamesmanship. They need us to act. They need us to do our jobs so that they can keep doing theirs.
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