Skip to main content

The effects of austerity are all around us—at this point, it's defining and dragging down our economy—but a lot of the time, the news doesn't report on austerity's effects on working people. Pundits and politicians scream most loudly about the deficit, not about the need to invest in jobs and infrastructure. And with sequestration being the major austerity policy debate happening now, we still hear most about how it's affecting those at the top. This week was a case in point.
  • Defense furloughs were the week's big sequester story, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the furloughs, which were initially expected to be for as much as 22 days and then had been cut to 14 days, would be cut again, to 11 days, with more civilian defense workers exempted than had been expected. The good news in this story is that that means a lot of civilian defense workers won't be taking as big a hit to their pay. The bad news is that 11 days without pay is still a big hit, and the defense furloughs bring the number of federal workers losing days of pay to 820,000. And the fact that the DoD got the opportunity to make changes and reduce planned furloughs, while many other agencies hit by the sequester didn't, points out how unevenly applied austerity is.
  • The uneven application of austerity came even more into focus with this round of whining from the CEO of Lockheed Martin about how she doesn't know how much of a hit her company's billions of dollars in profits will take because of sequestration. To be fair, lower profits for defense contractors could mean layoffs—but that does not exactly come across as the CEO's chief concern. Surprising, I know.
  • Speaking of layoffs, unemployed people keep facing bad news above and beyond the simple fact of being jobless. Nationally, Meteor Blades tells us, less than 40 percent of unemployed people are getting benefits, and federal benefits have been hit by cuts thanks to sequestration. Republican state legislators seem never to stop looking for ways to make joblessness more miserable, too. Mark E Andersen highlights a proposal in Wisconsin to double the job searching people have to do to qualify for unemployment benefits, as if looking harder will help when the jobs aren't being created.
  • Unemployment also isn't helped by situations like this: Only one in six kids eligible for childcare subsidies actually get those subsidies, thanks to chronic underfunding of the program. With so many more people trying to get into the program than are covered, the low-income, unemployed, or student parents whose kids should qualify for subsidized childcare have to jump through endless hoops to get and keep the aid, often being forced to miss work in order to get the childcare support that makes it possible for them to go to work at all. Republicans say they want people to work, but when it comes to making it possible for them to do so, somehow the response is always more austerity. And, yes, the sequester has cut Head Start programs as well.
  • Since these cuts and underfunded programs come because Republicans refuse to raise revenue, let's close with a little reframing of the whole tax vs. spending debate:

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri May 17, 2013 at 12:11 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site