- 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:
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bink, MsSpentyouth, Eyesbright, gpoutney, blueoregon, BeninSC, RisingSign, Betty Pinson, cocinero, Wolf10, Azazello, Mathazar, jacey, JayRaye, OldSoldier99
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