The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

May 2, 2013

Reality of sequester is scary enough

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The Daily Star

---- — “Scare tactics” was a phrase used frequently by President Barack Obama’s critics about the sequester. 

Obama’s warnings about the impact of the spending cuts that went into effect March 1 were pooh-poohed by some conservatives, who characterized him as the Boy Who Cried Wolf, Chicken Little and a fear-mongering liar. Some in the local area did not believe we would feel any pain. 

On The Daily Star’s website, one person commented, “Sleep well, America. There will be no such threats from the sequestration.” Another called the sequester a “joke.” 

Well, we don’t think the 32 local families that just lost their day care are laughing. And the school administrators who are trying to figure out how to trim still more money from their already-constrained budgets are probably not sleeping too well. 

“There is no capability in the general fund to absorb these cuts,” Oneonta City School Interim Superintendent David Rowley said.

But Rowley is stuck with the hand he has been dealt — just as Katrina Vega, whose 4-year-old daughter is in the Opportunities for Otsego day care program, is stuck trying to line up day care for when OFO folds the program. The money for these things, we have been told, is just not there. 

So members of Congress must have turned over quite a few couch cushions this week to find the $235 million to restore funding for air traffic controllers, whose furloughs were causing thousands of flight delays 

Of course, if you’re a member of Congress, you fly a lot. Gotta get back to the district and press the flesh, especially if it’s campaign time (which lately seems to be all the time).  

On the other hand, if you’re a member of Congress, your child probably isn’t in Head Start. And the school your children attend, if it’s a public one, can probably weather a few cuts without resorting to drastic measures. 

But around here, there isn’t a lot of fat left to trim. When cuts come down, they don’t mean that a secretary gets laid off or a middle manager takes a few furlough days. 

These cuts are deep. They’re real. They hurt. And they are no laughing matter. 

While the sky indeed did not fall on March 1, there’s no reason for Obama’s critics, or anyone else, to feel smug about what happened. We wish members of Congress felt the same urgency about Head Start, or school funding, or meals for senior citizens, that they seemed to about catching flights back home for the weekend. If they did, maybe we could get past the hyperbole and find a budget solution that both sides can agree on.