President Barack Obama has allowed sequestration to occur. America and its veterans will suffer because of it.
Last Friday, President Obama ordered sequestration into effect for the federal government. The order mandates spending cuts in defense and non-defense discretionary spending. The total amount of the cuts is stated at $85 billion though the Congressional Budget Office estimates spending to reduce by $44 billion.
While politicians can’t agree on the exact figure, sequestration will affect all Americans especially veterans. Those veterans working as government employees for the Department of Defense (DoD) can expect mandatory furloughs. This action results in a four day workweek and a loss of 20% of pay for up to 22 weeks. The expected savings for the DoD are between $4 and $5 billion.
Veterans working for other government entities can also expect furloughs. The exact impact will vary from agency to agency but furloughs seem to be an easy way to reduce costs. Government employees, veterans or not, are bracing for less income for some period of time.
Veterans working as federal contractors, on the other hand, may lose their jobs entirely. The DoD has stated that it will honor its existing contracts but will achieve its savings from weapons programs and service contracts. The savings, unfortunately, will be tied to a job somewhere and contractors will lay off personnel as requirements change.
Sequestration will not only affect DoD contractors but those serving other parts of the federal government, as well. For example, the Department of Energy (DoE) spends 90% of its budget on contractors for management and other duties. A reduction in spending will have a direct impact on DoE contracted workforce.
Unemployed and homeless veterans will also be affected by sequestration. The Veterans Employment and Training program is expected to lose $4 million and state veteran job program grants will also be reduced. The Department of Housing and Urban Development expects to reduce housing vouchers and rental assistance programs for individuals including veterans.
Veterans are in all social and economic classes, and because of this, it is impossible to provide a sole or predominant impact from sequestration. They will all, however, be impacted by reduced government spending as will most Americans. It is unfortunate that Obama allowed sequestration to occur. Whether it was done to provide political cover for entitlement reform or just Chicago-style politics remains to be seen. The only certainty is that his administration got what it wanted.