Pennsylvania will feel effects of sequester
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WASHINGTON -- Children won't be vaccinated, airport security lines will grow, federal workers and government contractors will lose their jobs, drug addicts won't get treatment, schools will lose funding, civilian military personnel will have their hours and wages cut, and the state will be more susceptible to pollution and infectious disease.
The White House warned Sunday that Pennsylvania will feel those effects and more because of the impending cuts on every area of federal spending that will go into effect Friday if Congress can't agree on a plan to avoid the so-called sequestration.
In a conference call with reporters Sunday, the White House painted a gloom-and-doom scenario for the country and blamed the problem on Republican ideology and inflexibility.
"We're not asking for a my-way-or-the-highway approach. We can get rid of this whole thing ??? by getting rid of loopholes," said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior White House adviser. "Republicans are making a policy choice that these cuts are better for the economy than closing loopholes for the wealthy."
The choice, according to an administration analysis, would mean Pennsylvania would have $26.4 million fewer federal education dollars to spend, putting 360 teacher and aide jobs at risk. It would mean 2,300 fewer Pennsylvania children will have access to Head Start, the state would lose $1.5 million in grants for fish and wildlife protection, that 36,860 fewer unemployed Pennsylvanians would get help finding jobs, and that 5,280 fewer vaccines would be administered for diseases such as measles, whooping cough and tetanus.
The analysis details more than $220 million in direct losses of federal funding to the state. That includes cuts of about $150 million in pay to civilian military personnel.
Administration aides said that's reality, not fear-mongering.
Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the House has acted twice to replace the sequester with common-sense spending cuts, but the Senate has not followed suit.
"Now it is up to President [Barack] Obama and his Senate," Mr. Steel said Sunday.
Congressman Mike Kelly, R-Butler, said Republicans don't want the sequester to happen but they're willing to let it happen in order to force a longer-term solution to the country's debt crisis.
In Philadelphia, Democratic Congressman Chaka Fattah said there's still time for Congress to avoid the sequester.
Mr. Fattah said he prefers "smart cuts" to automatic across-the-board ones.
First Published February 24, 2013 8:46 pm