Sequestration’s cuts hit hardest behind headlines, agencies say

Democrats in Congress have had a hard time convincing the public that sequestration is a problem.

Their assertions that the automatic federal spending cuts are imperiling services for poor children, vulnerable seniors and the disabled are falling on disinterested ears.

They know children are not getting booted in droves from Head Start programs, seniors are not getting dropped by the thousands from Meals on Wheels services and homeless teenagers are not getting sent back to the streets as shelters are shuttered.

Not yet, at least. To most Americans, the sky hasn’t fallen on their lives.

And when the skies did get a touch unfriendly recently, Congress moved swiftly to end furloughs of air traffic controllers in order to end long waits for travelers.

“Before we start patting each other on the back for this bill, I think it’s important that we recognize that we’re not fixing the bigger problems that sequester has created,” Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., cautioned in a rare floor speech last week. “This lands somewhere short of a profile in courage.”

Solving the air traffic controller dilemma quickly and with such uncustomary bipartisanship probably didn’t make getting rid of the sequester any easier for Democrats. A skeptical public will now expect if any cut is causing big trouble, Congress will step in to deal with it.

Maybe so. To that end, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, the state’s senior senator, is out this week cataloguing the troubles to share with her peers.

“It does deeply concern me that the squeaky wheel gets the grease when the fact is there are a lot of people who are really struggling and whose stories aren’t in airports, they are in their homes,” she said Tuesday outside Cocoon House in Everett, which provides emergency shelter for homeless and at-risk teenagers.

She had just finished an hour-long sit down with representatives of Cocoon House, Everett public schools, the Housing Authority of Snohomish County, Senior Services of Snohomish County and Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County.

One by one, the speakers outlined the dollars and programs they’ve lost or will lose as a result of the federal government paring $85 billion in spending through Sept. 30.

Two hundred youths won’t get into the shelter. Two thousand hot meals won’t be delivered to home-bound seniors. The number of housing vouchers for low-income families will decline.

“The effects are real. The dollars and cents are real,” said Bob Davis, executive director of the Housing Authority.

No one challenged the senator on the air traffic controllers during the conversation. That didn’t mean they weren’t frustrated by what occurred.

“You can survive waiting in line,” Cassie Franklin, chief executive officer of Cocoon House said afterwards. “You can’t survive sleeping on the street.”

Murray took notes and asked questions. She zeroed in on what is happening now. She compiled a long list.

“If you’re one of those senior citizens who rely on that one hot meal a day for your nutrition, and you are not getting it any more, it impacts you,” she said. “But you are not able to get the New York Times and Washington Post and major media outlets to come and see that. And so that is what I am trying to do and why I am here today.”

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Everett man killed at bar had criminal history, gang ties

A bar employee reportedly shot Matalepuna Malu, 29, whose street name was “June Bug.”

2 names released from recent fatal crashes

Both men were killed earlier this month.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Most Read