Timing is everything. Lower-income families in the DC area are currently being hit with a trifecta of de-stabilizing realities, and it is not a winning combination.
Every family would be hit by the effects of sequestration, the across-the-board federal budget cuts being volleyed back and forth in Congress, set to come into effect on March 1.
Our economy is just now starting to turn the corner, and it’s still in a very precarious situation — as are many Americans. Many don’t know whether they will have a job six months from now.
The sequester would cut about $80 billion this year alone, and while economists see the numbers, those of us focused on food insecurity can only see the widespread effect on lower-income families.
Paychecks and balances
Low-income and middle class families need to be able to grow with confidence. They need to know that by working hard while keeping their families healthy and educated, they will have a more prosperous future.
The March 1 sequestration will implement furloughs – mandatory one day/week cuts in pay, which translates into $1.1 billion in lost income:
Meanwhile, this is all on top of the increase in taxes paid on payroll, which has already meant a smaller paycheck for the middle class and the working poor. Struggling to keep the family fed is tough enough with a low-paying job, but the recent increase in payroll taxes chips away further at an employee’s take-home pay.
Right after that one-two punch, comes the rising gas prices. Getting to and from work, health appointments and family life, everyday things come with a higher price tag.
We are seeing the working poor watching in fear to see what sequestration will bring. True, the cuts may be temporary, but they are set to happen, worsening a difficult situation for many working poor and pushing some of them into hunger for the very first time.