An Analysis of the Fiscal Cliff


Sequestration; this word describes the budget cuts heading for the United States at the beginning of 2013 if Congress cannot come up with a way to cut 1.6 trillion dollars over the next ten years.  Sequestration is also known as the “fiscal cliff.”  Sequestration means that the government must reduce budgets in order to reduce the United States debt.  If sequestration happens in January, it will most likely send the United States into another recession, which would have the unemployment rate rise above nine percent.
“I think they are potentially dangerous for our country but I’m hoping something will be done to stop it by the President,” senior Lauren Zavaleta said.

In 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act which stated that Congress must come up with a way to cut 1.6 trillion dollars over the next ten year.  The Budget Control Act created the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, options for a balanced budget amendment and automatic budget sequestration.  The Budget Control Act also stated there would be no increase of taxes and a $400 billion debt increase.  If Congress cannot come up with a way to make all the cuts, then all of the departments in the government will have major budget cutbacks.  One of these departments is the Department of Education.

The United States spends more money on education than any other country in the world.  Even with all of this funding, the United States still produces lower test scores than other major countries.  Other countries spend their money differently than the United States does, which helps them produce better test scores yearly.

“We need to focus on where we are putting our money in education,” said Dr. Paul Sullivan, a Professor of Economics at the National Defense University.  The United States would cut back three to four percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) on education if sequestration were to occur.

Many believe education the last decade has been declining; teenagers are dropping out of high school and not receiving their high school diploma.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified to Congress this summer and stated “a staggering 75 percent of young Americans are unable to enlist in the military today because they have either failed to graduate from high school, they have a criminal record or they are physically unfit.

If sequestration does happen in January, then Title I funding will be cut by 1.1 billion dollars, which would cut off funding for more than 4,000 schools in the nation.  Title I funding provides aid to schools featuring low-income families.

“I don’t think we should cut the budget for education because it is needed everywhere and if we don’t have as much money to spend, we won’t be able to provide as many materials that are necessities in order to be educated,” senior Mary Meier said.

Special Education funding would be cut by 900 million dollars, leaving over 6.6 million kids with special needs affected.

“I don’t know if this is legitimate,” said Scott Bergquist, Assistant Principal for Special Education. “If someone showed me the record, like from the federal budget, then maybe I would believe this is going to happen.” Bergquist is among those who do not believe the “fiscal cliff” is going to happen in January.

“In a recent poll of school district leaders, 80 percent of them said they would not be able to use state and local funding to replace lost federal funds,” Secretary Duncan said to Congress in July.  Sequestration will seriously hurt how money is spent on education over the next couple years with these budget cuts.  President Obama said during his campaigning season, “If we want America to lead in the 21st century, nothing is more important than giving everyone the best education possible — from the day they start preschool to the day they start their career.”

*For those interested, check out this video which talks about sequestration with former members of Congress.