Money & Business

Associations Urge Congress to Stop Sequestration

By / Dec 10, 2012 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Associations representing the defense, healthcare, and education sectors voiced their concern last week about the looming threat of the “fiscal cliff.”

We’re getting closer to a ‘Thelma and Louise’ moment, when we careen off into the void.

As the U.S. continues to march toward the “fiscal cliff,” many associations are warning against the potential fallout resulting from sequestration—the automatic cuts that will occur should Congress not reach a budget agreement by December 31.

Here’s how a few associations representing some of the potentially hardest hit sectors—defense, healthcare, and education—addressed the issue last week.

Aerospace Industries Association: “We’re getting closer to a ‘Thelma and Louise’ moment, when we careen off into the void,” AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey told attendees at the association’s year-end luncheon last week. “The time for real work, real negotiation, and a real solution [to sequestration] is now.”

Although the aerospace and defense industry has seen improvements in sales and employment over the last year, major cuts to defense spending would likely affect the industry’s workforce, she said.

Blakey also raised the question of national-security and other risks from cuts that would total $500 billion over 10 years. “The fact that the world’s arsenal of democracy has been relegated to the status of political bargaining chip is difficult to fathom,” he said. “But I am even more concerned about the long-term consequences for our country’s leadership position in terms of global security, technology, and economic strength.”

American Health Care Association: One area of concern for the AHCA is a proposed $700 million cut from Medicare that would affect nursing homes. Last week, the association released new survey data in which 46 percent of those polled said the government should not cut that money.

“The 2 percent cut that is part of sequestration comes on top of many other cuts our sector has already absorbed in the last year: health reform, regulatory-driven Medicare reductions, and more,” AHCA President Mark Parkinson said in a joint statement with the president of the Texas Health Care Association. “Our members across the nation are very concerned about how they will absorb another severe cut.”

National Education Association:

In response to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) fiscal cliff counter plan, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said Republican leadership produced a plan merely to “check a box.”

“The so-called ‘counterproposal’ is misguided and unbalanced and, if allowed to go into effect, would cause tremendous, irreversible harm to our nation’s seniors, children, and our 50 million students,” Van Roekel said in a statement. “As opposed to offering check-the-box counterproposals, Speaker Boehner and the Republican leadership should join the growing chorus of Americans calling for a balanced approach to protecting what’s important to working Americans: education, jobs, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.”

According to a White House estimate, U.S. Department of Education programs would be cut by 8.2 percent if sequestration occurs.

Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. More »

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