Cutting from the bottom

Federal budget sequestration would hit the Bay Area's most vulnerable: poor children, battered women, AIDS patients


While the looming federal budget cuts known as sequestration were designed to equally hit Democratic and Republican party priorities, from social services to the military budget, in the Bay Area they would disproportionately target society's most vulnerable citizens and strain already-stretched local agency budgets.

If Congress and the White House fail to forge a budget deal by March 1, the cuts could begin to withdraw $9-10 billion of federal support from the California. In the Bay Area, these cuts would have the biggest impact on low-income families, the homeless, victims of domestic violence, adults living with AIDS, and children ages 3-5.

Back in September, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed a U.S. Conference of Mayors' letter that called on federal lawmakers to resolve the budget conflict before the sequestration cuts could take effect, labeling the budget cuts "a threat" to local economies nationwide. Now, with the deadline looming, city officials and social service providers across the Bay Area are bracing for the impact.

Depending to how the cuts are eventually allocated, San Francisco alone could lose more than $10 million in critical social services. "All across the city, the sequestration hurts those most in need of services and support," Gentle Blythe, spokesperson with the San Francisco Unified School District, told the Guardian.

San Francisco Unified stands to lose $3.8 million in funding, over 5 percent of the district's federal education dollars. The cuts would strain an already-tight education budget, which has suffered from the slow economy and the corresponding dip in tax revenue. "We've been in a climate of cuts for years," Blythe said. "There is a definite sense of fatigue."

The pending round of cuts would force San Francisco district officials to make a series of uncomfortable decisions. The bulk of San Francisco's federal education funding comes from Title I and Title III grants, money specifically earmarked for low-income students and English-language learners. If the state does not step in to fill the hole, the $3.8 million shortfall will translate into a significant rollback of services for the city's most at-risk students and potential layoffs of teachers and resource officers.

Early childhood programs are especially vulnerable to the impact of the sequester. San Francisco Head Start Director Marjorie Weiss told us the demand for these federal education programs is spiking as more San Francisco children are living in poverty.

US Census figures show 13.8 percent of San Francisco residents were living below the federal poverty line in 2011, up from 12.2 percent in 2005. Over the last decade, 850 additional children became eligible for SF Head Start, which operates federally funded preschool programs in 19 classrooms at 9 different centers across the city.

These programs significantly improve the long-term employment and educational prospects of children living in or near poverty. But as the need for these early-childhood services grows, the money is drying up. Over the last two years, state and local funding for early-childhood education has be cut by nearly 20 percent.

Now, with the sequestration looming, San Francisco Head Start providers are worried about their ability to continue providing services. "At Head Start, we have already been dealing with years of budget cuts," Weiss told us. If the sequester comes through, the program will lose an additional $1.1 million and will be forced to eliminate programming for more than 100 low income children ages 3-5.

"This will be devastating. These cuts will have a crippling effect on low-income children in the community and their ability to be ready for school" says Weiss. The funding cuts will take effect June 1st and directly impact the incoming class of 3-year-old preschool students.


It's not going away. No one cares if the Commerce department has to live with 1.5% less in its budget anyway. Stop acting as if this is the end of the world.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

nothing and makes only a trivial impact on the budget.

I cannot imagine how much SFBG are going to whine when the real cuts start! They ain't seen nothing yet.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

Thank God for the sequester!

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

You can cheerlead all you like. The U.S. is like the Roman Empire in its final hours. Fiddle away, Nero!

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

i am very comfortable with our presence in the ME because they are a threat to the western world. Who else is going to constrain these terrorists? France? Sweden?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

from the economic terrorists here? Obama? Ed Lee? Jerry Brown?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

"I do not fear the danger. I AM the danger"

Heisenberg - Breaking Bad.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 4:03 pm


Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:56 am

"i am very comfortable with our presence in the ME because they are a threat to the western world. Who else is going to constrain these terrorists?"

Good little sheeple. You're so easy to indoctrinate with propaganda. Are you afraid of your own shadow too?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

How soon they forget.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:00 am

"The system was blinking red."

Someone forgot about 9/11 before it happened.

Nobody in the military or CIA lost their job for failing to stop the attacks.

The President did not resign in disgrace for failing to protect NYC.

The only lasting consequences for 9/11 has been the rise of the national security state on steroids and a continued growth in the military.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:49 am

terror plot is just being blind. Not everything is an opportunity for scoring cheap political shots, you know?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:00 am

On that day, foreign-backed terrorists attacked a nation, and 3000 people were murdered. They attacked it because of its freedoms, and the nation was changed forever.

The date was September 11th, 1973. The nation was Chile, and the government that backed the murderers who overthrew the Chilean democracy and installed a reign of terror, was the United States.

Just one of many countries that bear the scars of US foreign intervention. Just one of many dates that Americans have long forgotten in their collective amnesia. No, all we remember is when the fruits of our foreign policy come back to haunt us. But the peoples of the world haven't forgotten. No one can predict where or when the blowback will come from, and in what way. But I would submit that the fewer 9/11/1973's we create, the fewer 9/11/01's we'll have to deal with down the line.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 7:58 am

Obama signals cuts to remain in place
Sequester initiates new austerity drive against US workers

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 3:31 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 8:34 am

Italy is revolting.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 8:52 am

as a result. The Greeks are even more revolting and paying even higher bond rates.

Real good strategy huh?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 10:16 am

Bonds are a contrivance. The US does not need bonds to create dollars, Congress could reclaim monetary sovereignty from the Fed and crank out dollars just as Wall Street did with mortgages.

Nobody had a problem when the inflation was channeled to the housing market, at least not until that bubble popped. The government can create as much money as it wants to so long as those dollars don't bid up prices with inflation. Not to worry, the way to solve inflation is to tax that which is inflating, to remove those dollars from the market.

Greece needs bonds to create Euros until it drops out of the Eurozone as Italy appears poised to do.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 10:32 am

All they need is about 16 trillion dollars.

I would totally support a policy of paying off the national debt, and running a balanced budget each year. In which case, you'd only need to issue debt to allow for the lumpiness of tax revenues, in the way that muni's do with Revenue Anticipation Notes.

But of course the voters will not tolerate the 16 trillion cut in public spenbding, even though personally, I would.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 10:48 am

Congress and the President could direct the Treasury to direct the Fed to create $16t tomorrow and pay off the bonds, the Fed would have no choice.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 11:49 am

How's that working out for them?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

First off, the Argentinian currency is not the USD. The Argentinian debt was not denominated in their currency.

See Bloomberg: "Argentine Budget Sees 3.4% GDP Growth in 2012, 4.4% in 2013"

Bloomberg again: "Growth Stall Obscures U.S. Consumer, Business Gains: Economy"

The economy in the U.S. unexpectedly came to a standstill in the fourth quarter as the biggest plunge in defense spending in 40 years swamped gains for consumers and businesses.

All the US economy has going for it is defense spending, the US economy is structurally fucked, Latin America is diversifying.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:00 am

They racked up something like 100% growth since the Kirchners were first elected. Standard of living has risen dramatically, and they've reaped unexpected side benefits in gaining more liberty with respect to things like LGBT rights and drugs. Giving the IMF the middle finger was the best thing that ever happened to them, and the parties responsible have been rewarded at the polls, to the point where the neoliberal right has all but disappeared from the political scene.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:32 am

Here in the US, the Dow hit an all-time high yesterday.

No comparison. But, as I say, all you have to do is raise 16 trillion more in taxes and you can pay off all those pesky bonds. What are you waiting for?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:45 am

His posts are 100% predictable

Posted by anonymous on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 8:57 am

Quantative Easing, monetizing the debt, asset bubbles, channeling inflation to the equities and housing markets, declining wages, yeah, it is a real economic chucklefest around here.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 9:00 am

So yes, QE is doing exactly what it was designed to do. The democrats got something right.

Now we just need some real spending cuts.

Posted by anonymous on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:31 am

Standard of living has been falling in the US for the past 40 years. At least for the majority. I'd rather be in a country that the IMF hates but where standard of living is rising. In fact, if the IMF hates it, it's a bonus... means they're doing something right.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

had invested in stocks and SF RE. You missed the boat on that and so now whine about those who did. Many of us have prospered from investments to the point where working is now optional.

But clearly since you hate America and capitalism so much, you should move to somewhere like Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea or Albania. I feel sure you'd be much happier there, and we'd be much happier if you quit whining and did something about it instead.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

I've invested in SF RE and even with that my standard of living has fallen over the past 30 years in real terms and I'm in software.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

I've made over a million from SF RE and another million from US stocks. It's easy street for me now and, if you missed the boat, then you probably did not understand the markets and how they can give you more for sitting on your ass and being smart, than a lifetime of work can do at your 9 to 5 cube job.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

My own personal finances are not the issue. Neither are yours. I'm talking about the great majority of Americans, for whom your plan of investing in SF real estate and picking stocks doesn't seem to be working. All they've seen is wealth concentration at the top, while their standard of living is in perpetual decline.

Argentina, and Venezuala for that matter, have chosen a different path. They gave the IMF the middle finger and rejected neoliberal economic orthodoxy. As a result they've seen a rapid rise in living standards over the last decade. They've seen a dramatic rise in per capita income, concurrently with a decline in inequality, which means that the increase in national wealth is accumulating at the bottom first. That's exactly the opposite of what's happening here, where we see falling living standards for most, along with rising inequality, meaning that all the increases in productivity over the last 40 years have accumulated only at the top.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

The financial aristocracy and the growth of working class struggle

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

Of course the World Socialist News ( would be taking this position. Fair and balanced, just like FOX

Posted by Richmondman on Mar. 05, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

Watch this video (YouTube).

George Orwell was off by only about 29 years, but it is here:

Title of video: 1984 Mobile "Police State" Security Cameras Being Deployed in CA

(link blocked by this site).

Posted by Guest on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

Chicken little says doom and gloom if we do not get more, again a rose by any other name is still a rose, they call them cuts, as if this is bad in the first place.
Since when do people not see that Obama is playing each of us off another? Obviously, from the get go, his lies about bringing us together is seen in a time where we have never been so more divided, Mexicans against Whites, Blacks against Whites, gun owners against non gun owners, pro abortion against anti abortion, fiscal conservatives against spenders, takers against givers, poor against rich, traditional against non-traditional, and those that want accountability and those that want to spend like drunken sailors, where are the Bush haters that railed agaisnt the war?
Where are the screamers that wanted Guantanamo closed? And when did trying to reign in spending become a bad thing? All this is a roost that backfired I guess when the NIMBY's get pinched they all of a sudden don't like it.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 06, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

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