How much will Michigan feel the sequester?

Mar 26, 2013

How much will Michigan residents actually feel the effects of the sequester?

Well, we're still waiting to find out. 

The lack of clarity concerning the real amount of jobs being furloughed and cuts to departments and agencies is largely due to a continuing resolution that President Obama will sign this week.

The resolution will fund the government for the next six months in order to get the country through the next fiscal year. 

Todd Spangler covers the nation's Capitol for the Detroit Free Press and joined us from Washington  D.C.

"Agencies around the state (of Michigan) were lobbying hard for a stop to the sequestration because 70,000 kids for instance were going to lose HeadStart services, but some of that money's been put back in through Congress from the 'continuing resolution' and some hasn't...so we're still waiting to see what the effect will be."

The continuing resolution has left many agencies on tenterhooks, waiting to see what funding they will lose while many employees within the Department of Defense are also waiting to see if their jobs will be furloughed.

In order to truly see the effects of the sequester, Spangler said, we just have to wait for the changes to work through the system.

"When the sequestration went into effect, it was an across the board cut. There were different percentage [cuts] for different agencies, but it was across the board. Agencies were supposed to lop off things off of programs. Now, by going back into it as a part of the budget appropriation from last week, Congress was able to say 'spend on this, but don't spend on that.'"

For example, there was a $500 million cut from NASA's budget for a space shuttle program that no longer exists. Cuts like that may be beneficial, but other things like Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will probably feel the effects of the sequester to  a greater extent. 

Adjustments will need to be made throughout the state, at least 10,000 workers in Michigan could feel it, but everyone is just waiting to find out what happens, reporters included.

To be sure, that doesn't mean that flights won't be taking off. Adjustments will need to be made throughout the state, at least 10,000 workers in Michigan could feel it, but everyone is just waiting to find out what happens, reporters included.

"Part of the problem is that Congress hasn't gone through a normal appropriations procedure for years because of the partisan divide. Because of everything needing 60 votes to pass in the Senate, it's been impossible for a normal appropriation to pass for years. Everything's being done on the fly, last minute...six months at a time," Spangler said.

How much do these frequent, last-minute and temporary decisions reflect on Congress?

Gridlock on Capitol Hill is so common it's difficult to imagine politics without it, but Spangler thinks things are getting better.

...Republicans have shown they really don't have much stomach for shutting down the government at this point.

"Everyone knew that there had to be a continuing resolution otherwise the government was going to shut down, and Republicans have shown they really don't have much stomach for shutting down the government at this point. [Democrats and Republicans] knew the continuing resolution had to be hashed out, and the Senate Democrats and Republicans are going to have to settle."

Spangler noted that though there has been a lot of back and forth, we seem to have reached a place where there's some common ground between parties - at least enough to keep the government from shutting down.

"The country has a lot of issues to settle...maybe sometime down the road people will look back and say these guys made the right decisions."

- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Listen to the interview by clicking the link above.