Over 149 mayors have come together to urge Congress to forge a bipartisan, comprehensive deal to gradually stabilize the debt and put it on a downward path as a portion of the economy.
In a letter sponsored by the United States Conference of Mayors, city leaders from New York to Sacramento were succinct in emphasizing the harmful effects discretionary spending cuts would have on city programs and regional economies, one-third of which will affect critical state and local programs. The impacts look something like this:
- 36 percent of spending cuts is directed to education;
- 28 percent to housing and community development;
- 18 percent to health and the environment;
- 10 percent to workforce; and
- 5 percent to public safety and disaster response.
The group noted that more scheduled cuts through sequestration will cause domestic funding to dip far below historical levels, subsequently “forcing inevitable cuts to a number of critical local services and dramatic job losses for teachers, first responders, and health care workers.”
Beyond domestically appropriated funding, a sequester would also be catastrophic for those metro economies that rely on the defense sector to employ military personnel and drive investment and research at institutions of higher education.
Like many families, mayors understand tough choices and how to operate within a balanced budget. But that hasn’t been easy over the last couple of years. State and local budgets are only now starting to recover from the recession, which saw sweeping public-sector job loss and increased regional unemployment. Unless Washington acts now, the mounting national debt will unravel these fragile local economies and worsen the standard of living for everyday Americans.
While many observers aren’t surprised by the call for action by the country's city leaders, the group’s cogent argument for the federal government quickly getting its fiscal house in order is step in the right direction. From Wall Street to Main Street, the refrain is clear: Now’s the time for Congress to put aside differences and get America back on a track to prosperity.
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