Se·ques·tra·tion (n) /ˌsēkwiˈstrāSHən/: a four-syllable word that hasn’t been part of average American vocabulary for long. Now the term is ubiquitous, even blamed for a vast number of completely unrelated problems. High gas prices? Must be sequestration. Long wait time on a business license? Probably the sequester. Got a flat tire? That darned sequester is to blame.

So what is sequestration? Etymologically speaking, the verb “sequester” itself derives from the Latin sequester which meant “trustee” or “mediator.” It has links to the root sequi (“to follow”), but by the early 16th century the word “sequester” meant “to seize by authority, confiscate.” Today “sequester” also carries a similar meaning to “isolate” or “withdraw.” In budget contexts, sequestration implies withholding funds normally disbursed.

For the United States government, the Sequester was a massive set of budget cuts enacted by The Budget Control Act of 2011. This Act contained provisions that if the United States Congress could not formulate and pass a federal budget by a certain date, these massive budget cuts would occur across most departments and agencies (about 50/50 between defense and domestic spending). Other countries have proposed and enacted similarly drastic spending cuts to balance their budgets, but have typically called those measures “austerity policies.”

Congress’s threat of sequestration was supposed to incentivize compromise on reducing the deficit in the federal budget. After all, those who support a large defense budget would hopefully work harder to come up with a budget to keep this funding intact; those who support high amounts of domestic spending would fight tooth and nail to pass a budget to avoid those cuts.

Multiple attempts to compromise were made on both sides of the aisle, but in the end, Congress was unable to agree, and the government plunged over what many called “the fiscal cliff.” Many saw this as the point of no return for Congressional compromise — or, rather, the lack thereof; others winced at the blunt nature of the cuts but expressed support for the step towards a balanced federal budget. For invaluable foreign aid programs, however, the sudden budget cuts threaten to hurt many more people than just Americans.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: CNN,Online Etymology Dictionary,
Photo: Esibytes

Bush Administration Writer Speaks About Aid
Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George w. Bush, spoke on the topic of foreign aid in the Old Capitol Museum in Iowa City. Gerson stated that to cut American foreign aid would be a uniformed and misguided action.

Gerson criticized Senator Rand Paul’s recent statements about seriously cutting American foreign aid. Gerson reminded the attendees that foreign aid is not the main reason that we are in such national debt; in fact, it is one of the smallest programs into which federal dollars are sent. He also spoke about the sequester and why cutting aid should be out of the question. The speaker claimed that “even cuts don’t cut evenly.”

A cut to foreign aid spending would, in effect, take away from programs that save lives and improve the quality of life for many people living in poverty around the world while a cut to military spending of highway maintenance may be hurtful but they would not affect people’s ability to survive like lost aid dollars might. It is important that political figures, Democrats and Republicans, speak up and ask that the federal government does not cut funding for our foreign aid programs.

Being politically active isn’t just for well-known political figures, it is for all of us. Find and contact your representatives.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: Press Citizen
Photo: BlogSpot

Sequester Threatens Foreign Aid
The sequester has many people nervous for a number of reasons, and the future of foreign aid is one of them. The sequester that was planned to start at the beginning of this month was designed to cut hundreds of billions of dollars in national spending. Patrick Christy and Evan Moore have recently published their case on why U.S. foreign aid should not be cut by the sequester. Currently, foreign assistance is scheduled to be decreased by 5.3 percent in the coming year and an additional cut of $50 billion over the next ten years.

Foreign assistance serves many purposes; it helps keep America safe by stabilizing areas of possible conflict and eliminating the root causes of terrorism while strategic aid provides American job security. Not to mention the positive effects that aid programs have, fighting hunger and poverty, building schools, and improving the quality of life for millions of people around the world.

U.S. foreign aid is still less than 1 percent of the national budget and as Senator Marco Rubio said: “if you wiped out all the foreign aid in the world, you wouldn’t notice it in terms of the debt conversation.” Whatever happens when the sequester compromise talks end, Congress will have to consider these issues before cutting foreign aid.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: US News
Photo: CS Monitor