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Springfield Republican Op-Ed: Sequester drags American economy down

Sep 8, 2013


Senator Elizabeth Warren

Earlier this year, automatic, across-the board spending cuts went into effect across the country.

As our economy slowly recovers from high unemployment and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, middle class families are struggling to keep their heads above water.

For these families, the effect of these cuts is like being asked to swim with rocks tied around their ankles. People are working as hard as they can, but they just keep getting dragged down.

These cuts, known as the sequester, are dragging down middle class families and is dragging down our economy.

During my visits to cities and towns across Massachusetts, I've heard from families, small business owners and community development organizations - from the Berkshires to the Cape. They tell me what it is like to try to stay afloat with the sequester weighing them down.

More than a thousand employees at Westover Air Reserve Base and Barnes Air National Guard Base in Western Massachusetts are now facing furloughs - which really just means pay cuts. And federal workers across our state stand to lose as much as 30 percent of their salaries from the sequester.

Every one of those losses means already tight family budgets will be hit hard. And every one of those losses means those families have less money to spend in their local stores.

In Massachusetts, we've worked hard and we're starting to recover from the Great Recession, but the sequester just keeps dragging us down.

Hard working families in Massachusetts - and all around this country - have been feeling squeezed, chipped, and hacked at, for too long. And Washington's response - the sequester, makes it even worse.

This is a system that increasingly seems rigged to work for the big guys, but just isn't working for ordinary Americans. These are policies that slash investments in our families and our future. These are policies that protect tax loopholes for the wealthiest individuals and the biggest corporations at the cost of our middle class and no real effort at creating jobs.

I am proud to stand with a President who is out there saying it straight: you can't grow the economy from the top down. It only grows when we have a strong middle class that provides opportunities for growth for all of our kids - rich or poor.

Small businesses, working families, and our whole country do better when we make investments in the future - in education, infrastructure, and innovation - not when we hack away at those investments through nonsense policies like the sequester.

Investing in the future. That's what creates jobs; that's what grows the economy; that's what gives all our kids a chance.

Congress knows what it needs to do. We need to fix our education system, to make it better and more affordable - not cut support, slash after school programs, attack Head Start, and lay off teachers.

We need to increase our investments in clean energy and medical research. Massachusetts is a leader in clean energy technology, energy efficiency, and medical innovation.

We've seen firsthand how these kinds of investments pay off - creating jobs, boosting our economy, and in the long term, reducing energy and medical costs for all of us.

We need to bring together community colleges, businesses, and government to make sure we have highly trained workers that can succeed at the high-tech manufacturing that's going on in this country, at places like Crane & Co. and General Dynamics.

I've seen the possibilities this can have first hand - in places like Springfield, where some high tech manufacturing companies are ready to partner with schools and businesses to get good workers.

I am in Washington to fight for our families and to give them a chance to build a real future. Without the sequester we could rebuild faster, better, and bigger.

There is work to be done. There are roads and bridges in need of repair. There are children to educate. There are medical breakthroughs to discover. And the energy is there to do the work if only Washington will harness it.

The people of Massachusetts are ready. The people of the United States are ready. We just need Congress to get ready too.

Democrat Elizabeth Warren is Massachusetts' senior Senator.

Read the op-ed on the Springfield Republican website here.

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