September 01, 2013

MetroWest Daily News Op-Ed: Stop the heartless, senseless sequester

Across-the-board federal spending cuts are dragging down our economy in MetroWest and across Massachusetts. The sequester threatens countless vital investments in our future - from critical medical research to Head Start for our kids. We've worked hard to recover from the Great Recession, but the sequester is making it harder than it should be for families to get back on their feet.

Here in Framingham, we are seeing firsthand how damaging and senseless the sequester is to Massachusetts. The Framingham Heart Study - a generations-long study of the causes of heart disease - will lose 40 percent of its funding.

This study, which has been ongoing for over 60 years, has saved lives by providing unparalleled insights into heart disease and advances in cardiovascular medicine. The genetic and physical data collected over three generations continues to give researchers around the world insight into a range of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, as well as heart disease.

The study is woven into the fabric of life in Framingham, and it is crucial that we provide the resources to preserve and to continue expanding what has taken decades and generations to build. Unfortunately, under the sequester, these are the kinds of destructive cuts we are seeing all across the Commonwealth and the country.

Other cuts are just as mindless. More and more parents are working, but after school and other programs' funding is getting cut for more than a million of our kids. Ask a million parents what it is like to try to hold down a job when the after-school program closes its doors.

Unemployment is still high and millions of people are working part-time when they want full-time work, but the sequester cuts funding in medical and scientific research and scientific studies, and without those investments, the private sector cuts jobs. Ask laid off workers what it is like to do everything right and to build something valuable, only to learn that blunt cuts in funding mean you've lost your job.

Our cities and towns are straining under the weight of their budgets, but the sequester cuts funding for thousands of first responders, for police and fire fighters who keep our communities safe, for teachers and staff who run our schools, for office workers and repairmen who keep our towns going. Ask anyone if they feel safer when they know fire fighters can't buy new equipment.

Our roads and bridges crack, our power grid is inefficient, our rail and mass transit is outdated, but the sequester cuts funding for needed repairs and new construction. Ask anyone if it is getting easier to get to work. Or ask out-of-work construction workers if they want to work on these projects.

You can't grow the economy from the top down. It only grows when we have a strong middle class. And 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.

In Massachusetts, we know how to build a future. Over the past few months, I've toured downtown redevelopment projects in Quincy and Brockton. I've visited a public transit extension site in Somerville. I've met with startup incubators in Cambridge and Boston. These are just a few of the many incredible projects across the Commonwealth, like the Framingham Heart Study, that will revitalize communities and create new opportunities for working families and small businesses.

During my visits to cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth, the message from the people of Massachusetts has been clear: it's time for Congress to end the destructive Washington policies like the sequester that are dragging down middle class families.

This fight is about economics, but it is also about our values. I am not willing to stand by while billion dollar corporations benefit from tax breaks and funding for food assistance, education, and medical research is slashed. I am committed to fighting to end the sequester and make the critical investments we need to build a future together.
Elizabeth Warren is the senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

Read the op-ed on the MetroWest Daily News website here.

By:  Senator Elizabeth Warren
Source: MetroWest Daily News