While Congress scrambled to undo sequestration cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration last week after receiving complaints from frustrated travelers, one Republican is shrugging off the impact of the across-the-board cuts in his state:
Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) said this week that most people that he’s spoken with in his district support the sequester and want to see more of these forced, across-the-board cuts to federal spending.
“The people that I’ve talked to seem to be doing well. In fact, when I got out in restaurants here in town, people come up to me. They want to see more sequestration, not less,” he said, according to KOLR 10 television.
Long also downplayed the effects of the sequester and said people he’s met in Missouri are not feeling the pain of the cuts.
“I think that’s different than it could be in some parts of the country, but we haven’t seen any measurable effect here at all,” he said.
But Missouri isn’t immune to the impact of the cuts. A Head Start facility in St. Charles closed its doors and the program will reduce the number of children by 65 while laying off 18 staff members in other locations. Another in Ironton will drop three weeks of programming. The Youth Conservation Corps program for inner city children at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield will be shut down. Cuts to defense spending will hurt the state, which is home to two large installations, Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base. Whiteman officials have already cut flight training time by 10 percent, eliminated non-essential travel, and frozen civilian hiring.
The pain could pick up speed as the year continues. The state’s Head Start program is likely to drop 1,200 children in total, and its education system overall will lose $11.9 million in funding, putting 160 education jobs at risk, serving 17,000 fewer students, and funding 60 fewer schools. Up to 8,000 civilian defense employees could be furloughed, resulting in the loss of $40 million in wages. A variety of other programs will lose significant money, including meals for seniors, air and water protection, domestic violence services, job search assistance programs, and law enforcement and public safety.
If national polls are any indication, the citizens of his state may not agree with his assessment. A new poll finds that just one in ten Americans said sequestration cuts will help the economy, while nearly half felt that they will hurt. These sentiments held true for Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike.