Sequester Might Sound Wonky, But It's Real and It Hurts

The National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino advocacy organization, says Head Start cuts will drastically hurt Latino kids. They've put together a YouTube series of interviews with people from NCLR affiliates around the country.

Scarlett Lanzas, executive director of Puentes in New Orleans, said the program is often Spanish-speaking kids' first experience with English. And it helps prepare them for school, so they're not behind other children when they arrive in Kindergarten.

Alba Hernandez, parent involvement coordinator at The Unity Council in Oakland, California, broke into tears at the idea of funding cuts.

A product of the program herself, she said it helped her own children learn when she was a struggling teen mom.

"It would hurt me tremendously to know that a program such as this...could be cut," she said.

Stegman also warned that the potential future impact of sequester years down the line is often overlooked.

The cuts were across-the-board in 2013, but the House and Senate appropriations committees will have a hand in how those cuts are dispersed in 2014, meaning some agencies could see far deeper cuts than others, and groups with lobbying power, like those in the travel industry who want to avoid airport delays, are already trying to escape potential rollbacks.

"There's this move in D.C. to try to lobby to be exempted," Stegman said. "For low-income [services], they're not going to have the same pull."

And sequester is only one issue, he added. Low-income people could also face serious cuts to food assistance programs, for example, and larger discussions about priorities don't always aim to protect the nation's most vulnerable.

It's hard to tell exactly which programs will see cuts in the coming years, he said, but the fact that lawmakers seem to be looking at this as a "long-term reality" is worrisome.

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