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Have Questions about Sequestration and the Fiscal Cliff?

November 28, 2012 09:02 AM

Sequestration and Fiscal Cliff - FAQs and What You Can Do

 
What is Sequestration?
 
The Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) established caps on discretionary spending over 10 years, resulting in $1 trillion in cuts spread across defense and non-defense discretionary programs. The law also directed a congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to identify an additional $1.2 trillion in budget savings over ten years.
 
The failure of the bi-partisan “super committee” to come to an agreement on a deficit reduction plan, triggered a “sequester” to take effect on January 2, 2013. Sequestration will mean an automatic 8.4 percent cut to program funding levels for most non-defense discretionary programs.
 
Non-defense discretionary or “NDD” programs are core functions that the U.S. federal government provides for the benefit of all, including medical and scientific research; education and job training; infrastructure; public safety and law enforcement; public health; weather monitoring and environmental protection; natural and cultural resources; housing and social services; and international relations.. These cuts will truly be across-the-board, with no departmental or agency control on how the sequester impacts individual programs.
 
What is the Fiscal Cliff?
The fiscal cliff is a combination of federal tax and spending legislation that must be addressed very quickly (within the next month). Tax cuts, including the so-called Bush tax cuts, are set to expire soon. Congress will have to figure out whether to extend them, and if so, which ones to extend. These proposed tax cuts combined with the looming spending cuts are essentially what equates to the fiscal cliff.
 
How does this affect me?
Most music therapists work in settings that will be affected by pending sequestration cuts. Whether you are working in a hospital setting, a school setting, a VA program, or even if you are self-employed; it is almost guaranteed that the spending cuts proposed to correspond with sequestration will affect you directly.
 
What happens now?
Lawmakers will be working to come to a compromise. Most expect that they will be able to reach some sort of temporary deal before the end of the year. Unfortunately, that is far from a sure thing.
 
What can you do?
Contact your local representatives. www.senate.gov and www.house.gov
 
· Use the contact as an opportunity to educate. Let your representatives know that you are a practicing music therapist living / working in their district. Name your facility or neighborhood.
 
· Express your concerns about the looming crisis and request that they work to find a balanced and bi-partisan approach to solving America’s fiscal issues.
 
· Let your representative know that you plan to pay attention to how they respond to this issue and will be in touch once any changes or decisions are made.
 
This is a great opportunity to ”make your voice heard” to your Federal legislators and make it known that concern about the fiscal crisis is a reality within their constituencies.
 
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact Rebecca Smith, AMTA Government Relations Associate, smithr@musictherapy.org
 

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