Transcript: Press briefing remarks by Emily Holubowich of NDD United on the impacts of sequestration

Partial transcript of remarks by Emily Holubowich, Executive Director, Coalition for Health Funding and Co-Chair, NDD United, on the negative impacts of sequestration. The press briefing was held on Feb. 11, 2013.

NDD [non-defense discretionary] programs are core government functions provided for the benefit of all, including public health and safety, law enforcement, education and job training, veterans’ services, medical and scientific research, weather monitoring and environmental protection, natural resources, housing and social services, and transportation and infrastructure…

Both defense and non-defense programs are equally critical to economic growth and the safety and security of our nation.

These discretionary programs are not the reason for our growing debt and yet so far they have been the only place lawmakers have been willing to cut by about $1.5 trillion to date.

Non-defense programs alone have been cut by $900 billion, bringing spending on these programs to levels not seen since Eisenhower was president.

As we saw from the White House memo on Friday, and as you’ll hear from our panel today, cuts to discretionary programs alone not only won’t balance the budget, they will cripple our ability to grow our economy and provide an environment where all Americans have the opportunity to lead healthy, safe, and productive lives.

…Sequestration is about more than numbers on a ledger; there are real people behind these numbers and their lives and livelihoods that are on the line. These cuts have consequences and every American will pay the price.

With fewer food inspectors, we’ll be more susceptible to food-borne illness. We’ll be at greater risk for deadly disease outbreaks as public health laboratories close. With fewer air traffic controllers, flights will be curtailed. Classroom size will increase as teachers are laid off. National parks will close. We’ll be less safe with fewer police on the streets. And we’ll wait longer for cures for debilitating illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Today, NDD United is sending to members of Congress and the White House a 72-page letter signed by 3,200 national, state, and local organizations, including those represented here today, to stop the political brinksmanship, to stop cutting for cutting’s sake, and to start working together on a balanced meaningful solution to our nation’s debt.

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