1. The sequester is a massive slate of spending cuts that will kick in automatically on March 1 if Congress does not act to stop it. From the White House’s informational page: “Congress, back in 2011, also passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach that $4 trillion [deficit reduction] goal, about a trillion dollars of additional, arbitrary budget cuts would start to take effect this year. [T]he whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can’t do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration.”


    1. If the sequester goes into effect, life will get harder for people living with HIV/AIDS. The sequester includes cuts to the National Institutes of Health, the single largest funding source for health research, including HIV research (as we’ve previously reported here). Cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program means fewer people will have access to HIV medications, and the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) state grantees will also face cuts amounting to 424,000 fewer HIV tests, meaning that fewer HIV+ will be diagnosed, and thus won’t know to seek life-saving treatment. [Source: White House fact sheet]


  1. If the sequester goes into effect, help for people on society’s fringes gets cut off. Again, from the White House: “The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides rental assistance to very low-income families, would face a significant reduction in funding, which would place about 125,000 families at immediate risk of losing their permanent housing.” Emergency unemployment payments would drop by 11%, and services for homeless and recently homeless people also face significant cuts.

For more information on the sequester, we suggest these articles from the Daily Intelligencer, Washington Post, and Huffington Post.