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Obama says sequester to cause ‘pain’ for middle class

Andrew Holleran / Photo editor

After much frenzy surrounding the sequester, President Barack Obama signed an official order to cut government spending by $85 billion this fiscal year and by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, and some students are worried about how it will affect higher education.
The White House reported that about $6.8 billion would be cut from scientific research and development funding, which could affect thousands of university professors and students across the nation.
Recently re-elected Undergraduate Student Government President Taylor Stepp, a third-year in public affairs, said he is disappointed in the government not reaching a bipartisan solution but will work to alleviate the burden of less financial aid for students.
“USG has a number of … ways we will be reaching out to the federal government to try to make sure we can get some of those issue dollars back,” Stepp said. “We’re seeing what we can do with innovative ways to grow financial aid for students, so I think we do have a lot of proactive steps that are going to put things in the right direction.”
In a Friday evening press conference, Obama placed the blame of the sequester outcome on Republican legislators, citing their lack of cooperation.
Niraj Antani, OSU College Republicans spokesman and a fourth-year in political science, said the president generated the idea of the sequester.
“We’re just hopeful that the Senate and the president will either take up the Republican bills to end the sequester without raising taxes, or to come up with an idea on their own,” Antani said. “I think it’s critically important in a national security sense but also to protect our students who have work-study jobs and are working hard to pay for school.”
Calling the cuts “dumb and arbitrary,” the president said the sequester, which will begin taking continual effect in the next couple of months, might not have an immediate impact but will still significantly affect the lives of middle-class American families.
“The pain, though, will be real,” Obama said.
Anika Willner, a fourth-year in political science, said she understands that government spending needs to be trimmed down, but does not support the reduction of certain entitlement programs or student financial assistance.
“I know so many people that work 40 hours a week and are trying to pay for college who rely on financial aid, and it makes me mad that they have to suffer now because these politicians couldn’t reach an agreement,” Willner said.
The president authorized these automatic spending cuts late Friday night after many failed attempts at agreement from congressional leaders.
Spending reductions are expected to affect the interests of both political parties. Half of the sequester cuts will be toward military and defense, a mainly Republican priority, and the other half will affect domestic programs largely supported by Democrats.
An area of these domestic programs that will be cut is financial aid assistance for higher-education students. The Pell Grant, the nation’s largest student financial program, is exempt from these reductions, but other programs such as the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and work-study programs will be affected.
According to a White House state-by-state breakdown, Ohio will be the one of the most affected states in the nation by these financial aid cuts, with 3,320 fewer students being able to receive financial aid.
Diane Stemper, executive director of student financial aid in the division of enrollment services, told The Lantern last week that for the 2013-2014 academic year at OSU, about $62,000 would be lost from the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and $113,000 from work-study funds.
According to multiple sources, other possible consequences of the sequestration include longer airport security lines due to fewer Travel Security Administration (TSA) workers, fewer air-traffic controllers and flights, fewer FBI agents and less surveillance, cuts to child service programs such as Head Start, a $1 billion reduction in disaster relief funds and neglect for people suffering from mental illness, substance addiction and homelessness.

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