How budget cuts could affect you

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 14, 2013 at 2:07 am •  Published: March 14, 2013
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FOOD SAFETY

There could be an estimated 2,100 fewer food safety inspections, meaning greater risks to consumers. Worker furloughs are not planned, but rather the reduction in inspections would come from cuts in travel spending. On meat inspections, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday that it will be several months before meat inspectors are furloughed and that each will likely be furloughed 11 days or 12 days, instead of 15 days as the Obama administration indicated earlier.

TOURISM

Visiting hours at all 398 national parks probably will be cut and sensitive areas blocked off to the public. Thousands of seasonal workers looking for jobs would not be hired, according to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He and National Park Service director Jon Jarvis said visitors would encounter locked restrooms, fewer rangers and trash cans emptied less frequently.

NUCLEAR CLEANUP

There could be disruption of efforts to close the radioactive waste tanks currently leaking at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The Department of Energy estimates that it will have to eliminate $92 million for the Office of River Protection at Hanford, which will result in furloughs or layoffs impacting about 2,800 contract workers. Other high-risk sites facing work delays are the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, Savannah River Site in South Carolina and the Idaho National Laboratory.

EDUCATION

Some 70,000 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten Head Start would be cut from the program and 14,000 teachers would lose their jobs. For students with special needs, the cuts would eliminate some 7,200 teachers and aides. The Education Department is warning that the cuts will impact up to 29 million student loan borrowers and that some lenders may have to lay off staff or even close. Some of the 15 million college students who receive grants or work-study assignments at some 6,000 colleges would also see changes. The 77-member Student Aid Alliance — a coalition of universities and college professionals — says the cost to a student could be as much as $876 annually in new fees, fewer work-study hours and reduced grants for students receiving federal aid.

CONGRESS

Congressional trips overseas likely will take a hit. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told fellow Republicans that he's suspending the use of military aircraft for official trips by House members. Lawmakers typically travel on military planes for fact-finding trips to Afghanistan or Pakistan, or other congressional excursions abroad.

TAXES

The Internal Revenue Service says tax refunds shouldn't be delayed because it won't furlough workers until summer. But other IRS services will be affected. Millions of taxpayers may not be able get responses from IRS call centers and taxpayer assistance centers. The cuts would delay IRS responses to taxpayer letters and reduce the number of tax returns reviewed, impacting the agency's ability to detect and prevent fraud. The IRS says this could result in billions of dollars in lost revenue to the government.

JOBS ISSUES

More than 3.8 million people jobless for six months or longer could see their unemployment benefits reduced by as much as 9.4 percent. Thousands of veterans would not receive job counseling. Fewer Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors could mean 1,200 fewer inspections of dangerous work sites.

HEALTH CARE

Hospitals, doctors and other Medicare providers will see a 2 percent cut in government reimbursements. But they aren't complaining because the pain could be a lot worse if there was a deal to reduce federal deficits. The automatic cuts would reduce Medicare spending by about $100 billion over a decade. But President Barack Obama had put on the table $400 billion in health care cuts, mainly from Medicare. Republicans wanted more. Obama's health overhaul law is expected to roll out on time and largely unscathed by the cuts. Part of the reason is that the law's major subsidies to help uninsured people buy private health coverage are structured as tax credits. So is the Affordable Care Act's assistance for small businesses. Tax credits have traditionally been exempted from automatic cuts.

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