Over 50 Granite Staters demand no benefit cuts for Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard workers joined air traffic controllers, shipbuilders from Bath Ironworks, seniors and Seacoast residents in demanding an end to sequestration in a rally at the shipyard on Thursday, March 21st.
Since sequestration went into effect on March 1st, the across-the-board cuts are expected to cut 750,000 jobs nationwide. Nearly five thousand workers at the shipyard are facing furloughs, the impact of which is certain to be felt throughout the Seacoast, while sequestration will cost Granite Staters $28,481,311 in non-defense funding for critical programs.
“Congress created sequestration, and Congress can make it go away,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie. “While Republicans continue playing their hostage-taking games, working families in New Hampshire are suffering real consequences in the form of lost jobs, furloughed pay and devastating cuts to programs that support the health and wellbeing of our children, seniors and the working poor. It is time for Congress to end these drastic and irresponsible cuts to the services working people need and instead close tax loopholes that only benefit the wealthy and corporations.”
Paul O’Connor, president of the Seacoast Metal Trades Council, argued that the cuts are a senseless response to a home-brewed crisis. “Remember, as we struggle to make ends meet, as we fall deeper and deeper in debt and our families struggle through the stress, as financial instability impacts our ability to maintain security clearances, and as nuclear submarines begin to stack-up awaiting required maintenance, as all that happens, remember, sequestration was manufactured.”
Patte Ardizzoni, the administrator for Rockingham County’s Community Action Project Agency, said that sequestration will disproportionately hit seniors, the poor and disabled. “The issue of sequestration prompts a conversation that involves the adverse impact of financial cuts on crisis programming budgets, delivery of those programs in community action and the inability to serve the numbers that present themselves. Shrinking Head Start classroom numbers, fewer slots available for Fuel Assistance, a lightening of food allotment choices and amounts, and decreased crisis office hours are just the beginning of this very difficult conversation.”
Representatives from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association also testified about the impact that sequestration will have on air travelers. Over 15,000 air traffic controllers nationwide are facing furloughs and hundreds more employed through contract towers are expected to be laid off.
In a brief statement after the event, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said:
“I stand with local workers and businesses in opposition to sequestration’s irresponsible and reckless cuts. I cannot understand why the House majority repeatedly blocked a vote on legislation that would have stopped sequestration for calendar year 2013. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is critical for both our national defense and local economy, and I will continue to support efforts to cancel sequestration.”