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June 25, 2013

What the WSJ Missed: Sequestration is Impacting Northern Virginia

When The Wall Street Journal visited Northern Virginia recently and concluded that federal budget shenanigans weren’t having much of an impact on the region the paper should have looked harder.

If they bothered to find the folks who get up to go to work when most of us are sleeping – who struggle to support their families and strive for a better life – they would have seen a very different picture. In fact, this thing we call “sequestration” is having serious consequences, no matter how comfortable life at the top might be for the people the Journal found.

Take Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), a non-profit organization in the region that helps low-income working people in a number of ways, from helping families see a doctor or dentist to giving parents the education and skills to land a better paying job.

NVFS also provides top-quality daycare that not only frees up parents to work but prepares their children for school and a lifetime of learning. Because of what’s happening in Washington, NVFS has laid off staff and made other cuts like eliminating rides from home to daycare for many kids. Parents who may be at work when their kids would have been picked up now have to scramble to find another way to get them there, which may cause them to lose hours at work or even worse their job altogether.

There are other examples. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors had to raid next year’s budget in order to keep helping low-paid working people afford their rent, leaving open the possibility that before long people who need help will instead get evicted.

So it turns out you really don’t have to look very far to find people who are hurting because Congress won’t get its act together.

And it’s important to understand, too, that failing to provide support for a wide range of services that help hard working people move up the economic ladder doesn’t just hurt them. It hurts us all, because an economy that’s working for some but not others is a pretty weak foundation on which to build for the future.

–Jeff Connor-Naylor, Program Director, Northern Virginia

The Commonwealth Institute

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