Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (D) said the budget cuts would impact the most vulnerable residents of his city. Head Start and employment training programs would suffer, and some grant money to fight crime in high-impact neighborhoods would disappear.
“Minneapolis is a very successful city on almost every level except we have a very large gap between haves and have-nots, and this will cut exactly those services that help close the gap,” he said.
Besides these cuts, Rybak said any other impact from the sequester would be more indirect — such as a corresponding dip in the consumer economy. He said he worries that Target and Best Buy,which are headquartered in Minneapolis, might have declining sales if customers nationwide spend less amid the uncertainty.
For Hennepin County, which encompasses Minneapolis and many of its suburbs, the impact would be minimal, said Mike Opat, chairman of Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.
“If you’re not receiving a check or food stamps, you’re probably not likely to hear the impact of the sequester immediately,” he said. “If there are teachers that are laid off, that would be one example, but the general middle-class citizen is not going to feel this right away.”
The same cannot be said for military communities like Newport News, where Obama visited a nuclear submarine factory on Tuesday to sound the alarm about deep defense cuts.
In Hinesville, Ga., where Fort Stewart dominates the local economy, Mayor James Thomas Jr. said the sequester would have a $56 million impact, forcing furloughs at the massive Army post. He said it would be the biggest blow to Hinesville’s businesses since the Persian Gulf War in 1990, when thousands of U.S. troops deployed to Kuwait.
“This is serious,” Thomas said, echoing the concerns of Corbin, the mayor of Killeen. “When you have a military installation next to your city, you’ve got to be very concerned about anything that affects them because it affects us all.”
There are similar worries along Arizona’s border with Mexico, where agents with the U.S. Border Patrol are bracing for furloughs. Art Del Cueto, president of Local 2544, the union that represents more than 3,000 border patrol agents, said the forced time off would mean pay cuts of up to 40 percent.
“Who in this country can afford a 40 percent pay cut?” Del Cueto said. “If they’re saying it’s not going to have an impact, that’s lying. They need to come down here and walk in the agents’ boots.”
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