As the federal budget debate continues on Capitol Hill, Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity is here to track possible impacts on low-income people. This page covers national reporting and local papers that outline the impacts of potential budget changes to local or state programs, in addition to statements and resources shedding light on potential consequences for vulnerable Americans. Check back here for up-to-date news and information about key developments. To submit a resource, email Tamanna Mansury at

  • February 26: The Hamilton Project at The Brookings Institution held a forum bringing together experts from a variety of backgrounds and political leanings to discuss innovative proposals for lowering the deficit by reducing expenditures or raising revenues, that that take into account effects on the economy at large. Click here for more information. 
  • February 22: The Center for American Progress held a panel discussion to examine the effects of impending sequestration, a large set of spending cuts set to kick in on March 1, which could impact an array of services and benefits including nutrition assistance for pregnant women.  Click here for more information.






  • On October 2, 2012, the Urban Institute held a forum to examine what's store for taxpayers if Washington fails to act on the tax increases or if only some of them are repealed or deferred. Panelists included Robert Greenstein , president of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin , president of the American Action Forum. Click here to watch the event video .


The Nation, October 07, 2013: (Blog) Shutdown, sequestered, and days of awe

“I’m reminded of these words as we witness the hardships created by sequester, now intensified by a government shutdown: up to 19,000 more kids unable to attend Head Start schools, adding to the 57,000 shut out by sequester.”

The Los Angeles Times, October 01, 2013: (Op-Ed) Sequester's cuts will endure because of budget war

“Just as the government shutdown leaves congressional pay and benefits intact, so does the sequester. The damage is all done at the opposite end of the economic scale. Thousands of low-income residents of public housing will be thrown out of their homes. Public housing authorities that managed to stave off evictions this year say they will be out of options next year, when the cuts go deeper.”

The Record, September 29, 2013: Federal cuts put Head Start in North Jersey in a bind

“Need evidence that the federal budget cuts enacted under the so-called sequester are taking a toll on people in North Jersey? Look no further than Head Start, the widely acclaimed program that provides early childhood education and other services to low-income children and their families.”

The Daily Gazette, August 24, 2013: Head start programs take hit from federal budget cuts

“As the school year quickly approaches, Head Start programs will have fewer children in their classrooms -- but not because administrators don't want them there. Wide-ranging federal budget cuts, also known as the sequester, have hit preschool programs hard.”

Bloomberg, August 11, 2013: Parents Losing Jobs a Hidden Cost to Head Start Cuts

“A U.S. preschool program for low-income families allowed single mother Kelly Burford to take a $7.25-an-hour job as a department store clerk in Maryland. Her son, Bradyn, 2, spent the day with friends listening to stories, singing and drawing pictures -- at no cost to Burford. That ended in June, when Bradyn’s school in Taneytown, seventy miles north of Washington, closed after losing $103,000 because of automatic government spending cuts.”

The Telegraph Herald, August 07, 2013: Dubuque-area groups feel the effects of sequestration

“Federal spending cuts have reduced budgets and services for multiple local organizations and programs. And for the time being, there is no relief in sight. The federal government is operating under budget sequestration, across-the-board spending cuts to most programs, excluding entitlements like Social Security, Medicaid and food assistance.”

The Nation, July 19, 2013: (Blog) This Week in Poverty: Mapping the Sequester’s impact on low-income housing

“In April, Doug Rice, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, released a paper that described some of the ways people would be affected by sequestration cuts to local housing agency budgets, including: up to 140,000 fewer low-income families receiving rental assistance vouchers, higher rent for people who can’t afford it and a rise in homelessness.”

The New York Times, July 10, 2013: (Op-Ed) Broken promises

“But these leaders and communities are once again being mistreated by a failed American policy, this time going under the ugly name 'sequestration.’ This ignorant budget maneuvering requires across-the-board spending cuts to the most important programs along with the least important. American Indian kids living in poverty are paying a very high price for this misguided abandonment of Congressional decision-making.”

The Watertown Daily Times, July 10, 2013: Head Start employees take a hit but program is not cut

“Head Start programming in St. Lawrence County will not be reduced despite the loss of nearly $150,000 from the federal sequestration but employees will file for unemployment during vacation breaks instead of being paid for the time off by the Community Development Program.”

The Salt Lake Tribune, July 05, 2013: Housing aid cutbacks hurt struggling Utah families

“Utah low-income advocates watch in dismay as the numbers of Section 8 vouchers that subsidize housing for vulnerable households shrink due to continued congressional gridlock and federal sequestration.”

The Nation, June 21, 2013: (Blog) This Week in Poverty: The older Americans act and US seniors

“Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 at the same time as Medicare and Medicaid, the OAA provides federal funding for essential senior services like job training, caregiver support, transportation, preventative healthcare, meals and protection from abuse and financial exploitation. Funding for the legislation has failed to keep pace with inflation and population growth for decades. Under sequestration, an additional $40 million will be cut from senior meal programs alone, which means that as many as 19 million fewer meals will be available to seniors who need them.”

The Nation, June 14, 2013: (Blog) This Week in Poverty: Congress turns its back on rural America

“Gray said that the sequester cuts in some cases are more significant in rural areas — where families might have to travel ‘forty miles one way’ — than in ‘a larger metropolitan city, where two or three blocks away there might be another option.’ ‘Rural America often gets overlooked. We know Kansas is referred to as a ‘Flyover State’,’ said Gray. ‘But there are a lot of people here, and a lot of people in poverty.’”

The Westerly Sun, June 12, 2013: (Op-Ed) Another View: Food stamp cuts will mean more hungry children, families

“Government spending, as politicians like to tell us, is all about setting priorities. Surely making sure our poorest citizens, especially the children, have enough to eat should be one of our highest priorities.”

The Boston Globe, June 10, 2013: Spending cuts taking hard toll on Head Start

“Started in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty, Head Start aims to address the social, emotional, and academic needs of more than a million children in classrooms nationwide as well as aid their families. Students learn ABCs, numbers, and science basics, most notably, in one Jamaica Plain classroom, about caterpillars. Head Start is one of a broad range of programs, such as those that provide housing for the poor and shelter for the homeless, that are beginning to suffer from the impact of sequestration, the term applied to sweeping federal spending cuts intentionally forged to be so dire that they would force Washington lawmakers to reach a compromise on reducing the nation's deficit.”

The Washington Times, May 31, 2013: (Op-Ed) Alexander: Stuck behind the Medicaid eight ball

“Unlike Medicare, which is limited in scope and funded by payroll taxes and premiums, Medicaid is a fiscal and bureaucratic train wreck. Judging from my experience managing the system in two states for nearly 15 years, I can attest that Medicaid is a monstrosity that has exploded beyond actual need, covering more Americans than Medicare, and even more Americans living above the poverty line than below it. Moreover, its expanding caseload gobbles nearly a quarter of state budgets — more than a third in Missouri and Pennsylvania — crimping investments in education, research and infrastructure.”

The Columbian, May 31, 2013: Food stamps are latest target for cuts

“Competing bills in the House and Senate have set the stage for a clash over the future of the food stamp program and the government's role in fighting hunger. Increased enrollment in the food stamp program during the economic recession caused costs to rise from $35 billion in 2007 to $80 billion last year, and now lawmakers in both chambers are targeting the program for cuts.”

Charleston Daily Mail, May 28, 2013: Sequester budget cuts hitting Kanawha Head Start programs hard

“The program, which puts children from low-income homes into preschool classrooms in the name of school readiness, has been slashed nationally. That's because of the sequester - the automatic spending cuts agreed to last year after a Congressional deadlock on the budget.”

Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2013: (Op-Ed) The case for food stamps

“Those in Congress pushing for cuts ignore the evidence that cutting food stamps doesn't save money -- it actually costs money in added public health expenses and lost job creation. Pushing millions of low-income Americans off food stamps means less nutrition and nourishment, leading to greater human suffering and healthcare costs.”

Brattleboro Reformer, May 18, 2013: Federal cuts hit local Head Start programs

“The Brattleboro School Board at its meeting this week approved a plan by Early Education Services to cut 25 Head Start classroom slots, and another 12 Early Head Start home-based visiting slots due to the federal cuts that will go into place on July 1. Early Education Services Executive Director Debra Gass said the cuts had to be made after Congress failed to address the sequester earlier this year and the EES budget, which starts on July 1, had to be put in place.”

Providence Journal, May 15, 2013: Advocates: R.I.'s homeless population could surge because of federal cuts

“The state's growing homeless population could surge because of federal cuts to housing and shelter programs, advocates at the State House said Wednesday.”

San Francisco Chronicle, May 10, 2013: Federal cuts inflict more pain on the poor

“Slowly and largely under the radar, sequester cuts are trickling down to programs like Kraintz's in Contra Costa, which just lost $100,000. To deal with the cuts to Meals on Wheels, which delivers food to low-income homebound seniors, the program stopped accepting new people into the program. Ordinarily, it accepts 50 new seniors a month.”

Lowell Sun, May 10, 2013: (Op-Ed) Sequestration's effects now rippling across the state

“Community Teamwork Inc. (CTI) seeks to assist low-income people to become self-sufficient and to alleviate the effects of poverty. As an economic engine within the community, our goal is to strengthen the economy in Lowell by strengthening families and small businesses. We have an array of programs funded by the federal government that at their core help individuals to work and contribute to our local economy and help small businesses grow.”

The Journal News, May 10, 2013: 267 kids to miss Head Start under sequester

“Some 267 children in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties will miss out on the chance to be better prepared for kindergarten as the effects of the $85 billion in federal budget cuts known as sequestration hit close to home.”

POLITICO, May 08, 2013: President Obama's cigarette tax up in smoke

"With attention diverted to the failed gun control effort, comprehensive immigration reform and sequester politics, Obama’s universal preschool program hasn’t received the full weight of a White House push since he introduced it during the State of the Union address and traveled to suburban Atlanta to tout it two days later. "

The New York Times, April 30, 2013: (Blog) Missing the Big Picture

“Mr. Obama continues to make the case for thinking bigger, but his actions suggest he is still willing to play the mini-game that Republicans are encouraging, playing favorites among those affected by spending cuts. If he had refused to go along with the FAA sequester exemption, for example, then he might have been able to make a very different case today: Yes, travelers will have to bear some pain, but they will be sharing that pain with pre-school kids and scientific researchers and cancer patients and low-income housing tenants.”