In November's election, the citizens spoke loudly and decisively. They expect President Barack Obama and Congress to work together on the important issues of the day: speeding up our slow economic recovery, getting people back to work and getting our budget in order so that we don't leave a mountain of debt to our children and grandchildren. In my first month as a newly elected congressman, I remain optimistic that we can work together to find solutions to these pressing challenges. But I have also already seen the politics of dysfunction and gridlock first-hand. We must do better.
Washington's dysfunction is no clearer than in Congress' failure to have a real debate about our budget. We must address the budget in a responsible way, by simplifying our tax code and ending unfair loopholes and giveaways to corporations such as big oil, and finding savings in programs that are outdated and no longer effective. We must also grow our economy through strategic investments that will create jobs and opportunity.
Unfortunately, a discussion about the budget is not even taking place in Congress. Instead, Congress is approaching another self-imposed, arbitrary crisis. On Friday, automatic 8.2 percent across-the-board spending cuts called sequestration will go into effect. These haphazard cuts will impact everything from education and jobs in Sacramento County to our country's national security.
In the last few weeks, I've learned about how these potential cuts could affect Sacramento families. For example, a $1.5 million reduction in Community Oriented Policing Services funding would immediately affect our already-stretched local law enforcement. When I met with Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, he told me about how successful programs like the sheriff's Community Impact Program, which has significantly reduced violent crime in our area, would be cut.
Education and jobs would also be affected. Officials from the University of California, Davis, who recently visited my office told me that the university will lose $42 million in research funding if the sequestration occurs. The UC health system will see a reduction of $4.6 million. That could mean the loss of thousands of jobs in our area, and hinder the kind of innovation that can jump-start our economy.
And vital early childhood education programs that prepare our kids for success will be cut. Seventy thousand children could be kicked out of Head Start, more than 1,000 in our district alone, and 10,000 teachers would face losing their jobs. We need to prepare our children to compete in the 21st-century economy, not stop early education programs that we know are successful.
As a newly elected congressman, I'm doing my best to try to find a path forward. Recently, I was proud to become a member of the No Labels "Problem Solvers" group made up of members of Congress from both parties who meet regularly to find common ground and move our country forward. I also voted with Republican colleagues to pass "No Budget, No Pay," which says that if Congress doesn't do its job and pass a responsible budget, then members of Congress won't get paid. And I was only one of 23 Democrats who voted to ask the president to introduce a budget that leads us on a path to a balanced budget.
Now is the time to work together to avoid the serious consequences of these across-the-board cuts. Democrats have suggested an alternative that includes the "Buffett rule," which reduces the deficit without hurting middle-class families; ends taxpayer subsidies to big oil; and ends loopholes that corporations exploit. If we take this approach, we could protect the 750,000 jobs the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates we'll lose if we allow sequestration to take place. So far, though, congressional leadership is not allowing us to even debate this balanced, sensible approach. The country should demand this debate.
Congress must act. We need to make strategic budget reductions and begin to address our national debt. But we need to do so in a responsible way. Allowing across-the-board cuts is irresponsible; it will hurt families, thwart our economic recovery and jeopardize our security.