WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- If the sequester goes into effect March 1, it would mandate cuts to programs vital to the economic security of the middle class, the White House said Friday.
"There is no question that we need to cut the deficit, but [President Obama] believes it should be done in a balanced way that protects investments that the middle class relies on," a fact sheet on the sequester released by the White House said. "The president believes we can not only avoid the harmful effects of a sequester but also reduce the deficit by $4 trillion total by cutting even more wasteful spending and eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy."
White House officials said Obama has worked with Congress to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion.
The White House list included programs that touch the middle class and vulnerable populations that would be affected if the sequester is allowed to go into effect March 1.
If the across-the-board cuts in federal spending take effect, the following are some of the programs the White House said would be affected:
-- Education: Funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides and staff could be cut; 70,000 children could be eliminated from Head Start; 10,000 teacher jobs would be at risk.
-- Small business: Reduce loan guarantees to small businesses by up to $540 million.
-- Food safety: Up to 2,100 fewer food inspections could occur.
-- Mental health: Up to 373,000 seriously mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children could go untreated.
-- Security and safety: FBI and other law enforcement agencies would see a reduction in capacity equivalent to more than 1,000 federal agents.
-- Emergency unemployment compensation: People receiving unemployment benefits would see their benefits cut by as much as 9.4 percent.
-- Senior meals: Federally assisted programs such as Meals on Wheels would serve 4 million fewer meals to seniors.