WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Over the last few weeks, we've been looking at how the Fiscal Cliff could hurt Americans -- for example, by sending their taxes higher -- but that's not the only way they will feel the Cliff in their wallets.
Low-income Americans are very vunerable because many get by with the help of public assistance programs that could face cuts. If nothing is done, the nation is looking at an 8.2 percent reduction in NON-defense discretionary spending. Even if we don't go over the cliff, those cuts could still be on the table and they would hit low-income Americans pretty hard.
Let's take a look at what NON-defense discretionary spending is:
About a quarter of that spending goes to programs that help the poor. We are talking about programs such as Housing Assistance, Child Care and Education, Nutrition assistance, Home Heating assistance as well as programs for the disabled.
For example, Head Start could be impacted. The program for children reached about one million people in 2010. Under sequestration, the New York Times reports that 100,000 children would lose assistance. The cuts would also end child-care assistance for 80,000 more children.
Advocates for programs that help low-income Americans argue that these programs have already seen big cuts. They say that federal spending on their programs is down by over 56 percent in the last 10 years.
We also have a growing population in the U.S. living in poverty. The number of Americans living on less than $2 a day doubled between 1996 and 2011 to 1.46 million households with 2.8 million children.