Days of Change

Sequester Like a Pig | February 23, 2013

Money is very important to Barack Obama. Not only does he like the good life, money is also an important part of modern Democratic (and usually Republican) politics. His first goal as president was to spend nearly a trillion dollars on an undefined stimulus that kicked the can down the road for the coming impasse in public sector pay and benefits. Next was Obamacare, which is making it impossible for working Americans to afford or possess health insurance to the point where they will have to take whatever universal exchange program is offered by the government. The Tea Party was an antidote for that, until they tried to work with Republicans.

The sequester of today started about two years ago. Democrats had been using continuing resolutions to take the place of an actual budget. They use the same mix of funds, but at higher spending levels and avoid the scrutiny of a real budget. The first thing to hit the 112th Congress was the debt ceiling. Democrats raised it before 2011, but just enough so that Republicans would have to raise it in their term. At this point, Tea Party supporters decided that raising the debt limit without spending cuts was not what they signed on for and John Boehner gave them $36 billion, er $0.35 billion in cuts.

In 2012, things got serious. The Tea Party wanted some spending cuts, but Republicans didn’t want to face a shut down of the government in an election year. The answer was to pass legally binding spending cuts, but to kick the can down the road until after the election. The White House responded by proposing a sequester. This would take some of the power away from Republicans by cutting some of their pet programs, like Defense. It also took most of the Congress out of the negotiations by using a “super” committee. The goal was to create a situation where Republicans would blink at the prospect of cutting their sacred cows. To continue the barnyard metaphor, Obama played Chicken and lost.

Sequestration represents a tiny fraction of the federal budget, and about 2% of the affected budgets. Still, a few percent in reductions every year will actually balance the budget. Can we cut 1 out of 70 items from the budget? Well, there’s the Cancer study that got $700,000 to claim that the Koch brothers started the Tea Party movement to keep cigarettes legal. Somehow, I’d think the money would be better spent at the David Koch Cancer Research Center at MIT. That 700K would then make $50 million safe from cutting under the 70:1 formula. I’m sure we could do with 1 less TSA agent out of 70. Or we can scrap the TSA entirely and keep another half billion dollars safe from cuts.

The true doomsday scenario is how much the sequester cuts will affect our lives, but how little. When Bill Clinton shut down the government, he closed parks and other public attractions. He didn’t stop funding studies on the mating habits of slugs or the viscosity of ketchup. There are cuts you can see, cuts you can’t see and cuts they never want you to see. President Transparency doesn’t even want you to know cuts are possible.

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1 Comment

  1. President Transparency doesn’t even want you to know cuts are possible.

    The Repubs need yo reiterate their fiscal stadards, ten stick to them. They can only lose by trying to outwit or outmanoeuvre obama, the al-time dirtiest player in American politics. And, of course, when he lies, the Press swears to it.

    Comment by Mary — February 23, 2013 @ 11:45 pm

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