Why panic about the sequestration?
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 20:02
Our government’s at it again, using scare tactics and ambiguous words to frighten the American people into forcing Congress to act before going over a mystical cliff, or sequestering itself, or causing some catastrophe that no one really understands nor can explain.
The latest calamity Congress is working so unsuccessfully to avoid is this thing called sequestration. So what is sequestration, anyway? As CNN explains,
“It’s a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts to government agencies, totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The cuts would be split 50-50 between defense and domestic discretionary spending.
It’s all part of attempts to get a handle on the growth of the U.S. national debt, which exploded upward when the 2007 recession hit and now stands at more than $16 trillion. The sequester has been coming for more than a year, with Congress pushing it back to March 1 as part of the fiscal cliff deal at the end of the last session.”
When you examine some of the cuts that will be made--including $14.8 million in lost funding for primary and secondary education; $11.7 million in lost funding for teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities; about $2,211,000 in lost environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality--in Tennessee alone, it’s easy to become concerned and even scared.
However, when we examine the national debt, which is over $16.5 trillion, these cuts are only a drop in the bucket, yet a step in the right direction. It would appear that President Obama finally had a decent idea in cutting some of this country’s spending. I’m not particularly thrilled with the cuts coming at the expense of our children’s educations, but the money has to come from somewhere.
In case my statement about this sequestration being Obama’s idea confuses you, let’s take a little trip back in time to catch up. As CNN reports,
“The plan was that a special congressional panel, dubbed the “super committee,” would find a less painful way to cut spending. It failed in November 2011. That left federal agencies facing what outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called “legislative madness” in the form of harsh cuts that no one wanted.
“For those of you who have ever seen ‘Blazing Saddles,’ it is the scene of the sheriff putting the gun to his head in order to establish law and order,” Panetta said in a speech at Washington’s Georgetown University. “That is sequestration.”
But for many conservatives, sequestration is a feature, not a bug. It’s “the first chance we have for real savings and deficit reduction,” the tea party-aligned lobbying group FreedomWorks tells supporters on its website.
“President Obama already agreed to the sequester savings when he signed the debt ceiling bargain into law,” FreedomWorks says. “He needs to follow through.”
Here’s what I don’t understand: sequestration was initially put in place by the President when he signed the Budget Control Act of 2011. When speaking on the subject to a crowded shipyard in Newport News, Va. on Feb. 26, he said, “There’s a sensible way of doing things, and there’s a dumb way of doing things.” So why, if sequestration was his idea, is it now ‘a dumb way of doing things?’
The other thing I can’t comprehend is, if we saw the debt climbing by leaps and bounds and the job market shrinking more by the day, why on earth was President Obama awarded a second term? Was that Bush’s fault, too?