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America yawns as feds warn of sequester cuts

Published 9:19am Thursday, March 7, 2013

I find the absence of terror at this newest artificial economy-in-the-balance deadline hilarious.
Leadership in both branches of government, both houses of Congress, both sides of the aisle, somehow decided over the last few years that artificial deadlines were the way to get things done.
Maybe not “get things done,” per se. More like “appear to do things without anyone being able to specifically blame you for the dubious outcome of that action.”
So we’ve had two, maybe three rounds of debt ceiling brinksmanship. It seems like we just finished the fiscal cliff nightmare, of which sequestration was part of the problem.
But during one of those debt ceiling debacles, I’m pretty sure I recall the sequestration being part of the solution. Right?
So what we really did was back in January, is not so much avoid the fiscal cliff, but hit a ramp that propelled the nation –or the economy, or is it Congress? — up into the air these last three months. Now we’re out of momentum and as of Friday, the sequester is in effect.
Did we crash into the sequester? Is our economy now a smoking heap on the ground? Is it the economy, or the country, or Congress, that’s crashing?
Wasn’t there a cliff involved at some point?
Frankly I’m pretty confused about the metaphors being bandied about these days. And I pay attention to this stuff on a fairly regular basis.
I can’t imagine what the average viewer of “Dancing with the Stars” or “Monday Night Raw” thinks about it. Well, I’d imagine they don’t think about it at all.
Lately, it seems like our elected officials can’t get anything important done without some extra incentive or artificial deadline.
On a lazy Saturday, I might tell myself that I can’t eat another brownie until I’ve cleaned up half the garage. But sometimes I just say “forget the garage” and eat potato chips instead.
But then, the cleanliness of my garage doesn’t affect the cost of milk, eggs or a gallon of gas . These self-imposed deadlines and bullheaded fights for oddly one-sided “balanced approaches?”
Well I remember a time not long ago when the United States had the best possible credit rating and gas wasn’t climbing toward $4.
So it looks like this time the Republicans called the administration’s bluff. And I’m willing to bet President Obama and Congressional Democrats’ nightmare is that nothing will happen.
Sure, some federal workers could be furloughed a day each pay period. But really, in the current job market, is it so awful for government workers to have a small taste of what most private employees have been through these past five years?
And really, how gigantic are these cuts?
Maybe not so much. The $85 billion in spending cuts come in a year when the country’s yet again on pace to spend $1 trillion more than it brings in.
Now there are a lot of zeroes implied in that last sentence. So lets drop nine naughts from both figures.
If your family was already on pace to put $1,000 on the credit card for the year, would it make sense to cut $85 in spending? Would it even seem like a big deal?
But it has to seem like a big deal, or there’s no partisan advantage to be found. And we can’t have that, can we?
So instead of cutting back on travel, dropping a few executive assistants to the deputy undersecretaries of whatever, the idea is to make it hurt.
They slash Title I money to disadvantaged children. They talk of refusing vaccines and closing air traffic control towers.
They stop the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the world’s hottest hotspot.
But keep in mind, there are places to cut? President Obama has travelled the nation to campaign against Republicans and make sure the blame falls on the starboard side of the aisle.
Air Force One, and the full multi-plane Secret Service entourage, are pretty pricey to move around.
If they were truly worried, wouldn’t it make sense to cut back in the easy places — maybe do another Google Hangout from the Oval Office instead of flying —rather than force the pain just to make a point?

David D. Goodwin is political editor of The Wetumpka Herald. Email

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