The Chicken Littles in Washington are sure having conniptions over the thought of having to make some spending cuts, aren’t they?
“Sequestration” has become the new scare word, with the White House and its allies using language like “doomsday,” “deeply destructive,” “irresponsible” and “catastrophic.”
President Barack Obama sounded the alarm over sequestration in his State of the Union speech. “These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts,” he declared, “… would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Pardon me while I inject a little reality into this picture.
First of all, there is nothing “sudden” about this so-called crisis. It’s been staring us in the face for the past 18 months. And it was the White House, not Republicans in Congress, who first came up with the idea.
Back in the summer of 2011, Obama’s team made the proposal for mandatory spending cuts as part of the debt-ceiling negotiations. The Administration insisted that the cuts be divided between defense spending and domestic programs, no doubt assuming that the Republicans would never permit hundreds of billions of dollars to be removed from the Pentagon’s budget.
So far, Obama’s team has lost that bet. It seems that the Republicans who control the House of Representatives believe that sequestration is the only way to force some spending cuts on the Federal behemoth, so they are willing to let it happen.
I couldn’t agree with them more. During the last big tax-cut battle, doing nothing meant raising taxes for everyone. The Republicans got what they thought was the best possible compromise in the New Year’s Day fiscal cliff deal. The bargain retained the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for all but families earning $450,000 a year or more.
But today, doing nothing means that some spending cuts will be enacted. Since a majority of Congress seems to be incapable of agreeing on any plan to cut spending, how else is it going to happen?
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