Boy. Listening to the caterwauling from Obama and some Republicans over the impending sequester, one would think this is the result of magic and forces beyond human control. If I did not know better I would swear this is what the Mayan prophets had in mind when the warned about the end of the long cycle.
First we have this pathetic spectacle from Barky Obama:
So, let me get this straight–Obama proposed the sequester and now he thinks its a bad idea? Cry me a river.
But Obama is not alone in the hypocrisy weeping. Here’s John Boehner in today’s Wall Street Journal:
The sequester is a wave of deep spending cuts scheduled to hit on March 1. Unless Congress acts, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will occur this year, with another $1.1 trillion coming over the next decade. There is nothing wrong with cutting spending that much—we should be cutting even more—but the sequester is an ugly and dangerous way to do it.
By law, the sequester focuses on the narrow portion of the budget that funds the operating accounts for federal agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense. Exempt is most entitlement spending—the large portion of the budget that is driving the nation’s looming debt crisis. Should the sequester take effect, America’s military budget would be slashed nearly half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Border security, law enforcement, aviation safety and many other programs would all have diminished resources.
How did the country find itself in this mess?
During the summer of 2011, as Washington worked toward a plan to reduce the deficit to allow for an increase in the federal debt limit, President Obama and I very nearly came to a historic agreement. Unfortunately our deal fell apart at the last minute when the president demanded an extra $400 billion in new tax revenue—50% more than we had shaken hands on just days before.
Boehner’s lament falls short in this regard–the Republicans agreed to the stupid deal. This was not a unilateral move by Obama. He was enabled by unprincipled Republicans.
Both Obama and Boehner are completely and totally delusional with their hysterics and dire warnings. It would be one thing if we were talking about a 20% cut in annual spending. But we are not. The actual number is 2.3%. When your Federal budget is in excess of 3 trillion dollars and you are proposing not spending 85 billion, the reality is far from draconian.
And the number of programs exempted from sequestration is sizable (source, Congressional Research Service):
• Social Security benefits (old-age, survivors, and disability) and Tier 1 Railroad Retirement benefits.
• All programs administered by the VA, and special benefits for certain World War II veterans.17
• Net interest (budget function 900).
• Payments to individuals in the form of refundable tax credits.18
• Unobligated balances, carried over from prior years, for nondefense programs.
• At the President’s discretion (subject to notification to Congress), military personnel accounts may be exempt entirely, or a lower sequestration percentage may apply.19
• A list of “other” budget accounts and activities; readers should consult the statute for a complete list. A few selected examples include
• activities resulting from private donations, bequests or voluntary contributions, or financed by voluntary payments for good or services;
• advances to the Unemployment Trust Fund;20
￼• payments to various retirement, health care, and disability trust funds;
• certain Tribal and Indian trust accounts; and
• Medical Facilities Guaranty and Loan Fund.
• Specified federal retirement and disability accounts and activities (consult the statute for the complete list).
• Prior legal obligations of the federal government in specified budget accounts (consult the statute for the complete list).21
• Low-income programs, including
• Academic Competitiveness/Smart Grant Program;22
• mandatory funding under the Child Care and Development Fund;
• Child Nutrition Programs (including School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food, and others, but excluding Special Milk);
• Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
• Commodity Supplemental Food Program;
• Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the TANF Contingency Fund;
• Family Support Programs;23
• Federal Pell Grants;
• Foster Care and Permanency Programs;
• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps); and
• Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
• Medicare Part D low-income premium and cost-sharing subsidies; Medicare Part D catastrophic subsidy payments; and Qualified Individual (QI) premiums.
• Specified economic recovery programs, including GSE Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements, the Office of Financial Stability, and the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
• The following “split-treatment” programs, to the extent that the programs’ budgetary resources are subject to obligations limitations in appropriations bills:
￼• Federal Aid-Highways;
• Highway Traffic Safety Grants;
• Operations and Research NHTSA and National Driver Register;
• Motor Carrier Safety Operations and Programs;
• Motor Carrier Safety Grants;
• Formula and Bus Grants; and
• Grants-in-Aid for Airports
When you look at the Department of Defense budget, you have to ask yourself, “what is wrong with Republicans?”
For Fiscal Year 2012, the total spent on Defense, which included intelligence activities, exceeded 1 trillion dollar. This is an outrageous, egregious, bloated number. Republicans and Democrats share the blame for boosting the civilian workforce being employed under the rubric of “defense” and “intelligence.” For example, we do not need a National Counter Terrorism Center. That is an agency that serves no useful purpose other than to give a bunch of white people white collar jobs. Setting that organization up was a political gesture in the wake of the horror of September 11, 2001. Their work is redundant and totally lacking in originality and creativity. They have no operational role whatsoever. Yet, God help the politician who dares to call this bloat of government excess to task.
(And, I would appreciate your help. I am searching, in vain so far, for a link/reference for the size of the civilian work force at the Department of Defense. If you have some info please post below. It has grown under Obama, not shrunk. Want to have the facts.)
So, with reference to the sequester. Bring it on. It will do us good. In fact, the fear of the politicians on both sides is that the public will discover that cuts can be made and the world does not end. Exposing that fact will put greater pressure on them to get spending in check.
UPDATE–And for you Obama trolls who want to deny reality, suck on this:
Senator Max Baucus (D., Mont.) admitted to the local CBS station in Billings, Mont., that President Obama bears responsibility for the sequester: “The president’s part of the sequester. The White House recommended it, frankly, back in August 2011. And so now we’re feeling the effects of it. Now I don’t want to say the president’s solely to blame; he’s not not. It’s both the president and the Congress, the president and the speaker, who put together this deal.”
Hell, even NPR concedes that Obama proposed the gimmick:
Though Obama proposed the idea, it’s unlike Obamacare — which received no GOP House votes. Indeed, 174 House Republicans, a majority of the majority, joined 95 Democrats to pass the plan in that body. So Republicans arguably own the sequester as much as Obama, if not more so, since Obama never wanted to link spending cuts to the debt ceiling.