Budget sequestration: What if "the sky doesn't fall"?

Hail Armageddon


“The worst-case scenario for us,” a leading anti-budget-cuts lobbyist told The Post, “is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens.”

Think about that. Worst case? That a government drowning in debt should cut back by 2.2 percent — and the country survives. That a government now borrowing 35 cents of every dollar it spends reduces that borrowing by two cents “and nothing bad really happens.” Oh, the humanity!

A normal citizen might think this a good thing. For reactionary liberalism, however, whatever sum our ever-inflating government happens to spend today (now double what Bill Clinton spent in his last year) is the Platonic ideal — the reduction of which, however minuscule, is a national calamity.

Or damn well should be. Otherwise, people might get the idea that we can shrink government and live on.

Hence the president’s message. If the “sequestration” — automatic spending cuts — goes into effect, the skies will fall. Plane travel jeopardized, carrier groups beached, teachers furloughed. And a shortage of junk-touching TSA agents.

The Obama administration has every incentive to make the sky fall, lest we suffer that terrible calamity — cuts the nation survives. Are they threatening to pare back consultants, conferences, travel and other nonessential fluff? Hardly. It shall be air-traffic control. Meat inspection. Weather forecasting.

A 2011 Government Accountability Office report gave a sampling of the vastness of what could be cut, consolidated and rationalized in Washington: 44 overlapping job training programs, 18 for nutrition assistance, 82 (!) on teacher quality, 56 dealing with financial literacy, more than 20 for homelessness, etc. Total annual cost: $100 billion-$200 billion, about two to five times the entire domestic sequester.

Are these on the chopping block? No sir. It’s firemen first. That’s the phrase coined in 1976 by legendary Washington Monthly editor Charlie Peters to describe the way government functionaries beat back budget cuts. Dare suggest a nick in the city budget, and the mayor immediately shuts down the firehouse. The DMV back office, stacked with nepotistic incompetents, remains intact. Shrink it and no one would notice. Sell the firetruck — the people scream and the city council falls silent about any future cuts.

After all, the sequester is just one-half of 1 percent of GDP. It amounts to 1.4 cents on the dollar of nondefense spending, 2 cents overall.

Because of this year’s payroll tax increase, millions of American workers have had to tighten their belts by precisely 2 percent. They found a way. Washington, spending $3.8 trillion, cannot? If so, we might as well declare bankruptcy now and save the attorneys’ fees.
Comment: See The Sequestration Boogeyman. The sun will rise tomorrow!


  1. Relevant: AP Exclusive: DHS released over 2,000 immigrants

    The Homeland Security Department released from its jails more than 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation in recent weeks due to looming budget cuts and planned to release 3,000 more during March, The Associated Press has learned.

    The newly disclosed figures, cited in internal budget documents reviewed by the AP, are significantly higher than the "few hundred" illegal immigrants the Obama administration acknowledged this week had been released under the budget-savings process.

  2. More relevant: Executives Feared 'Cliff' Much More

    In December, with the "fiscal cliff" looming, a stream of executives poured into Washington armed with budget briefing books and suggested solutions. This week, as the deadline approached for across-the-board federal spending cuts, the response has been muted.

    Some businessmen aren't as worried about the effects of the sequester, as the cuts are known, or prefer them to new tax increases being pushed by the White House as an alternative. Others also see little chance of influencing the outcome in Congress, given their experience during the fractious fiscal-cliff debate last year, in which their counsel didn't count for much.

    "Quite frankly, we think most of America is getting a little tired of hearing about some of the dysfunction" in Washington, said Kurt McNeil, General Motors vice president of U.S. sales operations, during a conference call Friday discussing monthly sales. "We think the fundamentals—housing, access to credit—are strong, and that's what's important and that's what's driving the economy."

  3. More relevant: Unraveling Navy's Decision on USS Truman

    My take-away .... probably not related to sequestration but others may disagree

  4. Another article ... same vein as first:

    World Doesn't End, Obama Hardest Hit -
    The sequester apocalypse evolves into a 'slow grind.'

    Normal Americans awoke Friday to find that the veneer of civilization had not fallen away. If the federal government does end up spending $44.8 trillion over the next decade instead of $46 trillion, they may not notice at all.


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