February 28 2013
Don't Armageddon My America
Like Charlotte, I am very concerned about the end of the world rhetoric surrounding the sequester, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow. Yesterday, the Washington Posts’ Karen Tumulty and Lyndsey Layton explained that the Administration is still circulating erroneous information regarding the effects of the cuts, despite having been corrected on the points in question:
Take the claim by Education Secretary Arne Duncan that there are “literally teachers now who are getting pink slips.”
When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to name an example, Duncan came up with one school district, in West Virginia, and he acknowledged, “Whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.”
As it turns out, it isn’t. What Kanawha County is actually doing is sending transfer notices to 104 educators in response to an unrelated change in the way federal dollars are allocated.
“It’s not like we’re cutting people’s jobs at this point,” said Pam Padon, who administers the county’s federal aid for poor students. “This is not due to sequestration.”
Despite the reams of fact sheets the White House has been putting out, no one really knows how bad things are likely to get...
It is ridiculous to imply the world is going to end if we reduce spending by two percent. The sequester cuts roughly $85 billion from approximately $3.5 trillion in spending. And because the sequester cuts the growth of spending, spending will rise still $2.4 trillion in the coming years, even under the sequester.
If the President believes Armageddon is about to take place, then why is he waiting until tomorrow – the day of the sequester – to meet with Congressional leaders about compromise? Could the president want a sequester – the very sequester he designed and vowed to veto any attempt to repeal?
This leaves the public to draw one of two conclusions. Either the president really believes what he is saying, or he knows cutting 2 percent of the federal budget will not ruin America, but doesn't intend to let that stop him from scoring political points by frightening people. This is a volley in the president’s ongoing battle to stop Republicans from reforming entitlements, which, ironically, will go broke without changes.
Thus, it is very likely we will have a sequester tomorrow, but the discussion will be far from over. In fact, we could continue to debate this far into the spring. Alexander Bolton at The Hill predicts, "Lawmakers and aides say they do not expect Congress to turn off budget sequestration before April and that negotiations to freeze the automatic spending cuts could drag into May or beyond."
Buckle up America. Washington is doing everything possible to procrastinate any real reform. But then again, that is nothing new.