March 1 2013

Hello There, Armageddon

Charlotte Hays

Welcome to Armageddon. Does the world still exist?

The sequester went into effect last night at midnight.

One sign that the world didn’t end the is that Mona Charen is still writing and able to greet the sequester with confidence:

Responding to the Obama administration’s operatic warnings of catastrophe for meals on wheels for the elderly, Head Start, meat inspections, air-traffic controllers, police, fire fighters, and 911 operators if the government reduces the rate of increase of federal spending by 2 percentage points, radio host Chris Plante offered the following suggestion: “Since this 2 percent obviously covers all essential government spending, let’s cut the other 98 percent!”…

Another way to think about it is this: In 2007, the government was 40 percent smaller than it is today. Were poor people sleeping under bridges? Were the elderly starving? Were planes grounded? Was food unsafe to eat?

Here’s another question: Are Americans really this gullible? The president’s doom-saying is so absurd that a mature country would hoot him off the stage. As it is, the housebroken media credulously report his obviously partisan scare-mongering as fact.

We don’t know how the sequester is going to play out, but we do know two things: 1.) it may be the only way to get any cuts in spending in President Obama’s Washington, and 2.) the president remains committed to making it painful, if he can avoid the blame.

The GOP tried to pass a bill giving the president more discretion to make the mandated cuts less painful but he said he would veto the bill. The Wall Street Journal sums up the president’s position:  

President Obama's goal, by contrast, is not to cut any spending in the here and now, only sometime in the "out years," to use the Washington phrase, presumably when he'll be out of office. That's the only way to comprehend the White House statement Thursday that the President will veto any Republican bill to give him more flexibility to minimize any sequester damage.

We think the President already has more than enough authority to avoid harm to air traffic control, national parks and the like, as we wrote earlier this week ("The Sequester Revelation," February 27). We wish Republicans like Paul Ryan would say so. But in any case House Republicans are offering to give Mr. Obama even more flexibility, yet the President won't take yes for an answer.

Mull that one over: The President wants to deny himself and his executive branch the authority to do less harm. Don't stop me before I kill again.

The Left’s hysteria over 2.2 percent cuts in a bloated government is delicious. I may be eating the words if the president really does find a way to make it painful, but you gotta love  California Rep. Maxine Waters’ claim that the sequester could cost 170 million jobs. As Charles Cooke points out in National Review there are 134 million people with jobs in the U.S.

Charles Krauthammer has a must-read piece headlined “Hail Armageddon.” It begins with a quote from a lobbyist who opposes budget cuts and who said, ““The worst-case scenario for us it that the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens.”

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 fire truck — the people scream and the city council falls silent about any future cuts.

Assuming the world doesn't end by noon, the sequester could end up being the best thing President Obama has done so far.

 

 

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