Born in the bowels of the Obama administration and blamed on Republicans the Sequester has been deemed everything from a form of Armageddon to a tempest in a teapot. The reality is it is neither although it more like the second than the first.
For all the hoopla the 2% cut in government spending is not even really 2%. The cutback on next years already bloated budget plan is in actuality nearer to 1% . Even if it was a full 2%, that is far less than what is needed to start to bring government spending under control. Those that have claimed economic disaster over this infinitesimally small cut in federal spending need a reality check. The impact of the cuts on the economy will be less than that of a gnat on an elephant. Still the nature of government is to make mountains out of molehills or more appropriately create a mountain when a molehill will do.
Governments and their agencies tend to create as much havoc as possible whenever cuts in spending are forced on them. One infamous strategy employed by municipalities is to threaten to cut police and fire whenever new taxes are sought. This same strategy is now being used by the federal government on a grand scale. The Sequester itself was designed to create as much impact as possible out of a minuscule budget cut but its agencies are multiplying the effect by threatening everything from food inspection to airport travel. The Department of Transportation for example is saying the only way to deal with a 1.4% cut in planned spending is to reduce air traffic controllers and back up flights at airports. The fact is all of the so called cut could be absorbed by cracking down on waste but that of course would not gain public attention. The only exception to the over-hype might be the military which is taking the brunt of the “cut.”
The military, like all bureaucracies, is far from being efficient. Add to this that most of its budget is non-discretionary, IE: most of its spending is allocated by congress for specific purposes, its wiggle room is more limited than most people realize. Although a large well planned reduction could be done with little impact on operations a small sudden arbitrary reduction can make a sizable impact. That said, the military is also gaming the cuts to make them seem much much worse; especially given their overall budget will increase even under Sequester.
Little of this is making it through the media hype, the storyline being sold is that disaster awaits if the Sequester is implemented. A storyline that fits right into Obama’s plan. A plan meant to make it seem like any cut in government and its spending is irresponsible.
President Obama’s team has in essence sold the Republicans on a poison pill that puts Obama in a win-win situation. If they cave to the President and increase taxes and spending they betray their constituency and move the country towards financial collapse. If they hold the line they risk being blamed for all the misery the administration decides to dish out. Either way they will help advance the real goal behind Obama’s Sequestration idea which is to put into the public mind that cuts in government spending is neither practical nor desirable.
The President has played the Sequestration game superbly so far. Taking advantage of Republican over exuberance he got them to take his Sequestration bait hook line and sinker. During the campaign he blatantly lied and called the idea a Republican one, something he knew might stick with great unwashed middle even if he was called out on it later. With the world economy now on the verge of a renewed recession, he and his media allies are poised to blame this on the “Republican Sequester” as well. Something that is merely frosting on Obama’s poisonous cake. Presently he is poised to spring this trap and leave Republicans scratching their collective heads. A great strategy masterfully played to the detriment of the country and its posterity.
One could hope that the Republicans could plan a way around the trap laid before them. Unfortunately, that might be wishful for a party that could not even put a glass of water within arms reach of its State of the Union spokesman. The truth is the answer to the question “Is Sequester much ado or much ado about nothing?” is yes.
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