Sequestion: An Inconvenient Truth
American journalism is in decline. In order to become better informed, it used to be that unaware citizens could depend on an unbiased free press to accurately report the facts.
No more. That is a thing of the past. Media reporting on sequestration is an example of the decline in factuality.
Political polarization rules today’s journalism. Accuracy is the ultimate casualty.
The concept of sequestration is as vague as its name sounds.
Based on politics alone, just about everything you will read or hear about it is exaggerated or inaccurate. Some little known facts:
- Sequestration imposes spending caps, not spending cuts
- The federal budget will still increase in size, not decrease
- The CBO now estimates sequestration will reduce 2013 spending by just $42 billion
- The 2013 spending cap reduction is only 1.2% of the total federal budget
- Federal government over-payments alone ($115 billion) exceeds sequestration
And that is only the tip of the iceberg.
Here is the kicker… across-the-board cuts don’t even kick in until AFTER the spending caps for the year have been exceeded. That might not be until August this year.
Under the sequester, the White House Office of Management and Budget decides the specific reductions made within each department.
A $42 billion spending cut sounds like a lot, but is a drop in the bucket compared with 2013’s estimated $3.55 trillion budget. The federal budget still grows every year.
Spending caps apply mostly to discretionary spending. Non-discretionary entitlements are not touched. Reports of draconian “meat cleaver” cuts resulting in 700,000 jobs lost and widespread reductions in services are greatly exaggerated.
Unreported is that by eliminating government over-payments alone, every single reported service or job reduction is avoided. Also, tens of billion more would be left over each year to be used to pay for new services.
Under any conditions, spending reductions this year due to sequestration are either minimal or totally unnecessary.
Republicans and Sequestration
Contrary to news reports, Republicans are not to blame for sequestration.
Watergate icon Bob Woodward finally set the record strait just last weekend.
- House Republicans twice passed and sent an alternative to sequestration to the Senate
- The Democratic-controlled Senate, as is the hallmark of the Harry Reid era, did nothing!
- In 2011, President Obama said that he’d veto any bill that altered sequestration
- The Administration, not Republicans, originally proposed sequestration
Woodward reported that President Obama is now “moving the goal posts” by proposing more tax increases to pay for sequestration when that was not the deal he made.
Speaking about sequestration to Republicans after the failure of the “super committee”, President Obama at first said:
My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.
– President Obama, 11/21/2011
Last week, targeting Republicans, President Obama suddenly changed his tune on sequestration:
Republicans in Congress face a simple choice: Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and health care and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations? That’s the choice.
– President Obama, 2/19/2013
The New York Times today reported that prisoners were released from federal custody because of sequestration. Law-abiding citizens have already been put at unnecessary risk because of a tiny projected reduction in a massive 2013 budget.
That decision brings out an important point. The Executive Branch makes the call where final spending reductions get made; not the Congress and certainly not the Republicans.
By playing political favorites, the national media helped paint a false doom-and-gloom perception of sequestration that justified the prisoner release.
The soul purpose of the sequester is to nudge a reluctant federal government onto the long road back to fiscal responsibility. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The Executive Branch can chose to put citizens at-risk by releasing prisoners long before a minor projected reduction is necessary, or can chose to target federal over-payments to reduce wasteful spending and prevent reductions all together.
Lacking a watchdog press, the Obama Administration picked maximizing pain for political gain.