So now that sequestration is closer to reality, we are seeing an alternative narrative being created. Instead of it being Obama's fault, the oppositional narrative is that "the cuts are so small, no one will really be hurt by them" and "Obama, like all liberals, simply can't stand cuts to the big government they think we all have." See? The argument went from the cuts are "devastating" and "harsh" and they are all Obama's fault to the cuts are only 2.3% of our deficit and any cuts is better than no cuts and that Obama is "lying" about the negative impact it will have on our economy. Have you been paying attention to this sudden political pivot?
So what's your point Rubin, it's going to happen and we just have to deal with it. My point is that sequestration is symbolic of what is wrong in Washington. Under Article II, the president has NO authority to enact budgets, only Congress can do so. When Obama suggested sequestration, it was made in an effort to force the hand of Congress to move forward on real budget measures. Congress on the other hand, PASSED the Budget Control Act of 2011 into law. Under the Act, Congress was required to create a budget that would avoid sequestration. How come no one seems to make this clear to the public? Setting aside the cuts under sequestration, the mere fact we are facing sequestration is indicative that Congress is unable to agree to anything! So what do some in Congress do instead? Take to the airwaves and point fingers of responsibility at each other!
Now that the cuts appear inevitable, members of the GOP are claiming "they won't be as bad as Obama has declared." Recognizing sequestration is going to happen, the GOP is trying to minimize the negativity and paint Obama as some kind of "Chicken Little" making much to do about nothing. According to Right Wing pundits, including George Will, "Obama, who believes government spends money more constructively than do those who earn it, warns that the sequesters budgetary nicks, amounting to 1% of the gross national product, will derail the economy." "The real choice today is between bigger or smaller unintelligent government." If this was true, then why did a bi-partisan group of Governors attending the National Governors Association's 2013 Winter Meeting just come out opposing the cuts? (see Associated Press, 2/24/2013). Which is it folks? Will mandatory cuts hurt or are they so small we will simply move beyond this "fabricated" crisis created by Liberals?
According to the Office of Management and Budget ("OMB"), sequestration will slash spending as follows; "Aircraft purchases by the Air Force and Navy are cut by $3.5 billion; Military operations across the services are cut by about $13.5 billion; Military research is cut by $6.3 billion; The National Institutes of Health get cut by $1.6 billion; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are cut by about $323 million; Border security is cut by about $581 million; Immigration enforcement is cut by about $323 million; Airport security is cut by about $323 million; Head Start gets cut by $406 million, kicking 70,000 kids out of the program; FEMA’s disaster relief budget is cut by $375 million; Public housing support is cut by about $1.94 billion; The FDA is cut by $206 million; NASA gets cut by $970 million; Special education is cut by $840 million; The Energy Department’s program for securing our nukes is cut by $650 million; The National Science Foundation gets cut by about $388 million; The FBI gets cut by $480 million; The federal prison system gets cut by $355 million; State Department diplomatic functions are cut by $650 million; Global health programs are cut by $433 million; the Millenium Challenge Corp. sees a $46 million cut, and USAID a cut of about $291 million; The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is cut by $55 million; The SEC is cut by $75.6 million; The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is cut by $2.6 million; The Library of Congress is cut by $31 million; The Patent and Trademark office is cut by $156 million." The Congressional Budget Office ("CBO") predicts upwards of 1 million jobs will be lost as a result of sequestration. Just what our fragile economy does not need!
You are intelligent enough to interpret what these cuts mean, so I am not going to itemize each of them with commentary. They are though, not"minor" and "insignificant" as those on the Right claim them to be. Once again we are seeing the predictable course of political narratives. When you begin to lose the high ground, pivot to another. Which gets me to my last point. As soon as these cuts go into effect, expect the GOP in Congress to immediately introduce Bills reinstating spending for the military, yet leaving the cuts in place for social programs. This will be done in an obvious attempt to paint Democrats as "soft" on defense and "strong" on social programs that assist the "takers" in our society through "big government." By pushing this agenda, they will again assert the narrative that President Obama is a "pandering, dishonest, socialist interested in re-shaping America to be more like a European nation" (and we now know how well things are working out for European nations these days). What really is happening is the inaction by Congress to address the real long-term needs for economic reform. Instead of initially placing blame for sequestration and then claiming it won't be that bad, Congress should be addressing reforms to our tax code, immigration laws, and entitlements. Instead of taking more vacations, they should be working to remedy the obvious problems facing our nation. Wouldn't it be nice if our political leaders did as much work as they do complaining? As we enter baseball's Spring Training, perhaps it is best for Americans to demand our leaders take the field of leadership and go to work! Like Spring Training, all Americans should cry loud and clear to our elected officials, "PLAY BALL!"