What if we rather considered this a sudden boon in terms of freed up resources for the good? How about picturing the move from swords to plowshares? We seem to be spending more than half of our tax revenues on military stuff and that has been increasing by about 9 percent per year.
Sequestration Nation? Department of Defense schools stillhaven't learned the extend of the effects of sequestration cuts, a fact that has rankled DoD teachers and families across the globe, we report. DoD schools across the globe could face up to 22 days of furloughs, but the body that governs these schools is still figuring it out. Some teachers want to find other cuts. "It seems odd that we're told we're mission-essential, but now, we can suddenly be furloughed," one teacher in the UK told me.
It isn't Social Security and Medicare that are killing other social programs, but Republican refusal to support them. The ratio of public debt to GDP is roughly stable for the next decade. If we begin making cuts now, whether in Social Security and Medicare, or in other outlays, we will slow the recovery. That will only worsen the debt ratio over the long term, and at a depressed level of economic output. Republicans do resist higher taxes, but at times Democrats have prevailed in raising taxes on the rich -- with the full support of the voters. President Clinton managed it in 1993, and even President Obama, though he settled for too skimpy a bargain, got Republicans to vote for a $630 billion tax hike on the top one percent last January. Faced with a choice of cuts in Social Security and Medicare or tax increases on the wealthy, polls show that most voters opt for the taxes.
Paul Ryan introduced his version of the Republican budget this week, and it seems Ryan has agreed that two or three of President Obama's biggest budget victories actually do significantly cut the deficit, and are therefore worth including in the Republican plans for the future.
As expected, Obama's "second honeymoon" in the polls is starting to fade. The election is long over, the inauguration is fading from memory, and now the real legislative struggles of Obama's second term have begun.
The sequestration's full effects are not all clear, but it will severely impede scientific progress across the country, along with various public health programs.
The New York Times reports, "The sword of Damocles turns out to be made of Styrofoam." But the sword feels much sharper for families, advocates, and local officials who rely on government funding to treat and care for those with mental illness.
In assessing the budget that Ryan will release this week, the issue is not whether it's harsher than last year's proposal but whether it continues to adhere to the same extreme approach that he has embraced in prior budgets.
The sequester is simply more proof that our government is putting bank bailouts, military contracts and corporate tax loopholes above the needs of their constituents. And it will only get worse until we throw them out.
Sequestration will indeed be catastrophic: catastrophic at least for homeless and low income people who are caught between a market that cannot provide housing they can afford, and a government that cannot balance its books.
This is the question the Republicans want to avoid: "What would you cut instead?" Because when the rubber meets the road, they refuse to answer that question. They want budget cuts that nobody can see where they came from, and that magically protect Republicans from harm.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have dug themselves into a deep and narrow chasm whose walls are about to close in. In a matter of weeks, they may find themselves squeezed mercilessly between their implacable right wing and constituents feeling the pain of sequestration.
Happy Sequester Month! It's about time we talk about this sequester thing. But, what is it? It's confusin' to all of America... and that's Obama's plan. No one really knows what cuts are goin' to be made, we just know we're cuttin'.
Every time Republicans mention a "spending crisis," we should remind them that our non-military spending is at historic lows (to say nothing of the fact that they were the ones who busted the federal budget with tax breaks for the rich, and who blocked the only path to significant cost savings, single payer health care.) It would help, as well, to be more forceful in driving home the message that the government spends (wastes) a lot more on tax breaks for the rich than assistance for the poor. The federal government spends about twice as much on the mortgage interest deduction, for example, than low income housing, and provides most of the mortgage interest gift to upper income people who don't need it. Is it really necessary to spend federal dollars (via tax expenditures) subsidizing multi-million dollar second homes?
The big news in Washington "journalism" circles this week was not the side issue of "did Obama personally come up with the sequester idea?" but the side-side issue of "did Obama personally take Bob Woodward out to the woodshed and beat him mercilessly with a tire iron?" Or something like that...
On the dawn of sequestration, Republicans are still in deep disagreement over how it will affect our military, and in even deeper disagreement over how to handle it. One thing they do seem to agree on, though, is that they aren't willing to close corporate tax loopholes to avoid it.