To hear President Barack Obama tell it, we should begin feeling something like the apocalypse today.
Sorry, Mr. President, but most of us have already shrugged our shoulders. We have become so accustomed to near-misses, last-minute deals and cans being kicked down the road that we don't get very excited anymore.
You say the restrooms won't work at Acadia, some federal workers will work four days rather than five and an aircraft carrier is stuck in Norfolk?
The federal sequestration that goes into effect this morning will cut $85 billion from this year's $3.6 trillion budget, or about 2.3 percent.
But it is very difficult for the average person to determine what that means, and politicians aren't making it any easier.
Obama has been barnstorming the country predicting that the "brutal" cuts will "eviscerate" government programs.
Republicans, meanwhile, point out that federal spending has increased 17 percent since the president first took office and even after the cuts the government will spend more than it did the year before.
Indeed, these cuts will only slow the growth of the federal debt, not reduce it.
Consider the U.S. Department of Transportation, which received $75 billion in 2011 and then $89 billion in 2012, an increase of $14 billion.
Yet, when confronted with a mere $600 million cut, Secretary Ray LaHood threw up his hands and said he will start by furloughing air traffic controllers and there will be flight delays.
You would think he might start with something like trimming janitorial services or landscaping.
That he doesn't could lead a cynical person to wonder whether LaHood was selecting cuts to have the maximum rather than minimum impact on travelers.
The military would be required to slice 8 percent of its civilian workforce, which sounds significant. But that budget line has expanded by 21 percent since 2002, perhaps because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Businesses all over the country have cut budgets and payroll during the recession. The Pentagon should certainly be able to downsize its civilian workforce by 8 percent. We shrank the military by 44 percent after World War II.
The biggest problem with sequestration isn't what it does, but what it fails to do: restructure entitlements and taxes.
Republicans now say "the president got his tax increase," last year's rate bump for wealthy individuals.
Republicans seem to be saying there is no more revenue to be raised or expenses to be cut by examining the vast array of government tax breaks and subsidies. That's absurd.
Consider, for instance, the "carried interest" tax break that allows partners in billion-dollar hedge funds to pay the low capital gains tax rate rather than the higher income tax rate on their compensation.
That this tax break hasn't been repealed owes only to massive campaign contributions and the influence they have over both Republicans and Democrats in Congress
There is no way the national debt can be contained in the long run without making gradual, long-term changes in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, yet those programs are untouched by the sequestration cuts.
Ultimately, the Democratic administration will try to make the sequestration cuts as painful and obvious to the public as possible.
Republicans, meanwhile, will minimize the impact and blame Democrats for any dislocations that result.
The rest of us, weary of lurching from one disaster to another, will watch with resignation and disdain as our broken Congress continues to flounder.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.