Hold your seat, the apocalypse now under way

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?

Yeah, whatever.

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.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.

Advertisement

Comments

Amedeo Lauria's picture

With a few exceptions...

great article that reflects what many people are thinking in America. We have a "Chicken Little" administration and we are getting weary of listening. These gloom and doom, offer up sacred cows instead of waste for cuts, is done from the town level all the way up the chain. While pet projects and overblown salaries prevail.

I blame this on those in public trust who gave away our money like drunken sailors (no offense) during the good times, and now have to pay up and are turning on the blame thrower and trying to over complicate what is a simple process. Pitting one group against the other to keep Americans off balance; while at the same time hoping to cobble together a constituency that will re-elect them.

Cut bloated governmental budgets and put it back in the hands of those who need it to heat and light their homes.

Excellent analysis!

Steve  Dosh's picture

Hold your seat, the apocalypse now under way

Ed. ƒlyday 11 am i sh ?
Nice editorial :)
Beam me up, Yoda: Obama won't do 'Jedi mind meld'
By DARLENE SUPERVILLE Associated Press The Associated Press
Friday, March 1, 2013 3:25 PM EST ?
WASHINGTON (AP) — He's not a dictator and won't entertain the idea of a "Jedi mind meld" with opponents. There's no "secret formula or special sauce" he can slip foes to make them see things his way. And not to worry, he says, the situation may look dire but won't be an "apocalypse." ref:
http://www.hawaiiantel.net/news/read.php?rip_id=%3CDA4OGKH80%40news.ap.o...
/s, Steve ;D

Jason Theriault's picture

Why the big deal.

Everytime I hear about how people think this is overblown, I have to point out that a majority of the budget faces no cuts. SSI and Medicaid have no cuts, and and medicare faces a small one(2%).

So the 40 billion ish this year for non-DoD stuff hits like 600 billion in programs. And the DoD gets hammered. And every dollar you take out of the government for these programs is a dollar you take out of the economy.

Do we have to make cuts?
Yes

Is this the way to do it?
No.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

I hope the republicans have

I hope the republicans have the intestinal fortitude to see sequestration through to completion; that is, I hope they don’t strike a deal with democrats after the fact.

Moreover, I’m hoping sequestration will demonstrate the world will not end if the government cuts spending.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Kudos to the White House for

Kudos to the White House for the idea.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I hope they don't back down too.....

If the Tea Party goes thru with this farce, maybe it will be just the ticket to once and for all derail the Republican Party. After all, Hanity and his friends at Fox, seems to think this is great. That alone should send any intelligent person running. You know the Right is going to crash and burn, I just hope their all kicked out of office, kind of like emptying the "Congressional Kitty Litter Box"......

 's picture

Delusional.

Obama proposed this "farce", Republicans called his bluff, and BHO went on a cross-country whining tour to explain to us how bad his proposal is. I agree, Mr. President. It's lousy governing and you own it.

The Tea Party is not the issue. Neither is FOX News. The issue is, once again, our illustrious president doin' the ol' shunk'n'jive, and refusing to take responsibility for his own actions. Don't overestimate the alleged intelligence of all those people running, like lemmings, over the cliff created by the far left.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

This guy doesn't even take

This guy doesn't even take responsibility for what he flushes down the toilet.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Ownership

The Democrats' plan to avoid Sequestration got 52 votes in the Senate. That should have been enough to pass it but the Republicans fillibustered it. They can sputter all they want about how sequestration is Obama's plan but budgets originate in the Congress not with the president and the Republicans own this fillibuster. Anybody who can read will be smart enough to know who owns this folly.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The Democrat’s plan was to

The Democrat’s plan was to raise taxes, which, thank God, was summarily rejected.

 's picture

There is no budget.

Every attempt to create one over the past four years has been ignored by the Senate. Yes, Republicans could filibuster one there, but not it the "leadership" doesn't allow it to come up, and that led directly to the sequester, born of frustration that Democrats wouldn't allow anything better to happen. The idea came from Obama, his minions presented it to the House, the Republicans called his bluff and passed it, the Senate followed suit, much to Obama's surprise. He could have vetoed it, but he didn't, so now he's eating the crow pie that he baked. If he doesn't like the taste, he should get out of the kitchen.

That said, I agree that he will likely get away with it. Not because of all those "smart" people, but because of the burgeoning low-information crowd who, no matter what he does, will always kiss his ... ring.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The lower echelon mammals of

The lower echelon mammals of our country have become the ruling class.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

The house gave Obama what he

The house gave Obama what he asked for...live with it.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Let's see. If you think a 2%

Let's see. If you think a 2% cut in spending will end life as we know it, god help.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I dunno, Mark, you take $23

I dunno, Mark, you take $23 bucks out of the pocket of a guy earning $1000 bucks a week, he's hurtin', man. 0O:-)

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Common sense

It is interesting that EVERYBODY, and I mean EVERYBODY from the CBO to every economic expert that exists has said over and over that this sequestration is bad for the economy and for the military and for the American people. Yet I hear people defending it. It makes you wonder what they are drinking. We have devolved into a people who don't care what happens to the country or to our neighbor or our community as long as our personal ox isn't getting gored and our idealogical "principles" , unrelated to reality as they may be, are intact. Maybe it will take a real taste of austerity for the country to wake up to reality and start to act in a way that benefits their community. Personally I would have thought the crash of 2008 would have registered with more people and we wouldn't have to go through that again.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

" We have devolved into a

" We have devolved into a people who don't care what happens to the country"....
You have only to look towards our leadership in Washington for that inspiration.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

If not now Claire, then when?

If not now Claire, then when? Ostensibly, any budget cut will negatively impact someone, but we are okay with that. The planet will continue to orbit the sun....

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The planets

That's terrific if the only thing you care about is the planets. Reality, however, dictates that not everybody is able bodied enough to keep themselves afloat economically in any society, Some of us actually cherish the elderly, the children and even like the sick and the poor and we want them to have a good life. Not out of mushy sentimentality but because that is also a sign of a thriving community. People living in cardboard boxes and panhandling and abandoned properties generally signal a community in decay. Reality also shows us that businesses thrive in a community that invests in progress while the only businesses that thrive in communities that don't are businesses that are cannabalistic in the sense that they take more from the community through starvation wages, pollution of the environment, harsh and dangerous working conditions, corrupting of local officials and monopolizing of the community resources than they give back. That is not to say that our tax dollars coudn't be spent more wisely. Nothing of the kind will result from this idiotic Sequestration which is just another bunch of rich guys ripping us off again.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“Nothing of the kind will

“Nothing of the kind will result from this
idiotic Sequestration which is just another bunch of rich guys ripping us off
again.”

How so?

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

The rip off

Well as I look at what's being cut, the investor class has little to fear as is reflected in the stock market and the mergers going on. Who will get hit the hardest are people who work for a paycheck, which will shrink or disappear, who depend on state or municipal services, who want to borrow money for college or for a small business or to buy a home, who want to save for retirement. In other words , the middle and lower class and Walmart are those who will be most impacted, again. Cuts in the federal government rain down to the states which pass them on to the local communities. Again the poorer the community the more they will be impacted.Thankfully most of these poorer communities are in Red states. Another taste of austerity there could very well be the final nail in the Tea Party coffin.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps, but it does not have

Perhaps, but it does not have be that way. The house offered to allow more discretion on where Obama's proposed cuts come from.

In any case, the cuts will be good overall.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Here we go again trotting out

Here we go again trotting out the elderly and children as an excuse not to act – hog wash.

I don’t think anyone thinks the government can keep up the current level of spending without experiencing more devastating in the future than cutting approximately 2% from the overall budget today. Moreover, you cannot wait forever for the economy to recover previous highs since those highs were predicated on a bulb, and that bulb has popped. The here and now is the new economy – accept it and work with it.

There is enough waste in the annual budget to consume all sequestration cuts. Politicians are trying to use fear in order to keep the cash flowing into Washington. We should all reject that approach.

Sequestration appears the only way to control spending albeit minor cuts. I’m okay with that. If politicians follow through with their threats in lieu of cutting waste, vote them out of office.

The time to cut is now, not later. Once the people find out the apocalypse does not come, politicians will lose the threat leverage – another benefit of sequestration.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

They're cutting $85 billion

They're cutting $85 billion out of a $16 trillion budget. You can find that kind of change in the ashtray of your car. The whole scheme is nothing more than a bunch of oBAMA/democrat scare tactics, knowing full well that the lower echelon dum-dums will blame it all on the republicans.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

FYI: Budge for FY2013 is

FYI: Budge for FY2013 is estimated to be $3.8T.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What budget?

What budget?

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Hogwash

So the elderly and the children equal hogwash. Well I totally disagree. I believe that there are many people in a community who, while they may not be earning a paycheck or paying a lot of taxes, contribute heavily to the well being of that community. Seniors often make up the bulk of community volunteers and oftentimes provide care for sick spouses and for grandchildren so that young adults can go to work. Children who are in school learning are shaping our future and the quality of their education will determine the quality of our lives later on. Many people are poor because they are home taking care of families or someone who is handicapped or they are getting a college education in order to make a better future for themselves. Even those people who are struggling with sickness and family or emotional issues can inspire the rest of us with their courage and their strength in the face of adversity, something most people have to face at one time or another in their lives. And of course there are the brave young people who defend our freedom in the military services. These people are a rich asset to a community that is smart enough to recognize it. I am sick and tired of people who think billionaire investors are worthy of community support but these folks aren't. I'll take a handicapped child over a Halliburton CEO any day.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

This is a resounding victory

This is a resounding victory for those of us who are paying the bills.

Now let’s watch the Obama administration punish us with making cuts that are the most painful and visible; all in an attempt push the blame on Republicans.

The Republicans simply gave Obama what he wanted – sequestration; I political firecracker the blow in Obama’s face.

Better living through smaller government.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Claire ! Yes • Just don't

Claire ! Yes • Just don't become too sarcastic or cynical , okay ?
Halliburton C E O ?
Hmmm. .that wouldn't be Dead Eye Dick Cheney , the walking heart attack, ack , ack , of a VP we once had that you are referring to , now would it ? Jabba the Hut look-a-like ¿
AG Ashcroft is the one who really ticked me off
Mr. Water board \ torture chamber approver
They should have all gone to jail for their sins of ommission and commission , selective memory , dissembling , Katrina , no sense of urgency . . ..
/s, Steve :)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

How are the elderly going to

How are the elderly going to be negatively impacted by the sequestration?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Paul , How are the elderly

Paul , How are the elderly going to be positively effected by the sequestration? A: They won't •
This may help them --> http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform <-- though .
There are much larger things going on than mere ' sequestration ,' most of them very positive changes

" None so blind as those who can not see , None so deaf as those who can not hear . " /s, Dr. Dosh

MARK GRAVEL's picture

It is kind of like to boy who

It is kind of like to boy who cried wolf too many times. I don't respond any longer.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mark , Right • There was no

Mark , Right • There was no wolf ;) /s Steve

Jim Cyr's picture

Hold your seat

Mr. Rhoades, good one !!!!

 's picture

I know how to make the sequester less painful.

Ground Obama!

Air Force One airfare: $179,750 per hour

Costs for each trip are even higher when factoring in the passenger and cargo aircraft that often accompany the president's plane, although those figures weren't specified in the eight-page report.

BHO has been in full-tilt campaign mode for 4 years.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Grounding

Sorry but it looks like passenger flights and the Blue Angels are the ones who will stay on the ground. Apparently those need air traffic controllers.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Kool-Aid, anyone?

Kool-Aid, anyone?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Paul , no † y v m . This

Paul , no † y v m . This isn't Jonestown, Guyana ca. 1 9 7 5 , thank goodness , ( although i personally knew the two US State Dept counselors stationed there whose lives and carrers were negatively effected by it . We worked together in Africa ) .
It's more like --> http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ronald_Reagan%27s_ultimatum_to_striking_ai... <- ref : Mr. Boener and the rest of the 1/2 of the1/3 of the elected federal represenatives who are holding the rest of government at bay
Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it •
/s, Steve :)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

So what the president has

So what the president has been telling us, basically, is that what the government will do in the face of sequestration is equivalent to a guy taking home a $1000 a week who suffers a 2.3% cut in his take home pay ($23) will be unable to make payments on his mortgage, car payments, or utility bills, and might have a little left over for a bit of food. Never mind that the 2.3% cut is a cut in the rate of increase.

oBAMa is little more than a carnival huckster who specializes in selling snake oil to a witless and uninformed audience. A clown is usually a man in a clown suit; oBAMa is a clown in a man suit.

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

Entitlements

Entitlements, this rag continues to call Social Security entitlements, these people choose not to say the real team that it is loan payments, no they dont want to say "Hey we are going to renig on our bonds and our Debts" that would after all cause the rich and the high end middle class to shake with fear, However those who choose to call SSI an entitlement dont understand that Social Security is an INSURANCE the same as a bond whereas the Goverment collects your money to use then rewards you when you retire, you are payed a monthly check. If you invested in a bond the same money would have been given a higher return and if you die before reaching the golden age you lose it all, whereas a bond your estate is still the bond owner, funny how the cronnies of the republican party have jumped on the band wagon calling our insurance payments entitlements yet doesn't bring up the stolen assets for those not lucy enough to reach the age of retirement which equals billions over the years. Nor do they wish to state the fact that the US GOVERMENT OWES SSI OVER A TRILLION DOLLARS IN I.O.U.s!!! SSI IS NOT AN ENTITLEMENT IT IS A DEBT!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

To which the debt holder is

To which the debt holder is 'entitled' to expect payment.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Paul , we agree with you .

Paul , we agree with you . It's money we owe ourselves . US • Remember the old ' Chicken Little ' story ? " The sky is falling , the sky is falling ! " You know what the wise old farmer said ? " Holy Crap ! A talking chicken ! " /s, Steve :)

Advertisement

Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...