The Story on Sequestration


Sequestration is originally a legal term for the seizure or confiscation of property to prevent it being disposed of or destroyed before its ownership could be resolved.  The term was altered by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget act of 1985 to mean automatic spending cuts that kick in if the deficit exceeds a specific dollar amount.

If Sequestration kicks in at the beginning of March the following automatic spending cuts will take place:

A 10.0 percent reduction in non-exempt defense mandatory programs.

A 9.4 percent reduction in non-exempt defense discretionary funding.

An 8.2 percent reduction in non-exempt non-defense discretionary funding.

A 7.6 percent reduction in other non-exempt non-defense mandatory programs.

A 2.0 percent reduction in Medicare funding.

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For links for this story, click here.

I do not know that I am really upset in any fashion about the military side of this sequestration.  Not that sequestration itself is a good thing, but this kind of drastic cutting of defense spending I see as a positive thing.  We spend way too much on our military.  We are now and have for the past decade plus spent far too much for defense of the nation.  We spend 41% of all defense dollars on the planet.  What foe is, and foes are so large as to necessitate that kind of spending?

I see none.  Al-Qaeda, while a foe and a strong one, is not so strong a foe as to make necessary that kind of spending. Neither is North Korea that strong.  Neither is Iran.  No one  is.  So as far as those spending cuts go, I am all for them.

But the sequester doesn’t do just that. If it did I would whole-heartedly support it.

I do not.

The sequester will hurt a great many people by cuts to non military programs and  job cuts in many important government programs.

Sequestration would undermine education in a great many ways, from cutting funding for state grants and after-school programs. And funding for special needs children of all varieties to would suffer as well.  The agriculture departments ability to inspect food would be compromised.  The EPA’s ability to oversee environmental risks both at home and on the job would be compromised.  FEMA would not be able to respond to crises nearly as well due to lack of economic resources. And programs like unemployment and food stamps that protect the poorest of us from abject poverty and starvation would be curtailed as well.  There are a great many other programs affected by the potential sequestration that I have not mentioned.  A great many.

And those cuts would not only be a travesty and a sin, but would greatly impede this nations ability to simply function on a daily basis. The world, expensive as it is to live in, would become even more expensive.

And whom do we have to blame for all of this?

In 2011 we had a rather severe potential economic crisis on our hands. Yes it was completely self-inflicted,  by recalcitrant Republicans that were in the process of holding the economy hostage during the debt ceiling crisis.

You do remember that, right?

That Republicans in the house of representatives were not willing to budge and were willing to let the nations debt go into default, thus abandoning one of their major constitutional duties, unless something were done to curtail spending.  And that was where the concept of sequestration came into being during the Obama administration.  It was a way to get something done that would pass muster in the house.

All 218 Republicans voted for it.  No Democrats voted for it. And there is a reason that happened like that.  Democrats knew that it would hammer the economy and negatively affect millions of Americans.  Republicans didn’t care about that.  All they cared about was cutting spending, they cared not a lick who that would hurt or how much damage it would do to the economy and this nation.

Now the Republicans, seeing that their chickens are coming home to roost, that sequestration is wildly unpopular, are trying their level best to blame the President. And as we know, he really had no other choice when this first came up but to offer up something like this to save the economy.  It was the actions of the Republican controlled house that forced the Presidents hand when the house GOP held the nation hostage with the debt ceiling back in 2011.

But the issues here are not just with what the sequestration can do.  It is the attitude both sides are taking going into negotiations here.  Both sides seem to think that the other side  will be seen as being to blame for whatever happens here, which tells me that both sides will be willing to sit on their hands and simply let this happen.

I hope I am wrong about that.  The amount of damage the sequester will do is far too much for a nation just coming back from the great recession to handle.  It would cause recession 2.0 and I don’t think anyone wants that.  We’ll see if we get what we need, or what they want.

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