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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

11/27/23 pdf
November 27, 2023

The Sequester is Not a Death Sentence

The sequester has many pulling out their hair. Should it?



On Friday, March 1, 2013, airplanes fell from the sky, prisoners ran free in the streets, schools fired teachers in droves, bridges collapsed, and the era of American prosperity ended in a generally terrifying fashion as the dreaded sequester cuts took their terrible toll. Or maybe not.

All of the hype surrounding the automatic furlough in federal spending has masked  the reason for these cuts; massive deficits caused by irresponsible spending that threaten a true fiscal crisis, not a politically manufactured one. The supposedly draconian cuts, complying with the 2011 Budget Control Act, amount to about an $85 billion decrease in federal spending for 2013, equivalent to about a 2 percent decrease in federal spending for the upcoming year.

Lost in all the hysteria about air-traffic controllers running wild in the streets, or whatever new sequester-related disaster has emerged, is the inconvenient fact that the federal government is still going to spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012. So much for those cuts.

A notable critic of sequestration has been President Obama, who describes the across the board furloughs as “dumb” and “arbitrary.” Obama has stated his opposition to these cuts, seeking instead to gain revenue through additional tax increases along with “tough decisions on entitlements,” as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

It is well documented that sequestration was Obama’s idea in the first place, as he believed that Republicans would balk at the defense cuts included in the overall spending reduction. When this turned out not to be the case, Obama turned once again to what is quickly becoming the hallmark of his presidency: blaming Republicans. His cabinet has seemingly covered every morning show and weekly editorial column with dubious claims, misrepresentations, and outright lies.

For example, Education Secretary Arne Duncan falsely posited that teachers were getting “pink slips” as early as last Sunday because of sequester cuts. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed without evidence that airport lines are already longer because of the sequester. The White House claimed that over 700,000 jobs will be lost due to decreased government spending, a questionable estimate without considering the increased investment in American enterprise that a stable fiscal House will bring.

The all too obvious goal of the Obama administration is to paint the Republicans as obstructionists and misanthropes in order to bring about Democratic control of the House in 2014. The eschatological prophecy of the Democrats in the weeks leading up to the sequester is based in the belief that the path to growth and prosperity is through increased government spending. The Obama Administration’s aforementioned lies serve this goal well, although it is becoming increasingly difficult for Obama to blame Republicans for the crises he himself creates.

The scare tactics of the sequester seem to not  have worked on the American people. This may be because they have finally grown tired of Obama’s lofty rhetoric being followed by divisive politics. Alternatively, it could be that a minor decrease in our gargantuan federal government simply is not very scary to begin with. What is indeed scary, and not nearly as feared as it should be, is the massive federal debt and the trillion dollar deficits run up every year of the current administration’s tenure.

Massive government borrowing is not just a threat to long term stability. In the short term, the government’s borrowing crowds out the private market for credit, which discourages investment and inhibits growth. Along with that, the huge deficits add to our already soaring interest payments, mandatory expenditures that force tax increases and even more borrowing.

When a company or individual is in debt, they are forced to make difficult decisions as to how to repay it. Our government’s decision seems to be to ignore it until it goes away. Our national obsession with Keynesian economic theory has led dangerously close to a tipping point, beyond which lies complete chaos.

The sequester is a step in the right direction, but fails to properly address the soon to be insolvent medical programs that drive our borrowing. Unless a brave politician is able to persuade the country of the need to seriously reform Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, we remain on unstable fiscal footing. If we do nothing, our next crisis won’t be a political creation like the most recent ones have been, it will be all too real.