The Sequester: Fooled You!

Well, isn’t it just amazing how nobody got really riled, nobody got up to do anything serious about this whole sequester thing? Obama gave the usual lip service to Armageddon; Harry Reid tried to sound heated; Pelosi was silent; Boehner used the a-word, but not in a very angry manner — as if it were scripted. Watch this charade here.:

And we heard nothing at all from McConnell. Odd, isn’t it? Just look at the cast of characters. Boehner, McConnell, Pelosi, and Reid. All of them have been in Congress for a long time and they know that nothing gets done without compromise. They also know that they have to be seen as intent on reducing the federal deficit. The key thing, though, is this: above all, they know that no member of Congress can be associated with a vote on a major cutback in government spending. 

The military-industrial complex has thoughtfully placed its tendrils in hundreds of Congressional Districts, thus insulating this enormous slice of the budgetary pie from any retrenchment. Only an indiscriminately falling axe could possibly touch the military: and that is precisely what the sequester accomplishes. 

If the sequester had touched Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, every politician would be held accountable. But this cut — this 10% cut in discretionary spending, which makes up just 14% of the federal budget! — affects the vast majority of Americans only peripherally. The jobless rate rises .5%? That’s nothing when compared to tens of millions of seniors and their trusty li’l AARP marching on Washington, demanding what they believe is rightfully theirs. There is no national organization of the unemployed. Nobody will bring them to D.C. to pressure lawmakers. Nobody wants to know about the unemployed. In that way, it’s sort of like smoking: you know it’s like playing Russian Roulette. You have your job, but it’s anybody’s guess if you’ll have it in five years; looking at the unemployed worker makes you just a little uneasy. It might just happen to you, and you know it.

Let’s take stock of where we are now, after the sequester sailed through the darkened waters of Congress. There are no howls from the Democrats. And they’d better not try to increase spending now: the Republicans will paint them once again as tax and spend liberals. (That sort of labeling works.) No single Representative is responsible for this massive cut in spending, and this is the first time in our history that this can be said. We are now on track to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion in ten years, not coincidentally the precise amount that bankers and rating agencies have been demanding.

The sequester was not unwanted. It was not unplanned. Both parties have it in their interest to do exactly what they did, which was to shield elected officials from voter backlash by applying an indiscriminate reduction in federal spending. It is in their interest, and they did it. Listen to the roar of their silence.


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