The sequester spending cuts that are scheduled to go into effect on March 1 are very mild and not at all the Doomsday Machine (pictured) that is being portrayed by the Obama Administration and their liberal allies in much of the news media.
The sequester is a slight across-the-board reduction in most spending programs, amounting to only $85 Billion in cuts in this year's $3.6 Trillion budget.
CBS News explained that Social Security, Medicaid, supplemental security income (SSI), refundable tax credits, the children's health insurance program, the food stamp program, veterans benefits, and active duty military personnel are exempt from the cuts.
Excellent articles by George Will in the Washington Post, by former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, and by political analyst Dick Morris totally refute the absurd over-the-top liberal claims of devastation the sequester will supposedly cause.
When Congress passed the Budget Control Act in August 2011, it created a Super Committee with responsibility to come up with $1.2 Trillion in deficit reductions over the next 10 years. The law provided that, if the Committee failed to come up with the required plan, the sequester would then automatically do it each year over a decade.
Of course, the members of the Super Committee never came close to agreeing to a plan, so the sequester was supposed to take effect on January 1 of this year. Instead, Congress (in the "fiscal cliff" deal) postponed it for 2 months until March 1.
Nothing further needs to be done for the sequester to go into effect. It is in the law. To repeal, replace, or postpone it again would take a law passed by both the House and Senate and signed by the President.
As this is written, there appears to be no serious effort in either the House or Senate to derail the sequester.
Having said that, it is possible that a majority in Congress would like to repeal it.
Liberals don't want to cut any domestic discretionary spending programs and many conservatives don't want to cut even a penny from the defense budget. If someone put together a coalition of these liberals and conservatives, the sequester—and all hopes of reducing the very dangerous deficit—would be ended.
So far, the liberal and conservative members of the House and Senate are not talking to each other. But don't be shocked if there is a last minute deal to "defer" the sequester until "comprehensive tax reform" (or some other future nebulous goal) can be done at the same time.
I have strongly recommended to key staffers of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that, instead of an across-the-board cut, each agency head be given the authority to determine exactly where the cuts would be made in that agency. The total dollar amount would have to be achieved but each agency could determine what cuts would be made.
I explained that, with across-the-board cuts, necessary and effective programs are treated the same as unnecessary and ineffective programs. So, the Obama Administration and their liberal friends in the media could spotlight a few adverse effects of some cuts, possibly influencing public opinion against all reductions in spending.
But it is almost certain the leaders in each federal department know what are the most effective, and least effective, programs they have and could cut accordingly. If Obama appointees made the wrong decision, they would be held responsible for those actions.
Politico reported that approach may be retroactively incorporated into the next continuing resolution, appropriating money for the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013. The current continuing resolution expires on March 27.
In the meantime, it appears the American people aren't buying the Obama propaganda on the sequester, according to a new poll from The Hill.
A solid 58% of respondents in The Hill Poll prioritized cutting America's debt over maintaining current spending levels on domestic and military programs. This figure is almost double the share of voters, 28%, who believed the opposite…
67% of Republicans say cutting America's debt is the more pressing need, in contrast to just 43% of Democrats…However, just 36% of Democrats prioritized maintaining current spending levels.
Notably, respondents who identified themselves with neither party appeared to align themselves with Republicans on the general issue of debt versus spending: 66% said cutting America's debt was more important, while just 22% chose maintaining current spending levels.
That's consistent with a recent poll from Rasmussen Reports that found that just 28% of likely voters prefer a larger government with more services and higher taxes, while 62% opt for a smaller government and 10% were undecided.
If President Obama wants to make the 2014 elections a referendum on cutting federal spending, Republicans may be happy to oblige.
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