If the current turmoil in the Mideast scares you; if stories about Obamacare make you think America is heading into socialism; if drugs, killings and break-ins keep you shaking ... maybe you should spend some time pondering one solitary, boring-sounding word: Sequestration.
See? It doesn’t make you mad at all. It doesn’t make you rush out to buy a gaudy bumper sticker, or write a hot letter to the editor telling your side of the upcoming presidential election.
Political candidates quickly skip over sequestration. Democrats and Republicans alike shudder at its very name. They’d like to avoid it.
Come January, a few days before our new president is inaugurated, the U.S. Federal Budget automatically will be trimmed by tens of billions of dollars, and the axe will fall on every aspect of American life.
It didn’t have to happen. The culprit was the unyielding bickering that took place in the U.S. Capitol earlier this year. Republicans and Democrats, plus the White House, refused to hammer out a compromise measure that would move our country toward better economic days.
A super committee that consisted of officials from both parties failed, leaving open the “trigger,” which would cut federal spending across the board for nine consecutive years, totaling $1.2 trillion. And trigger time has come.
The 2013 cuts will apply to discretionary spending and be divided between reductions to defense ($500 billion) and non-defense ($700 billion). While sequestration can still be avoided if Congress passes legislation to undo the legal requirement in the Budget Control Act, that’s not likely to happen before Jan. 2.
The president might like to undo it himself, but he can’t. The Executive Branch has no such authority.
It would be futile to list all the possible cuts, because the percentages will change once the politicians get a hold of the list. But the slashes in federal spending will result in thousands of layoffs, plus cuts in education, Medicare and Medicaid, and every conceivable federal program on the books. Simply put, sequestration is the cancellation of budgetary resources — an automatic form of spending cutbacks.
While a smaller federal government is advocated by most Americans, this sequestering of funds will hit everyone like a rock. It comes not because it was necessary, but because Republicans and Democrats simply decided they could not work together.
They share the blame equally.
You might ask your congressman the next time he or she visits your community. But expect the answer to cast a negative light on the opposing party. It’s always the other guy, you know. That’s why sequestration will happen on Jan. 2.
Buckle your seat belts.
— The Montgomery County Chronicle (Caney, Kan.)