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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sequestration and Self Inflicted Wounds

Sequester is a funny word.

Sequester.

It’s typically not a word you’d use in daily conversation, unless you’re maybe a bankruptcy lawyer, or a monk.

In general usage, sequester means to seclude or hide away – which, come to think of it, is starting to sound like a pretty good idea.

As a legal term, sequester describes the process of taking valuable property into custody by the court for safekeeping, typically during ownership disputes in order to prevent the property from being destroyed or disposed of improperly.

In the context of the US Congress, sequester is defined as an act of lewd acrobats involving a senator, a underage prostitute, a tube of KY-Jelly, and a squid.

 

What?

 

OK, you got me, I might have just made up that last bit.

But, see, likely my flippant definition of the pending crisis is probably just as good as any other.

For the most part, research indicates that Americans have a vague idea that Sequestration is bad, and that we probably ought to blame somebody for it, and that it probably involves the federal government (and maybe a squid), but they really have no idea of the details

A poll published by The Hill on Feb. 11 found that only thirty-six percent of voters could define the Sequester even in the most general terms. Thirty-eight percent thought they knew, but were wrong when questioned in detail. Twenty percent thought the Sequester had something to do with the debt limit – which is incorrect.  Eight percent thought Sequester referred to some kind of ruling by SCOTUS on the budget – it doesn’t and there is no such case.

And, you know, you can hardly blame Americans for their ignorance, since the 2010 elections it’s been one artificially spawned “crisis” after another – from the Fiscal Cliff to the Mayan Apocalypse. It’s getting hard to keep them straight.  Sequester is just the most recent weird word in a long line of weird words, describing an arcane concept most people have little understanding of and less experience with. And to make it even more confusing, congressional leaders who were just last week describing to us just how awful Sequestration is, are now suddenly telling us, wait, hang on, Obama says it’s bad, so it must be good.

We’ve always been at war with Eastasia, right? Or was it Eurasia? I forget.

For most Americans, the Sequester set to take effect on Friday is just the latest vaguely defined dire threat in an endless parade of squawking Chicken Littles.  And, hell, Congress already has the next crisis, the reoccurring debt ceiling showdown, scheduled for the end of March – hard to get excited about this one when we’ve got to get the partisan troops ready for the next battle, right?

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that Sequestration will negatively affect every American (and a lot of non-Americans too) and the vast majority of them know next to nothing about it – in fact, most of us don’t even know where the word Sequester came from or what it means.

The term itself, Sequester, used in the context of the US federal budget originated in the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act of 1985. The idea behind the act was to make the size of the federal deficit a conscious choice by congress and the president, rather than an accidental result of the  appropriations process. How it works is like this: each year in the annual Budget Resolution, congress must set a limit on the coming year’s deficit and then build the budget around that limit, instead of cranking out the budget first and letting the deficit fall where it may as a result.

In other words, each year it’s up to congress and the president to determine how large the deficit will be for that year (and  by extension, how much larger the national debt will be allowed to grow).

Now most Americans think of the federal budget as some kind of single massive spreadsheet, but in reality it’s a dozen or so appropriation bills that are passed (or not) separately by congress each year. In accordance with Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, if the total amount of government spending in those various appropriation bills exceeds the limits established by congress in the Budget Resolution, and if congress cannot agree on ways to reduce the total amount of expenditures to meet the limit or is unable to pass a new budget resolution with a higher spending limit (that next crisis I mentioned, the one on March 27) then an automatic form of spending cuts is invoked by law.

The automatic cuts are called sequestration.

So, that’s where the term itself, used in the context of the federal budget, comes from.

Now, under sequestration, an amount of money equal  to the difference between the cap set in the Budget Resolution and the total amount actually appropriated is taken back from the government and held in reserve by the Treasury, i.e. this money is not handed over to the agencies to which it was originally allocated by Congress in the various appropriation bills. 

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist, or a scheming politician, to see all kinds of different ways that sequestration can be abused – and it would be abused, just like the Filibuster is abused by self-serving partisan politicians in the Senate, if there wasn’t some mechanism to prevent it.

So, to prevent sequestration from becoming a way for politicians to carry out personal vendettas against various political targets (both by the left and the right), the money is supposed to be withheld from every government agency equally. That is, every government agency, program, and project gets the same percentage of its projected budget withheld to produce an “across the board” total spending cut in order to make the federal budget for that year meet the limits set by congress in the Budget Resolution. 

In other words, if you force the government into sequestration in order to stick it to the other guys, you automatically screw yourself too. 

In a very nearly literal sense, sequestration is cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Of course, congress immediately exempted certain programs from Sequestration, such as Social Security and selected portions of the Defense budget, and each year since the passage of Gram-Rudman-Hollings congress has added more programs to the exempt list.

However, the total amount of Sequestration remains the delta between the total appropriations passed by congress and the limit that they set for themselves.

What this means in practical terms is that Sequestration has to take back huge chunks of the remaining non-exempt agency and program budgets to meet the total cutbacks required by law. The impact on those agencies is huge.

This sequestration is by definition a failure of congress. 

It is, in point of fact, the result of multiple failures, beginning with the debt-ceiling fight in 2011. Tea Party conservatives, fresh off their electoral victories in the 2010 midterms, demanded one dollar in spending reductions for every dollar of increase in the federal debt ceiling. The resulting congressional brawl nearly crashed the stock market and undermined consumer confidence in the US economy – and as a result S&P downgraded the country’s credit rating for the first time in history.

Eventually congress agreed to raise the US borrowing limit, the so-called debt ceiling.

That agreement resulted in the Budget Control Act which allowed for a $2.4 trillion debt-ceiling increase in return for about the same amount of deficit reduction over the next decade.  Of that two trillion dollar deficit reduction, about half was to be achieved through spending caps on all government functions outside of entitlement programs – that much they managed to agree on.  The rest of the reduction however, was the sticking point.  Congress couldn’t agree where the other trillion and a half dollars was to come from. 

So they punted.

They created a bipartisan (or perhaps “hyperpartisan” would be a better word) commission commonly referred to as the supercommitte to hash it out.

The supercommittee was born of failure, but it could have succeeded. The committee had immense power and special rules that would allow its recommendations to move through congress without the usual delaying tactics. It could have succeeded. But it was deliberately loaded with folks who refused to comprise and who were determined to fail, and fail they did, right on schedule.

And that triggered the Budget Control Act’s self-destruct clause, Sequestration.

But Republicans weren’t worried.

See, they were sure, absolutely sure, that they’d win back the White House, then they wouldn’t have to deal with Barack Obama.  So they crossed their arms and petulantly refused to do their job – and why should they? They get paid the same whether they work or not.

And now here it is, 2013, and they still can’t believe that Obama won reelection.  It pisses them off.  As a result, they’ve decided to make the entire country pay for their humiliation.

And so here we are.

Sequestration was supposed to begin on the first day of this year, but congress managed kick the can down the road two months by finding $24 billion in reductions, which allowed them two additional months to do the job they should have done a year ago. 

Instead, they failed once again.

This year the sequestration totals a hundred billion and change. Since congress has already found twenty-four billion, they still have to cut roughly eighty-six billion out of the rest of the year.  One hundred billion is about two percent of the federal budget.

Two percent doesn’t seem like a lot, does it?

It's amazing how Obama says that life as we know it will end, when the cuts are only 2% of the whole budget. His scare tactics are just about an impeachable offense, because HE is the one who will decide which cuts are to be made. And if he makes the cuts to make the GOP look bad, instead of making cuts which would be good for the country, he WILL be impeached. Even Democrat senators have been saying that

I don’t think the Yahoo! commenter understands what constitutes “an impeachable” offense – and if he wants to impeach somebody, he should start with congress because they’re the ones who put us in this position. His grasp of the Sequester isn’t any better.  

However, the sentiment expressed in his comment seems to be a common perception of the situation.

Two percent doesn’t seem like a lot, but because certain programs are exempt from sequestration, the remaining non-exempt programs will have to provide the entire amount. And those affected programs will likely be severely impacted, if not outright crippled, by the resulting cutbacks because while Sequestration will only take back 2% of the overall federal budget, agencies such as the non-exempt portion of the Defense Department will end up losing more like thirteen percent of their budgets this year. Non-Defense agencies are looking at close to a nine percent cut.

Those are huge numbers, with huge impacts.

Now, in reality of course, most likely there’s no actual money to withhold – because at the moment the government would have to borrow most of it first.  That’s why a number of folks are saying sequestration isn’t really taking anything away from anybody – because they never really had it in the first place so they should be able to live without it.  That’s a massively oversimplified misconception that while in some cases may be superficially true, in many cases it bears no relationship to reality.  See, those agencies were promised that money, via appropriation bills, and they built their budgets around it more than a year ago, i.e. the Navy ordered ships and scheduled deployments and dry dock repairs, and the Air Force ordered planes and let contracts for repairs on their buildings, and various agencies, programs, and projects hired people and ordered office supplies and bound themselves to contracts and other financial obligations.  State programs such as schools, fire departments, police forces, food and shelter programs, transportation departments, and so on were all promised federal money and they planned accordingly.  And this includes all those Congressional pork barrel projects that everybody hates in other states, but somehow can’t live without in their own. And not all states are affected equally, the poorest states – and ironically the reddest and therefore the ones most opposed to federal spending – are the ones most dependent on the Federal government for police, fire, school, and social services funding.

Now the rules of Sequestration allow for very little latitude when it comes to withholding funds – by law, the cuts are supposed to affect every non-exempt department, agency, program, and project. It was designed that way. 

Sequestration is supposed to be painful.

It’s supposed to be a used only as a last ditch, emergency option when all else has failed.

There is no reason for this. Obama could cut a lot of other things. He is lying again, and purposely cutting really necessary things pretending there is nothing else to cut, in a desperate attempt to keep us form cutting everything we need to. Obama is evil. He is now cutting things we DO need. Impeach and JAIL this MF. Obama is out of his mind. Now he wants to cut necessary things instead of all the things that can easily be cut. He's doing this to scare people into thinking things can't be cut. Obama is so EVIL. We need to cut tons, and letting illegal detainees go like Obama wants to do is NOT one of them. Obama is a criminal! Impeach and jail him!

Why is he [Obama]shutting down airports?!! Usual lib scar tactics is what it is! Give me more of money or I’ll shut down your airport! Want to be all the airports he shuts are in RED states???? What a crock!

Those comments were under a Yahoo! article on the Sequester, the same one I linked to above.  They’re two of thousands of similar comments I’ve read or heard elsewhere, including from supposedly informed commentators and news personalities.  What these people, and indeed a significant fraction of Americans in general, don’t seem to understand is that when sequestration goes into effect, neither the president nor congress gets to pick and choose what gets cut and what doesn’t.

With a handful of exemptions, sequestration cuts all departments, agencies, programs, and projects across the board. 

That’s whole point of Sequestration.

Now, some of those programs and projects can’t be cut back, they either have to be funded in whole or they’ll have to be shut down altogether. 

Let me give you an example. 

In the second comment above, the writer was outraged about cuts to air traffic controllers. I saw a thousand comments just like this one on various Tea Party sites and under various new articles.  What these people fail to realize is that a) many small regional airports are already running with the absolute minimum number of personal required by law to operate, and b) the sequester applies to all agencies equally by law – including Air Traffic Controllers.  The Department of Transportation doesn’t get a choice, by congressional design, the president is not allowed to favor one area over another. Therefore all airports will have their federal employees furloughed by the same percentage – and air traffic controllers are federal employees.  In a number of cases this drops the total number of controllers below the thresholds where it’s safe to operate, so the airports either have to shut down or operate part time. And it’s not just the controllers, it’s the security folks, and the safety inspectors, and so on, and in many cases it’s just not possible to go into part time operation, you can’t start the facility up and shut it down over and over. Hell, from the standpoint of airline scheduling alone, it’s just not practical because the systems are simply too complex with too many moving parts and there isn’t enough leeway.  For example, what if weather forces a delay at a small regional airport, pushing scheduled flights past the point where the tower can be manned and into the time where the airport has to shut down? The passengers, and the expensive plane, would be stranded until the airport can open up again.  Yeah, but can’t the tower guys just work overtime or something? No. Not only no, but hell no. In fact they could be arrested for working when they’re supposed to be on furlough.  No airline can take the risk of operating under these conditions, and neither can an airport for liability reasons. So they’ll have to shut down. 

Another example: USDA food inspectors. If Sequestration goes into effect, 8,400 meat inspectors will have to be furloughed for a total of fifteen days to meet the reduced budget constrains for their agency.  Meat processing plants can’t operate without inspectors for what should be very obvious reasons.  There is a minimum number of inspectors required for each shift at each plant. In a lot of cases, it is impossible to run the plant at reduced capacity, for the most part they simply aren’t designed that way – it’s like running an entire GM assembly line to make one car. So the plants will have to be idled on the days where there aren’t enough inspectors to fill all the shifts. So not only do the federal inspectors lose work, so do the meat packers, and the food plant – which means they all pay less taxes, which means the government has even less money to pay its bills The president doesn’t get the option of keeping the inspectors on at the expense of some other area of the USDA, he can’t take money from salmon research or vaccination programs to pay meat inspectors, because Congress has specifically denied him that flexibility. And again, it was designed that way to prevent either congress or the president from using sequestration to kill or fund partisan programs. 

Likewise, you can’t build a navy ship at reduced capacity – the process is already just about as lean as it can get. There are literally millions, millions, of  subassemblies and supplies and projects that all have to meet to build a ship on schedule and within budget. A delay anywhere in that process will snarl hundreds of timelines.  You’re going to have to idle the entire shipyard and reprogram. There’s just no way around it. If you think there is, you simply have no grasp of the enormous scope and complexity of what it takes to build a modern warship.

There is very little flexibility in sequestration because the process isn’t supposed to be used.

Sequestration is supposed to be the nuclear option, the option with such catastrophic consequences that anything else is preferable – including sitting down at the table with your political opposition and doing your goddamned job.

Using Sequestration to cut government spending is exactly like slamming into a wall and depending on your car’s airbag so that you don’t have to fix the brakes.

It’s stupid and dangerous and as I’ve said, exactly like cutting off your own nose.

Speaker of the House, John Boehner, denounced President Obama, saying, “He’s is going all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders. We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.”

I don’t necessarily disagree with the sentiment, but still, that’s pretty funny, coming from congress. You know, the folks who gave themselves the last ten days off.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said Obama “needs stop campaigning" and stop trying to "scare" people over the looming sequester cuts. "It's time for the president to show leadership. Every governor here has had to balance their budget during tough economic times, every family has to balance their budget. The reality is it can be done. It can be done without jeopardizing the economy, it can be done without jeopardizing critical services."

And that’s even funnier, given that no state – most especially Louisiana – has ever balanced its budget without federal dollars, especially one still shoveling its way out from under one of the most devastating hurricanes to ever hit an American city.  Who exactly pays the lion’s share of Jindal’s critical services? I’ll give you one guess. Is Jindal saying that he’s prepared to have the state of Louisiana step up and pay the difference when Sequestration takes back funding for his police, firemen, schools, and hurricane repairs?  I’m hip. Sounds good, let’s take him up on it.

And it’s not just Louisiana, according the White House's figures, Pennsylvania will lose $26.4 million in funding for education, while New Jersey will lose $11.7 million and Delaware will lose $1.4 million. In addition, the estimated numbers of civilian jobs that could see furloughs are 26,000 for Pennsylvania, 11,000 for New Jersey, and 2,000 for Delaware. Funding will be cut for some social programs related to daycare, Head Start, meals for seniors, vaccinations for children, and educators who work with the disabled.  What state has the excess funding to make up those shortfalls?  Especially this far into the fiscal year?  I notice that Governor Jindal and his fellow state executives haven’t mentioned any of that to their citizens.

"This is not time for a road-show president," House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said.

Wrong, this is exactly the time.  The governors aren’t doing it, so somebody has to.

The President isn’t engaged in scare tactics, he’s doing his job telling you, the American citizen, what the consequences of Sequester are going to be. And you should be informed, you should be scared, you should know full well how it’s going to affect everything from your job to your fire department to the food you put in your mouth. Because it is going to affect you, it’s going to affect everybody. And you need to know that. You, the voting citizen need to know that, you need to know because we live in a republic and while Congress refuses to listen to the President, they might just listen to you.

Because that’s how America is supposed to work.

You can’t afford to remain ignorant of the details of Sequestration.

The consequences of Sequestration are dire in the extreme, it was designed to be that way, and in point of fact if the consequences aren’t extreme then congress is in violation of the law.

By  definition, sequestration means that the United States congress has failed in its primary duty – which is why a significant fraction of congress is trying to pretend like this whole thing wasn’t their idea in the first place and that the effects will be limited. 

Then why did you sign [Sequestration] into law Mr. President? Because you made a political miscalculation thinking that the GOP would never allow such defense cuts and that their concession on this bill would allow you to again raise taxes? Whoops.

The commenter is correct.  Obama did underestimate conservatives – he didn’t think they’d be suicidal or insane enough to actually risk crashing the economy of the United States, maybe even the whole world, to make a political point.

Obama underestimated just how much conservatives hate him and how far they are willing to go because of it.

Of course, just like the last crisis, and the one before that, just like the recent fight over Chuck Hagel’s nomination, it’s all a game.

Conservatives will, in the end, make a deal. Very likely they’ll end up giving President Obama what he wants, at least to some extent. But not before they’ve made their point, not before they’ve caused gas prices to go up and stock prices to fall, not before they’ve risked yet another downgrade to America’s credit rating. Not before they’ve idled 700,000 American workers who can least afford it and not before they’ve driven the wedge that divides this country just a little deeper into its heart. But eventually, they’ll deal, they have no choice because they’ve already lost and they know it. And that’s what galls them the most.

Every American, left and right, should be appalled that it’s finally come down to this.

Every American, left and right, should be appalled by this continuous and unending state of self inflicted crisis.

And it is long past time to stop playing games.

It is long past time for congress to stop causing the problems and start fixing them.

94 comments:

  1. Long past. Yep.

    And...

    Yeah.

    I fear we're watching that ugly phase in the life cycle of a republic where the privileged and wealth laugh at the quaint notions of the public good, and treat the body politic instead like it was some grub, and they were parasitic wasps. You know, stab it repeatedly, paralyze it, and then devour it -- live -- from the inside.

    It needn't be so. There's no law of nature involved. And yet...

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  2. I wish a lot more people would read your blog. Especially the talking heads on TV. Then they might really understand how bad it can really be.
    Wall Street isn't worried. The big players there will make billions no matter what happens. It's the people who are counting on their future retirements that will lose in the market. In panic and confusion there is opportunity and profit.
    As always this post has helped me to clarify my understanding of a situation. I thank you for that.
    I knew this was bad and never in the authors wildest dreams supposed to be implemented.
    It seems like we have crossed into a world where none of the old rules apply and anything could happen.
    And Nazis too.

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  3. This process (sequestration) is like using a chainsaw in the dark to trim your fingernails instead of using the proper tool in the light.

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    1. Where's the "Like" button? I like this.

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  4. Found at the Doonesbury/Slate site http://www.doonesbury.com this morning:

    "None of the things [Obama is] saying are true...People know that if bad things occur, it's because the president wants them to occur. The president is the president. He's in charge of the government."

    Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, on the sequester R-GA

    The oath he swore was as follows

    "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

    Anybody else notice a minor discrepancy between the two? Like maybe lying about the Constitution to your constituents constitutes, at least, misfeasance in office? (Sorry about that, I got carried away)

    But, you know, it doesn't say anything about supporting and defending the constitution against people who aren't enemies of the United States. So as long as you're talking to people who are Real Americans, it's okay to trash the Constitution, to misquote it, to warp and twist the meaning to whatever purpose you want, without ever violating the letter of your oath.

    And there's another out - the oath isn't to support the United States, just the Constitution. Which means that if you can find a loophole to exploit, you can, with impunity, trash the US even if you aren't trashing the Constitution.

    Both interpretations seem to be on the A list right now for Republicans. The letter of the law is a wonderful thing, isn't it?

    Ann C.

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  5. Mid Level Bureau CatFebruary 28, 2013 at 4:11 AM

    This is your first strong (as opposed to simply ammusing post in several months. I was wondering if you would get to the budget *%#!. Good analysis and a succict summary. It is sad that unless there is an "end of the world as we know it" (EOTWAWKI?) crisis going on budget stuff slips to page three news.

    It is worth noting that the budget Congress is failing to complete is the one for Fiscal Year 2013, you know, the one that started 10/01/2012. The fact that we (I work in Federal Budget) have already been operating for 5 months makes sequestration even harder to deal with.

    Congress will probably go just past the sequestration deadline before making the deal they alway knew they would have to all along. This will waste thousands of hours of Federal workers time and kill many trees while we make and revise plans to meet minimum levels of operation.

    Why do we have to end up with the Congress everyone else deserves?

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  6. Great post. I haven't heard anything about whether Senators, Reps, and their staffers are to be affected (i.e., a pay cut or furlough). And the people who clean their offices and toilets, and serve their food in the Capitol cafeteria, and the Capitol PD, etc. I'm not being facetious. How unpleasant will this be for them personally until they get their shit together? I know most of the big dogs could handle it, but the army of staff that do the majority of work around this town live paycheck to paycheck. The news reports predict 27,000 lost jobs in Virginia and 25,000 lost jobs in Maryland, but I don't think that was directly on Capitol Hill. I want to know if they will be inconvenienced in their week to week. Thoughts?

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    1. Congress is, by the terms of the last constitutional amendment ratified (the 27th), barred from having their salaries changed during their term of office.

      Everyone else? Ah, wait, we already heard that charming "fuck you, I got mine" in the word sequester.

      And don't forget that the radical Republican position is that government should be shrunk down and then drowned in a bathtub. Screwing a few things up and putting tens of thousands out of work is just... collateral damage. Move along. Nothing to see there.

      Delete
  7. And I didn't mean to disregard the lost jobs in DC proper, I just can't remember the figure I read.

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  8. Speaker of the House, John Boehner, denounced President Obama, saying, “He’s is going all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders. We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.”

    The Speaker doesn't seem to understand that those two bills were passed by the previous Congress, which no longer exists. They are moot.

    Revenue bills must come from the House, the Senate isn't supposed to start them.

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    1. And don't you just know IF the President plunked a bill completely written in front of them the fire would be shooting from their eyes at the audacity - of even an outline on a cocktail napkin. What I cannot stand is MSM ignoring the truth and putting their hand up after Boehner spouted off saying "uh Mr. Speaker didn't those bills die when new year began? Doesn't the Constitution place responsibility for Revenue Bills to originate in the House? And speaking of responsibility - in the last campaign wasn't that a big focus insisting only GOP took responsibility unlike the poor and liberal who want every thing done FOR them?"
      Marlene

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    2. IMO, much of the reason Americans are so ill informed is because the media is corrupt, incompetent, and bias. They don't care about the truth. "Both sides do it". "We'll have to leave it there". I don't watch anymore, even MSNBC. Thanks for blogs such as this one, at least I stay more informed than if I got my info from the boob-tube.

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  9. Jim, et al - Sequestration is already occuring in a sense. Federal, military and intelligence agencies have been spending increasingly more time in the last year reviewing out-year costs and doing "budget drills". Over the last half year they have slowed down acquisition and contracts for material or services are being written under the stricture of the impending cuts, instead of the assumption of a positive funding once the budget recenters again.

    Hundereds of thousands of man-hours have been squandered in these preparatory budget drills. Contractors are assuming that contracts will not be renewed or proposals will be based on unworkable rates. Truly critical systems and services will be delayed or cancelled because there is no other choice. (Not every DoD purchase is a $200 toilet seat.) So, the tension and pressure of sequestration has been evident for months already, and agency effectiveness has already been reduced by these pressures.

    The fact of the cuts actually occuring will not relieve anything, but just make conditions miserable for a federal, military and contractor workforce that really just wants to get the job done. Unlike Congress. Tommy D

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  10. Glad I found this site about two months ago. Keep up the great work. Pablo

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  11. Jim - This is (as usual) a great article. I know your blog is very popular, but I'm still surprised you haven't been picked up by Rolling Stone or Salon.

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  12. Best explanation/discussion of the sequester from anywhere - online/offline - presidential speeches included. Compulsory reading for the WHPC and the rest of the media that enjoy the drama of each new day of GOP obstruction.

    Thanks for caring enough to explain it so very well.

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  13. Jim, you touched on one of the main reasons we are in this mess...the press have let us down once again...they are one of the reasons the country is split up so badly...all the lies and mis-information...the beltway boobs have taken the corruption to a new level...Do you know that only six percent of the population knows that the deficit had shrunk? It seems the "paid pundits" are just that...paid...It all boils down to "I got mine, and fuck the rest of you"...

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  14. Thank you, once again, for your succinct outline of the scope of the problem facing us with an intransigent right-wing who controls the House and has so far shown only tantrums and petulance that they DID NOT WIN so they are, childishly, going to punish the country for their misdeeds and idiotic (and darned near treasonous) behavior.

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    1. They've been doing that since January 20th, 2009.

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    2. actually, they've been doing that since Nixon, when they felt he was unfairly targeted.

      so not kidding.

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  15. Every morning I have to get my kids dressed. The three year old wants to dress himself, which he can do, but he also wants to play. When time runs out if he isn't dressed (much to his distress) I grab him and dress him whether he wants me to or not. That's not being a leader that's being a tyrant, but it gets the job done.

    The US Congress wants to play games instead of getting the job done. Because the US isn't a dictatorship the President can't grab them an force them to do their jobs. But Congress folk are acting like they're three years old and the President is acting like a leader by attempting to apply pressure through their constituents. Good for him, bad on them.

    TimBo

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    1. Beautiful and spot on comparison there TimBo! Love your comment just as much as I love this blog post (which is quite a lot)!

      Delete
  16. "In the context of the US Congress, sequester is defined as an act of lewd acrobats involving a senator, a underage prostitute, a tube of KY-Jelly, and a squid."

    Not sure why members of the House get a bye here. I'm sure some of them would be likely to join in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good thought! How about just add "a congressman" right in between the senator and the prostitute?

      Old Navy Comm O

      Delete
    2. The Senator is a "congressman" We have a bicameral legislative system composed of the House and the Senate, together these two bodies form congress.

      Delete
  17. Actually, the KY Jelly is what every American needs. The basic policy message from DC is "drop trou and bend over" and has been for a long time. The chicken little statists have fallen for the fearmongering hook, line and sinker, wherein a miniscule reduction to spending increases is called an actual cut and people think every dollar gubmint wants to spend is legitimate and necessary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First, there is no unified policy message from DC so the simplification simply isn't credible. The process of developing public policy is much more complex than what you grant with your over-simplified and incorrect premise.

      There are vast differences between the two parties and what is on offer from each in regards to public policy. Despite the misdirection, they aren't 'just the same', they aren't 'each as culpable as the other'.

      That kind of pretense and artifice about some unified voice coming from DC you're attempting to foster isn't helping the public debate. That kind of pretense is a large part of what's driving and abetting the public's misinformed opinions and rather the public has a right to know the simple facts behind the process of formulating public policy, not be fed more fictitious myths.

      Delete
    2. Sorry you missed my sarcasm (which at best is what DC is deserving of). Yes, developing public policy is indeed complex, but not terribly. Even at that, it remains beyond the intellectucal capacity of anyone who is part of the republican/democrat machine. So please, don't lecture me about "public debate;" that is the LAST thing petty partisans care about. The public's "misinformed opions" are created out of their own desire to worry about cheap political points and get vicarious life satisfaction over who holds what office as opposed to actually doing anything to better the country.

      Delete
    3. Anon, at 11:08, I don't believe what you stated qualifies as sarcasm because it is a simple misrepresentation of fact, there's no irony in falsehoods, falsehoods are only that, false. To be ironic there has to be some truth to a circumstance, and your statement is simply a false or incorrect portrayal of events.

      And it's simply ludicrous to claim that good and productive public policy development is beyond the intellectual capacity of anyone who is a part of the Republican or Democratic 'machine'.

      There are, in fact, several good Democrats who have been developing and promoting good public policy right throughout the Republican obstructionist intransigence. Several pieces of very good legislation actually have become law since Bush left. If it weren't for Republican intransigence, there would have been much more.

      I would venture to guess there are a very few Republicans still, who are also capable, but they're been pretty effectively silenced. Being silent doesn't equate with being intellectually incapable, although they certainly are not effective.

      I don't mind or have any qualms about addressing you, or anyone else for that matter, who, seemingly intentionally or simply misguidedly attempts to further misrepresentations of political realities. Contrary to what you may wish, misinformed opinions are quite often fomented as a result of people making false statements.

      As is said, in the public debate of political realities, falsehoods don't lend themselves to any constructive solutions, and there is no more time for anything less than honest and sincere constructive solutions. There is no more time for misstatements or fictions.

      Delete
    4. Joe,

      I'm all for honest and sincere constructive solutions. But they're impossible to achieve as long as a single democrat or republican is in office. The fact that Stockholm Syndroe partisans on either side continue to elect (but refuse to hold accountable) their overlords is why we are $17 TRILLION in the hole.

      Delete
    5. Anon at 5:03 am - Just double checking here - You're saying the government shouldn't exist? Or that we should appoint a dictator? Or that we should come up with some new parties (out of our collective asses, maybe?) and let THEM elect the incredibly sane people they would come up with?

      You've got your own list of rascals you want to put in once you throw all of our rascals out?

      If you've got a sincere and honest solution, let's hear it. A loud raspberry doesn't qualify.

      Ann C.

      Delete
    6. Anon, at 5:03 appears to be intent on demonstrating his concern for a lack of intellectual capacity by insisting on sacrificing whatever intellect he may have once possessed.

      Delete
    7. Ann C.,

      It's rather telling that you would somehow equate pointing out the abject failure of republicans and democrats with asking if "the government shouldn't exist." Says pretty much all one needs to know about how badly your Stockholm Syndrome is.

      Delete
    8. OK, Anonymous, you're done now.

      Everybody here understands your message: Democrats are bad. Republicans are bad. Everybody except for you is stupid, brainwashed, and suffering from mental illness. It's the same opinion you've expressed on every post you've ever commented on. We got it. You've more than made your opinion clear.

      I let you run on here just to see if you had any mode other than that of the standard issue sneering libertarian. Obviously you don't. It was bad enough when you were just repeating yourself over and over. But now, true to form, you've started engaging in snide little ad hominem attacks directed at the other commenters.

      Normally I'd give you a warning, but I've already done that on several previous posts. So, you're now done. Any further comments from you will be removed without fanfare. Don't bother to try and get in the last word, just leave.

      Delete
  18. I concur with TS and EmilyPEarwig above. This is a great explanation of the whole sequestration mess in which we find ourselves. The problem of course is that the people who need to read it won't ever find their way here. Any ideas on how to get it force-fed to those who need it?

    My favorite line, Jim:

    Using Sequestration to cut government spending is exactly like slamming into a wall and depending on your car’s airbag so that you don’t have to fix the brakes.

    Thanks for a really wonderfully written piece, Shipmate!

    Old Navy Comm O

    ReplyDelete
  19. I shared this blog on my FB page. Thanks Jim, I would have said that sequestration's meaning was obvious, but seeing the idiotic comments in the mainstream media, I had to revise my assumption. It is not obvious to just about 99% of the virtual denizens.
    I appreciate your sensible description, without the fallacious running commentary of the main media pundits ... the worse washout was probably the take in the NY Times pages...

    ReplyDelete
  20. Excellent post, Jim. Once again, thank you for doing the job our media should be doing--informing us.

    As far as I'm concerned, the President's hands are clean when it comes to this. It's _Congress_, especially the GOP, that f'd-up here, simply because they don't like the Black guy with the funny name that's sitting in the White House.

    My brother will be affected by this. So will all of us, as you said. It's about high time we placed the blame squarely where it belongs and demand that Congress gets their act together or face a bloodbath in 2014.

    ...the trouble is, I doubt that come 2014, we will remember the sequester because we've moved on to other things. I hope I'm wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marc,

      No one will remember this come 2014 because people who vote for republicans and democrats are case studies of Stockholm Syndrome. They refuse to hold their elected demi-gods accountable as evidenced by a $17 TRILLION self-created overspending crisis (calling it a 'deficit' as if it's some external thing out of their control is an ignorant lie), and Al Qongress goes on it's merry way carrying out economic jihad against America.

      - Harrison Bergeron

      Delete
    2. Sorry "Harrison", but Vonnegut you ain't. Maybe it's not an overspending problem, but an under-taxing problem. We have some of the most regressive and lowest tax rates of all the developed countries.

      NaluGirl

      Delete
    3. Nalu,

      When you spend more than you take in, that's an overspending problem. Although maybe you're among the large number of Americans who owe a balance on their credit cards, so perhaps such common sense is beyond the ken of this nation's fiber.

      The only way you can say it's an "under-taxing problem" is if you subscribe to the misguided notion that every dollar the gubmint spends is legitimate and necessary.

      Delete
    4. "...When you spend more than you take in, that's an overspending problem."

      Then we have a "take in" problem. Therefore we need to "take in" more.

      I agree that we have some of the most regressive and lowest tax rates of all the developed nations. Not to mention that historically, our fiscal health has been better when we "feed" our fiscal body like we should...as was when Reagan was President, as was when Clinton was president...etc.

      You "put out", you "take in"...that's the way a body functions.

      Delete
    5. So how much more do they need to take away, errr, "take in?" Why can't anyone who makes such a claim ever put a number to it? Again, there's been no proof given that every dollar they spend is legitimate and necessary.

      One thing gubmint has succeeded at is convincing people that lack of money management is the same thing as lack of money.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous, you make unfounded assumptions about me. I have no credit card nor any other type of debt. Everything I have is paid for.
      Now, I will make an assumption about you. YOur use of the word "gubmint" tells me that you are one of those people who votes for those who hate our government and WANT it to fail, so they can then claim that government doesn't work. A fine example of circular reasoning.
      Now I won't say that our government cannot be more efficient, but "starving the beast" is not in anyone's best interest.
      I was educated in public schools, went to a State university, drive on public roads, am able to stay healthy because of public health programs that monitor our food, water, air and disease control; I camp in National Parks, enjoy reading books from the public library, use the internet that was initially developed with national money.... Shall I go on?
      I do not resent paying my fair share in taxes. I DO resent people who, due to their rentier-based incomes, pay LESS than theirs.
      They benefit from government as much as we do, yet whine when their free ride is threatened.
      NaluGirl

      Delete
    7. Nalu,

      Congrats on being debt free. It was not necessarily an assumption "about" you, but rather an observation about people in general and why they refuse to hold the ruling political class accountable for the mess they've created. People who are in debt themselves probably don't see a problem with the mouth breathers in DC.

      And no, I don't want failure - unfortunately the mindless lemmings who keep voting for democrats and republicans have ensured that we most definitely will.

      But please, "starving the beast?" Miniscule reductions in spending increases warrants that sort of over-reaction? See, that's the attitude that has led us to a $17 trillion hole that we will never climb out of. Again, how much is ENOUGH when it comes to federal spending?

      Here's the funny part about people who defend every dime the gubmint spends and are never happy with the amount - they always point to the legitimate functions like schools, roads, etc., and ignore the real problems.

      Delete
    8. Nalu - your comment is spot on - but I have a slightly different version in terms of credit. When I was first married & had one child we purchased a home - on credit - interest rates were high and for many years paying for that home took a large part of our income. Years passed - and we thought the debt would never end - we lived on credit for school fees, college fees, health expenses - but eventually interest rates fell, the child graduated and our debts were paid. We now live without the need of credit cards and home loans. Times change, conditions change - there are times to spend and times to stop spending.

      From the side of reality, this is not a time for governments to stop spending. To quote Charles Pierce
      "Fk The Deficit. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money"
      http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/why-we-should-stop-talking-about-deficit-112912

      As for anonymous who thinks it funny that people discuss legitimate functions of government - the only illegitimate function that is known/worth a mention is the cost of wars started on the basis of a lie.

      Delete
    9. Anon at 5:08 attempts to paint with a very wide brush, creating any number of unfounded assumptions, not to mention several false assertions.

      It's long been shown that you can't construct any analogous relation between household debt and the financing of our government. There simply is no comparison.

      I also see that false equivalency being proffered in relation to the two major parties, yet another simply false assertion. I would venture a guess that there is some commingled libertarian propaganda forthcoming would the discussion go much further, and we all know that usually ends with the demented rallying cry for a return to the gold standard and a wish to attain total privatization. Wide-eyed, yet irrational wishful thinkers there.

      Since Obama took over the deficit has shrunk by half. Whatever else someone says, there's little care or thought given to actualities when 70or 80 percent of the country still thinks the deficit is growing. Anon at 3:33 misguidedly claims no one ever puts a number to revising the tax rates and that's simply not true. I'm going to have to guess that Anon at 3:33 is a part of that 70 or 80 percent who have little actual grasp of the realities.

      Delete
    10. TS,

      Well, you're half right there. The unnecessary and un-Constitutional military actions propogated by republicans and democrats in order to prop up their no-bid contracts in exchange for payola, errr, I mean campaign contributions, since the end of WWII have been very costly and wholly illegitimate. Although if you try hard enough, I'm sure you can come up with many more examples that are worth a "mention."

      Here's a little hint for ya: corporate welfare of any kind. Big Oil, Big Banks, Big Autos, Big Solar Panels, Big, Big, Big, Big, Big!!!!!! Get the big picture?

      Delete
    11. TS, I had the same experiences with credit as you did when we were starting out. I grew up in a family where you only used credit for a house or a car, and you paid it off as quickly as you could. And that's what we did. I didn't mean to imply that it is simple. We alway tried to live under our means, and I was fortunate enough to go to college when you didn't have to mortgage your future to do so. (A semester at ASU in 1981 cost $300. That's per SEMESTER, not per credit hour.)
      I love your comment-"Times change, conditions change - there are times to spend and times to stop spending." That is what people don't seem to understand.
      I think people are so fearful and frustrated that they feel that somebody has got to pay; and since we don't seem to be able to make the ones who truly caused this pay, well, austerity sounds so Calvinistic and "good" for your soul.
      I mean, someone, somewhere might actully be getting something for nothing (not counting members of the oligarchy) and that just cannot be!
      NaluGirl

      Delete
  21. "An act of lewd acrobats involving a senator, a underage prostitute, a tube of KY-Jelly, and a squid."

    "Sounds great!! What do you call it?"

    "The Aristocrats."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought he meant Bob Menendez.

      Delete
  22. The Republicans have long been attempting to govern through manufactured crisis. Manufactured crisis has become a standard business practice in and out of government. It's been found to be the perfect vehicle to distract the rubes while the profiteers go into the pockets of those distracted by the crisis. Even real crisis is amplified to take a higher degree of advantage of the situation crisis creates. It all stems from a class of people who, despite their claims to the contrary, have lost all sense of propriety or ethical mores. They have become nothing more or less than parasites, vermin.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Amen, brother. Nothing to add to this :-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. My husbands is federal. Between sequestration and the looming government shut down, we are terrified. We, quite literally, have nothing to fall back on. These people are threatening our very lives, and we're helpless in the face of their mean, smug ass-hattedness

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But you can bet THEIR paychecks are sacrosanct. Maybe if it weren't, they'd not be quite so willing to play chicken with peoples lives.

      Delete
    2. Jeff Lamm, most of Congress are independent millionaires. Even getting their pay cut to zero wouldn't effect most of them. In fact I've read recently that the one female member of the house who's only income IS her salary is sort of looked down on there for that very reason.

      Delete
  25. I saw a book once called "The Blackmail Diet" -- the idea was to blackmail yourself into losing weight by making an irrevocable contract to do something you absolutely hated unless you met your goal weight by a certain date. I think, for the author, it was donating his most prized possession to the American Nazi Party. (See? Nazis!) And he actually wrote the donation up and had it notarized or whatever, so that he couldn't get out of it if he didn't lose weight. And, of course, this motivated him to eat less and exercise, because he couldn't bear the thought of losing his favorite thing to the Nazis.

    I keep thinking about this book whenever I read about sequestration. It's the blackmail diet, only fiscally, and Congress is saying, "You know what? Just give our stuff to the Nazis."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Almost. Almost. But not quite.

      You see the difference here is that what they've done is committed to keep *their* favorite stuff, and give *ours* to the Nazis... unless *they* reform their ways.

      I'm sure they'll apologize to us for having no other choice...

      Delete
  26. And those Yahoos in Congress are getting ready to take another 'vacation' from work too! Man, we need to start docking their pay!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A better option would be to pay dock them for every day they meet.

      Delete
    2. Maybe Congress should be forced to work on commission. No results, no pay.

      Delete
  27. Well, I guess all the people who don't want to pay the government to do anything are going to find out what-all the government actually does, when they stop doing it...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really more a matter of how much money they waste on what they shouldn't be doing.

      Delete
    2. Like preparing numerous contingency plans for budget cuts?

      Delete
    3. They certainly waste money on having building for congress to use 24/7 - should rent space somewhere on a part time basis.

      One can only pray that Anon who thinks government shouldn't be doing what they are doing (a comment that surely applies to the GOP in congress) - is part of the group who suffers major problems when government spending stops. May the storms come with no government money to assist the recovery. If you haven't lived for weeks on end without power - you just haven't lived at all.

      Delete
    4. TS,

      Yeah, because the gubmint has done a real bang-up job in the aftermath of Sandy, huh? *Facepalm*

      Delete
  28. Ya know - in a parliamentary type of government, a parliament that refused to conduct the business of government in a good faith manner would be dissolved, and new elections called. Just sayin'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh....yeah, thanks for pointing that out.

      There's a couple of little problems here--first, we do not _have_ a Parliamentary system over here. And second, how do you propose we get one over here? Because the chances of me marrying Bar Raphael are much, much greater than getting a Parliamentary system to replace the current form of government.

      Delete
  29. What an extraordinary piece. I understood this relatively well, yet you just doubled or tripled my knowledge. Thanks!

    I would much prefer to see the 2% across the board cut that the right-wing lie machine keeps claiming we are getting. How does it make sense that preschool funding and childhood vaccinations should be chopped 6%, while not one nickel can be cut from Social Security or Medicare? Which generation is our nation's future, after all? Surely if belt-tightening is so easy, all those folks getting old-age welfare could survive a 2% cut in their monthly checks?

    Dewey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Social Security is not part of the budget. If you cut Social Security, it would have no impact on the budget.

      Delete
    2. Anon@4:22

      If you had a better understanding of the situation you'd recognize that there's little need for any cuts and if you had a better understanding of what is needed going forward you wouldn't be advocating any kind of trade-offs between your fellow citizens. We have the ability to take care of every need, we have the ability to fulfill the promise of American ideals which have been allowed to slip by the wayside. We just need to invest in ourselves and stop allowing the new oligarchs to dictate terms to us. The problem lies in the massive and growing imbalance of wealth in this country. Doing one's fair share is a responsibility, not something that you should be allowed to opt in or out of at a whim. Don't buy into the false narratives and the erroneous indoctrination being offered up, you're only setting yourself and your countrymen to fail should you become complicit in that criminal endeavor.

      Delete
    3. OLD AGE WELFARE? Anon@ 4:22, I have PAID into social security all of my working life. It is not an entitlement and it is not old age welfare. You obviously really didn't understand the above essay. Preschool education and vaccination are being cut because we have another made up crisis, hence the title "Sequestration and Self Inflicted Wounds". I'm a teacher, but I am going to say it...you are an example of the "failure of public education". Bonnie

      Delete
    4. Joe Blow -- Very well put. We have the ability, the money is there. Ensuring that every American has a reasonable chance at a decent life is a responsible we ought to embrace, and paying for that is something we should do gladly, without the hand-wringing and whining about "takers."

      Delete
  30. It seems to me that this should be called secastration....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now THAT is funny. Although it doesn't quite fit. The economic terrorists that republicans and democrats keep electing and re-electing to congress (the opposite of 'progress' as Gallagher correctly noted) lack even more testicular fortitude than they do intellectual firepower to do what's right. One thing you can take to the corporate welfare-subsidized bank is that it's ALWAYS party over country for the Rs and Ds.

      Delete
    2. There it is again, that lame attempt to lump Democrats together with Republicans when there is not an equivalence as suggested in the attempt. There are vast differences between the Republicans and Democrats, they are not comparable and no, it's not always party over country for all. That's simply irresponsible nonsense.

      Delete
    3. Joe,

      They're two sides of the same dirty coin. But apparently their kabuki dance is working, because people hoodwinked into supporting either side spend so much time arguing with each other that they aren't the same pile of steaming crap that it lets them get away with pretty much anything they want. THAT is party over country. Every. Time.

      Delete
    4. While I don't completely agree with Anonymous and his equal distaste for both Democrats and Republicans, there is a grain of truth in his delusions. Yes, the so called "Party of No" has been majorly confrontational, obstructionist and singularly unhelpful in getting anything done since President Obama was elected. In truth, that is an oversimplification because there were some Republicans that were working to do the jobs needed to be done. But there are also Democrats that have misdirected, or even outright lied to the American Public about the situations they were debating in Congress. Democrats are not exempt from the fact that Congress - as a whole - has failed to do the job and now we - the governed - will pay for that failure. All of Congress needs a wake up call - Dems and Republicans alike.

      Delete
    5. Moorcat, you haven't proven Anons misguided and false preconception.

      Pointing to a few outliers doesn't negate the larger political reality. It's disingenuous and just as off the mark as trying to contend there is some equivalency between both parties.

      When you make a statement like 'Congress failed to do the job', you do not account for what actually caused that failure. You've made the mistake of creating what's called a 'sweeping generalization' and a generalization very seldomly reflects actualities.

      Do I attempt to deny there might be Democrats who need to be replaced with better, more conscientious Democrats. No, I don't. But those few don't reflect the majority.

      I've already made the allowance that there might be Republicans who aren't bat s hit crazy, but they are, or have been effectively silenced, so what good have they been? A very few have been able to resist the pressure that's put on them.

      A 'grain of truth' isn't worth much of anything other than providing a tenuous toehold for people who wish cling to their delusions. A grain of truth doesn't negate or refute the larger reality.

      Delete
    6. First, it is not my "job" to prove anything. I simply made an observation about your generalization that "Republicans = bad, Democrat = good". That is just silly on it's face. All politicians are people and some are good, some are bad. It seems that at this point in time, the majority of Republicans are promoting a self destructive courses for America and I will grant that their dislike/hatred of President Obama is quite likely a strong motivator for it.

      That said, not all Republicans are self destructive, idiotic gets and (at least in the Senate) it does not take a majority of them to "see the light" for something to get done. If a majority of Democrats and even a minority of rational Republicans work together, something can be accomplished (and some things have been accomplished).

      Instead of sticking your rather self destructive paradymn, it might be more helpful to identify the rational Republicans and target them with citizen appeals instead of throwing up your hands in utter defeat.

      Delete
    7. You might notice that I never postulated that Democrat = good, Republican = bad.

      That's a construct wholly derived from your own imagination. Makes me wonder if in fact you did read what I did write, because you won't find that in any comment I advanced.

      I said there is not any equivalence between the two. They aren't both doing the same thing, there is no instance of them 'both doing it', whatever 'it' might be, they both act differently, they both have different proposals for public policy. There is not any grain of truth in Anon's delusion. His delusion is what's known as erroneous yet commonly accepted knowledge, and like so much commonly accepted 'knowledge', ....it's unfounded and nonsensical. It's born out of political spin and has no basis in reality.

      You attempted to proclaim there was 'a grain of truth in Anon's delusion. There's not, but it's your claim, no? You should, whether you think it's your 'job' or not, at the least be prepared to defend or substantiate your opinions. Else you're just setting out random unstrung thoughts devoid of context and lacking objective substance. To each their own I guess.

      You attempt to assign a what you call a 'generalization' to me that I have not advanced.

      That's nothing more than a form of rhetorical gamesmanship that you weren't very adept at.

      In the end, Moorcat, there is no 'self destructive paradigm' except for the additional strawman construct you're hoping to bring life to.

      I've not thrown up my hands in any defeat, let alone this mythical and fictional 'utter defeat' you've hoped to have constructed to assist you in your rhetorical evasions.

      You've also stated, (narrowly), that not all Republicans are self-destructive idiotic gets, (the qualifier you add is 'at least in the Senate'.

      If you think it helpful to identify rational Republicans? Why didn't you do so ?

      Delete
  31. I thought about making a list of sheeple that are buying the right-wing, tea party, and radio pubicrats arguments, and shame them in the public square, but I decided against it, just let you know we know who you are, and shame on you. The lies are shortlegged and cannot take you fast enough into the secuestration hole to hide your faces...

    ReplyDelete
  32. If you aren't appalled, your aren't paying attention!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Dont you get bored with "Great job!" all the time? Wouldn't you just once like to see, "Sorry, Jim, not your best work." ? There's little humor here, but damned if I didn't learn some shit. Write something a little off your game sometime ... Throw a cynical critic a bone, for cryin' out loud ...

    ReplyDelete
  34. "And now here it is, 2013, and they still can’t believe that Obama won reelection. It pisses them off. As a result, they’ve decided to make the entire country pay for their humiliation."

    "The commenter is correct. Obama did underestimate conservatives – he didn’t think they’d be suicidal or insane enough to actually risk crashing the economy of the United States, maybe even the whole world, to make a political point."

    It's unfortunate how true the above statements are. I applaud the President for how he conducts himself. He doesn't need to stoop to the GOP's level. They are bumbling fools and are getting increasingly crazier.

    Jim - Have you ever thought about writing a book?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Every time I see a reference to the "Democrat Party", I immediately stop reading that post or article because I refuse to let anyone waste my time who cannot correctly name the largest political party in the United States.

    Hence, I spend approximately ZERO time reading the sewage published by the likes of Coulter, Limbaugh and their ilk.

    As an aside, I recently read that a fairly large majority of Americans believe, correctly, that our current woes are the fault of the Republican Party. I expect that the Teabaggers and their Republican lackeys will get their dumb asses kicked in the next election.

    Superb article, as usual, Jim. Many thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  36. One small correction, Jim.

    "And, hell, Congress already has the next crisis, the reoccurring debt ceiling showdown, scheduled for the end of March"

    The fight that will occur March 27th is over whether the Federal Government will continue to operate, not the Debt Ceiling (though I am sure we will hear all about the Debt Ceiling during that debate). The current "continuing resolution" to fund the Federal Government ends March 27th and without Congressional action, the Federal Government is no longer funded after that date and has to close it's doors.

    ReplyDelete
  37. You're Wright, jim (arrgghh !).
    President Obama has consistently and repeatedly underestimated the venality of the Republicans.
    If he'd done the right thing in the first place and said that he would veto any bill that allowed the Bush Tax cuts to continue (and maybe even done it), we'd be nowhere near where we are today.
    As Atrios has said: "Solve the jobs problem and the deficit goes away. The reverse isn't true."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obama should not have continued the Bush Tax Cuts, but I understand why he did. He traded the extension for extending unemployment payments. Those unemployed needed the money to keep roof over head, groceries on table, utilities paid. So he extended the cuts. Damn. If he just could have done otherwise.....But reality intrudes.

      Delete
    2. I agree there were considerations, but sooner or later, the issues keep coming back. They hate the President; they hate his wife; they even hate his children. It's time to draw the line.

      Delete
  38. What a bunch of morons on that Yahoo comment thread.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Not to mention that the damage done by cutting SNAP is permanent and not reversible by giving more food later on. So yet another generation fucked over.

    Plus with cutting back some of these programs will lead to them running higher long term costs (by loss of price reduction contracts from buying on volume, delaying purchases means paying the increase from inflation, etc). Also the resultant health and social issue from all those kids we're damaging by allowing SNAP and Medicaid funds to be cut.

    ReplyDelete
  40. As usual Jim ,thanks for a succinct and informative explanation of this "Sequestration" mess. I've rather unfortunately had my eye off the ball of American politics lately.

    ReplyDelete

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