Perhaps it is best to think about the political gridlock and massive dysfunction on Capitol Hill as just another storm in a politically turbulent climate.
If you don’t understand what a “sequester” is, you aren’t alone. There are a few different meanings, but for this instance and in Washington, it is the $85 billion worth of across-the-board cuts to the federal budget.
By 2023, $1 trillion will have been cut thanks to the sequester and that’s on top of the projected $1.5 trillion cuts that were passed in 2011. Overall, projections place total cuts for the next decade at $4 trillion.
A couple of years ago, during the debt-ceiling fiasco that resulted in a downgrade of our national credit rating, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. The sequester was a part of the law and was designed to force a deal.
I say “force” because, by its nature, sequestration is something lawmakers actively avoid. It is designed to be so painfully unpleasant that they will do anything to avert it.
These cuts are so devastating that the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that about 750,000 jobs will be lost and that’s just from the current $85 billion in cuts that took effect Friday.
It will also be devastating to the poorest and most vulnerable in our country.
Congress would do anything to prevent the loss of so many jobs in a weak economy, right? They wouldn’t take action that hurt those who are already suffering the most in this economy, would they? A deal – that didn’t happen.
While most economists agree that a mixture of spending cuts and increased revenue (higher taxes on the wealthy) is the best solution, Republicans on the Hill have refused to budge.
The president proposed the mixed approach. Republicans then demanded deep cuts with no tax raises. End of story.
Remember the recent “fiscal cliff?” A deal wasn’t reached on setting new tax rates until the last second, where the Bush-era tax cuts were made permanent for all annual incomes below $400,000 (the best approach would have been extending them for annual incomes below $250,000).
That projected $700 billion in new revenue was narrowly achieved.
Rachel Maddow, host of the MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” first characterized the sequester as part of a storm in a larger, more turbulent political climate on her show Friday.
She described the current stormy political season as the “crap storm calendar,” a timeline that began when Tea Party Republicans took over the House in January 2011.
She chronicled the mess: In 2011 alone, the House threatened to shut the government down twice and its aversion to raising the noncontroversial, self-imposed debt ceiling until the last second resulted in a downgrade of the nation’s credit rating.
In December, there was the fiscal-cliff fiasco. Now it’s the sequester. In March, we’re up for another debt ceiling fight. Hooray.
The Republican National Committee called the cuts “devastating.” Yes, the same party that has called for across- the-board cuts, measuring in the trillions of dollars, is now calling the cuts “devastating” after the president signed the sequester into law.
Never mind the fact that, according to a New York Times report, the House is happy with how things turned out.
The good of the country be damned – the GOP has leverage against the president! This is exactly what the House wanted. Let us all hope that the House is shaken up in 2014. This stormy season is wreaking havoc on America.
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