Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Budget Cuts! The Sky Is Falling! Darn Those Republicans! Sequestration – What? – The Fear, The Drama, the News! – Does Anyone Really Care?





Who do you Trust? Either? - President Obama and Congress - Image: the Economist.com

From the local evening news to the daily paper, the cable news outlets to the network news shows, the urgency and fear in the individual reporter’s (or written piece) voice is apparent. President Obama says we are going to lose teachers, firefighters, and we’ll have a big problem funding education and oh, long lines at the airports!! Why? Those darn republicans are going to force budget cuts on the government! Therefore, the sky is falling. What about those budget cuts? The Bill, and it was a Bill, was first brought up in an agreement on the debt ceiling between the President and the Congress, the President signed the bill.

The OMB - (At whitehouse.gov in PDF) listed the consequences of these horrific cuts. In a report on the Budget Control Act of 2011, it is noted that the actual cuts are based on a requirement of eliminating if 1.2 trillion in federal spending. The Report released in 2012 suggests that he President felt that this method was not a smart way to cut the budget (yet he signed the Act).

The estimates and classifications in the report are preliminary. If the sequestration were to occur, the actual results would differ based on changes in law and ongoing legal, budgetary, and technical analysis. However, the report leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government func­ tions. Under the assumptions required by the STA, the sequestration would result in a 9.4 percent reduction in non-exempt defense discretionary funding and an 8.2 percent reduction in non-exempt nondefense discretionary funding. The sequestration would also impose cuts of 2.0 percent to Medicare, 7.6 percent to other non-exempt nondefense mandatory programs, and 10.0 percent to non-exempt defense mandatory programs


The above appears to be a ton of cuts that might make it difficult for the government to run, of course, these cuts are explained in some detail as to departments and percentages in billions of dollars going further into the documents. It is also notable that these cuts are spread over a period of time, therefore, the first cuts to take place in 2013 are in billions of dollars – cut that are placed on departments that have already received an increase over the previous year’s budget – huh?!!

On Page 6, for example, it suggests that total defense spending must be cut by 54.8 billion dollars. Which, when one understands how budgets operate in Washington D.C., one can understand that taxpayers have been throwing cash at a cow that basically throws that money out of the nearest window. This is the way budgets are run in any department of the U.S. government: For example: If a small department receives a budget of 1 million dollars and during the course of the year, spending only $600,000 to run the department, the balance must be spent before the end of the fiscal year – on anything – in order for that department to receive sufficient funding for the following year – Thus one finds that government department buying Gold-plated hammers (that is sarcasm) at $25 a pop, or replacing the office furniture, and redecorating – all unnecessary – but necessary by the Government theory of budgeting.

The beyond inefficient budgeting method is part of the problem – reading further into this report and looking at what major services to the public are actually getting cut (less than the average American is cutting their grocery bill), Once one looks closely at the budget cuts to defense, one is reminded of President Eisenhower’s warning “Beware the Military Industrial Complex” – and Eisenhower, for those who are not aware, was a Republican.

Go to page 208 in this document to see the dire cuts to discretionary spending – It’s shocking. For example: The National endowment for the arts, may lose 2 Billion out of the 148 slated for the 2013 budget. Similar cuts are seen throughout the article, most of this is concentrated on salaries to those who oversee the programs.

Then there are the exceptions, which begins on page 225. Read it and weep. (Read entire document here at whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/lesitlative_reports/stareport.pdf

An article at Red State today addresses certain funding cuts where said agencies are no longer in existence – See Redstate.com/why are firemen always the first to be laid off?” Good Question, along with teachers and other local employees of the local governments, the budget and salaries are generally paid for by local taxes, and are the responsibility of the city or municipality. The fact that there were additional hires under the stimulus programs to “create jobs”, is sometimes lost, and that those “created jobs” were only going to last as long as the funds did. Once the funds ran out, those newly hired teachers, were now the problem of the State, City, etc. that hired them with the stimulus funds. The Cities, etc. were, consequently on the hook for the unemployment insurance that was sure to follow – since there was no effort to create non-government funded jobs in the private sector.

Therefore, with all the back to back drama coming out of the White House and the Congress with their budget concerns, sky is falling tactics, one can image that the nation wearies of listening to crisis after crisis – In fact, they are also tired of the news, no matter what form it takes. How many people sit up at night and worry about “sequestration” outside of Washington DC and the newsrooms? – Does the average person, after all the “crying wolf” done by the administration and the Congress with the subsequent results: – “Well, we dodged a bullet there!, no more crisis, we can increase the budget!” “We don’t’ ‘have to shut down the government” – really believe anymore that there are serious consequences to any action taken in Washington?

Does Politico believe it?

That’s questionable considering this morning’s article ”Is Obama telling the truth about sequestration?”

In truth that may be a bit of sour grapes, given that Politico may still be on the outs with the Obama administration over that whole Tiger Woods/Golf-Outing/Press not Allowed situation. However, there appears to be a general, and growing, disbelief in the Federal Government in a top down kind of way, along with their extensions, media outlets – from local to national.

Perhaps it’s a lack of trust in Government institutions or those perceived as an arm of the government: See the July 2012 Gallup survey on Trust in Institutions at www.gallup.com/poll/15258/Confidence-Public-Schools-New-Low.aspx: which suggests the following: The lowest approval went to Congress at 13%, in the 20% range: HMO’s, Big Business, Banks, Organized Labor, News (Televised), News (Print), the Criminal Justice System, and Public Schools. In the 30’s: the U.S. Supreme Court and the Presidency, the Most trusted: The Military, Small Business and the Police. (Read full article at Gallup.com)

Although a little less than a year old, the report may not have changed all that much given the circumstances of the governments daily dire straits, histrionics and prolific spending, stonewalling and basic B.S. by both political parties. One might suggest that the general public has had enough.

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