Few places are more hospitable to bad ideas than Washington, D.C., and in the looming budget cuts called the “sequester,” a bad idea has come into its own.
Unless the GOP-controlled House makes a deal with President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate, the U.S. government will have some of its spending cut.
Let us for a moment savor the difficulty of the above paragraph ever actually happening. The GOP has its single chamber in its control after the carnage of the 2012 election, and is asserting its veto over national policy, even with a re-elected president. It’s a recipe for more deadlock, instead of compromise.
And that’s the conditions for the dreaded sequester: About $85 billion in automatic budget cuts.
The cuts were adopted after the GOP fiasco of 2011, its battle with Obama over raising the government debt ceiling. The idea is that the sequester cuts are so bad, military and domestic, neither side would allow them to come to pass.
Here we are, as the sequester is set to begin on Friday.
The domestic agencies are dramatizing the cuts, talking about closing national parks and taking other highly visible steps to embarrass the GOP budget-cutters. The budget-cutters, for their part, are oblivious to what they will admit privately, that across-the-board budget cuts aren’t good business; the good is cut with the bad without any sense of priorities.
Nor is there an appreciation of the potential impact of the sequester on the general economy: We’re talking about taking a lot of money out of circulation just when more economic activity is needed.
Is the sequester the end of the world? Agencies can adjust, despite the doom-mongering we are hearing, but at some point, those cuts will really hurt.
And in the long term, the U.S. government has to operate with less money, although the most money is in entitlements — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Those are the drivers of the deficit, and are exempt from the sequester.
Every dog has its day. The same with the bad idea of the sequester.