Weren’t we just here?
Looming financial crisis, politicians screaming about how it’s the other party’s fault, doomsday predictions about the catastrophes that await if the nation’s money woes aren’t solved.
This time, instead of falling off the fiscal cliff, we’re headed for the sequester. Different name, but both a manufactured crisis imposed upon taxpayers by our federal politicians.
Our lawmakers have yet again demonstrated that the only way they know how to operate is through a continuous cycle that consists of spending money they don’t have, kicking financial decisions down the road with the false promise they’ll spend the ensuing months working on a smart solution, a frantic call for action when faced with draconian cuts and blustering indignation that it’s all the other party’s fault.
The sequester was agreed upon in the Budget Control Act of 2011 as political parties battled over the debt limit. The act required $1.2 trillion in future budget cuts, with a requirement that Congress find another $1.2 trillion in future cuts.
If the designated congressional super-committee didn’t sacrifice enough on the fiscal chopping block, cuts would automatically go into effect March 1, 2013.
President Barack Obama wants to make cuts and raise taxes to reach that amount. Republicans want the cuts, but no tax increases.
Safe from the budget ax are entitlement programs – those that actually drive the level of debt but would be political suicide to even consider touching – such as Social Security, veterans’ programs, Medicaid and food stamps.
If Friday comes with no deal, the sequester eventually could mean smaller checks for the unemployed, furloughs for government workers, flight delays at the airport, less money for heating aid for the poor, and weakened border patrols. The list of possible ramifications is long.
In Illinois, the White House estimates the sequester would result in, among other cuts, the loss of $33.4 million for primary and secondary education, the elimination of Head Start and Early Head Start services for about 2,700 children, and the furlough of about 14,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, reducing gross pay by about $83.5 million.
There’s no doubt spending restraints and cuts are needed.
But we are tired of these decisions being made at the last minute, when what’s smart is overshadowed by hasty decisions to beat an arbitrary deadline.
We implore lawmakers to put partisanship aside, make cuts, and actually follow through on promises to do what’s best for the country.