Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sequester Clarity

This is a reasonable-sounding article about the politics, on both sides, of the current state of affairs regarding the sequester. There's blame to go around, with both sides making things harder.

There are two main problems with sequestration. The first is that the $1.1 trillion in budget cuts happen in an idiotic, across-the-board fashion. Think farm subsidies are less valuable than medical research, and thus should take a bigger cut? Too bad. Sequestration is too dumb to tell the difference.
The second is that sequestration slams the economy while it’s weak.... 
... Republicans took a first step toward a solution last week, when Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed a bill giving President Barack Obama authority to implement sequestration with a scalpel rather than a meat cleaver. 
The Inhofe-Toomey proposal wouldn’t change the basic character of the cuts. ... For the most part, however, their plan would give the executive branch the ability to select cuts within those parameters.

It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate how weird this is: The Republican solution to sequestration is to give the White House -- this White House! -- more power to decide how the federal government spends your money. 
What happened next was, if anything, even weirder: The White House declined. 
The Obama administration thinks the Inhofe-Toomey bill makes both the politics and the policy worse. The politics are worse because the White House would own the budget cuts; after all, they’d be the ones making them. The policy is worse because using a scalpel would make the cuts easier to live with, which makes sequestration harder to replace with legislation more to the White House’s liking...

It's yet another example of politics trumping common sense. If the president declines because he doesn't want to "own" the cuts, even if making them less painful would be the result, then he's shirking an opportunity for leadership. This is a legitimate conversation to have. Instead, the heat is generated over who's a socialist/Marxist/Nazi/Muslim; makes you wonder what all that conspiracy and hate-fuelled stuff is really about.

When there are opportunities to raise questions about actual policy and political behavior, the idiots are silent. The writer of the above is a liberal.

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