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Stop sequestration before it stops us
SEQUESTRATION. Isn't that what turns bulls into steers, and stallions into geldings? Not exactly, but some fear the same figurative result when sequestration befalls the federal government--and in turn government workers, their families, and the overall economy.
The ongoing inability of the president and Congress to come to terms on issue after issue is sad, absurd, and simply unacceptable. Trading blame is childish, and the damage stemming from just the anticipation of sequestration--especially in our region--is extensive and unforgivable.
Sequestration provides for across-the-board budget cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years to both defense and non-defense spending. Without an alternative resolution, it takes effect next Friday. It became law in the Budget Control Act of 2011, a tentative "solution" to the fiscal stalemate between the Obama administration and Congress. It is a version of the kick-the-can-down-the-road concept designed to forestall U.S. economic calamity, except this time the frightening black hole of sequestration was placed at the dead end as an incentive for the two sides to act.
Guess what? They have yet to act. They've even kicked the black hole down the road a couple of months.
Now we face the days and months of reckoning as the ax falls and the fallout begins. Services will suffer, government operations will stall, and government workers will face furloughs and job losses. Virginia's dependence on the military--including private contractors--and other government employment leave it particularly vulnerable.
What sequestration does not do is touch entitlement spending--chiefly Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security--the true budget busters that will cost $10 trillion over the next five years. Consider also that baby boomers have only just started turning 65.
We are saddled with not only an unwillingness to lead by all concerned--mustn't upset those constituencies and "bases"--we also have a foolish history of rejected ameliorations because one side doesn't want the other to get credit for offering them. How inane.
For most Americans, the priority is that the growth of our $16.5 trillion federal debt be halted and then whittled down. They get that every American has helped dig this hole--by balking at paying more taxes or refusing to sacrifice benefits--and that every American must help refill it. That means everyone--not everyone but me. The process will be painful, but pain shared is pain more easily endured.