Chicken Little lacked the aggressiveness of DC’s political fabulists, but he was just as wrong. The sequester has real consequences, yet in our world the sky is not falling. And despite stylish braying, when we awaken tomorrow grannie and the little kids will still be alive and cared for.
The spending cut of $1.2 trillion over 10 years starts with $85 billion, just 2.4% of the $3.553 trillion the Administration plans to spend in 2013.
At least once, many American consumer families have experienced a 2½% drop in available funds, or worse. They’ve had the sense to make do through cut-backs in discretionary outlays; such as restaurant meals, high-priced lattes, entertainment, vacations, delayed automobile replacement, nixed haute couture shopping sprees, and foregone car detailing. They have the sense to preserve spending on good nutrition, regular health care, core education and keeping the mortgage payment current. They don’t need advice from scaremongers – they have the common sense they were born with.
Evidently, common sense has been sequestered in DC. But official screeching on the horrors of sequester is in surplus. Arne Duncan from Department of Education claimed teachers will be pink slipped, but had to walk that canard back. Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano warned of travel delays through Homeland Security’s TSA and other cutbacks — so far so good, but then she blamed others for not warning her about 5,000 illegal immigrant detainees who were released, allegedly as a budget saving tactic.
The White House warned that sequesters would force choosing between care for poor kids and care for sick kids, and added a tall story about the serious harm that sequestration would do to government janitors. That story of political convenience was so false that it earned him a 4 Pinocchio award. Our politicians were clearly on a mission to outdo Chicken Little. They succeeded.
But not all government workers are birds of a feather. Given a 2.4% spending authority cut, some departments have made reasonable plans to comply; the FAA and the Dept. of Defense began furloughs and cutting contractor positions, and tours in the White House were halted to save $18,000 per week.
But what about the hideously expensive travel for White House entourage on those quasi-campaigning junkets? What about making government agencies becoming more productive?
Think again. As the Department of Agriculture warned its staff, “However you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.” They didn’t want junior staffers thinking up better ways to deliver public services. After all, real politicians never let a good crisis go to waste.
Alan Daley is a retired businessman who lives in Florida and who follows public policy from a consumer’s perspective.