Everyone's talking right now about sequestration, a confusing term that essentially means $85 billion in cuts will automatically go into effect at the end of this week if lawmakers can't come to some sort of last-minute compromise.
The problem with sequestration isn't that it cuts spending -- because I think we'd all agree that the government needs to cut spending. It's that no one has any input as to where and how those cuts are made. Sequestration means that every agency loses funding -- period.
And these automatic cuts will affect pretty much all of us in some very frustrating ways.
Sequestration was introduced in 2011 as a way to force lawmakers to come to a compromise. The theory was that sequestration would be so awful, no one on Capitol Hill would want it to happen, and they'd do whatever it took to come to an agreement before the sequestration deadline.
Ha ha. Think again.
In a post on Slate, John Dickerson explains the disagreement between Democrats and Republicans very well:
The two parties need to come to an agreement on how to spur economic growth to spread prosperity and reduce the budget deficit. The president believes growth comes from a balance of tax increases, investment, and spending reductions. Republicans believe growth comes through lower taxes and spending reductions, which in turn will spur companies to hire and invest. The president believes that taxes should increase as a matter of fairness because the system is tilted in favor of the wealthy and well-connected. Republicans believe that the federal government is already taking an unfair amount of taxes from everyone.
Here are just a few of the ways the automatic budget cuts are expected to affect us if they go into effect March 1:
-800,000 civilian Defense Department employees could be forced to go on unpaid leave.
-Funding to national parks will be cut, resulting in fewer hours for public visitors and reduced trash collection. Ew.
-The Federal Aviation Administration would have to furlough 600,000 employees, meaning longer waits in the security line at the airport and more time on the tarmac, with fewer air traffic controllers on staff.
-Benefits under the military's Tricare health insurance program for active military personnel and veterans are expected to be cut.
-600,000 women and children receiving assistance from the federal Women, Infants, and Children program are expected to stop receiving help.
-Obviously, the economy in general is expected to suffer as people react to the cuts and stop spending money.
I'm all for finding smart ways to reduce spending, but this sequestration business is ridiculous. At one point will Congress find a way to work together and start coming up with real solutions?
This is getting ridiculous!
Do you think sequestration will really happen at the end of the week, or do you think another last-minute miracle will occur on Capitol Hill?
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