The Sequester is coming! Budget cuts are coming! The cuts were randomly assigned across both domestic and military spending. So the most important question is... who gets blamed for the disaster that $85 billion in ham handed cuts will produce?
First, why is $85 billion from a multi-trillion dollar budget a disaster? The answer is, because it was designed to be... by the White House staff. Rather than try to target cuts based on importance of programs, they distributed the cuts across a relative few favored programs of both Democrats and Republicans. The idea was to make the whole idea so painful that no one would actually let it happen. In fact, the original hope was that the very threat of such draconian cuts would force Republican negotiators to agree to compromise on the balanced "cuts and revenue" approach to deficit reduction during the last few days of the fiscal cliff debate. There was little chance of that. Speaker Boehner's immediate response was that Americans believed the tax increases were over. That wasn't true, of course, but he hoped voters would believe it, so he stuck to it. By doing so, he cut off any chance of the Republican/TEA Party majority in the House of Representatives considering compromise.
House Speaker Boehner
The upshot of all the wishing and hoping was that the White House plan was accepted, allowing the fiscal cliff to be voted past the 2012 election, until March 4, 2013Â—next Monday. It was hoped that by that time cooler heads would have prevailed, in part by having some of the hotter ones voted out of office. It now appears that none of that happened, or at least not enough of it, and the USA will see the absurdity of self-inflicted punishment hammering essential services equally with programs bloated with pork. Of course, which programs are essential versus which are pork laden depends upon who is making the choice. It seems fairly self-evident, however, that dropping a few billion from the military budget will have less permanent impact than several weeks of seniors going without the food and medicine provided by federal programs. And perhaps a reduction in highway spending might be preferable to reducing already marginal services to physically wounded and PTSD scarred veterans. In light of the looming disaster, Speaker Boehner has been trying to sell the idea that this is the President's Sequester, because he proposed it in the first place; and that the President ought to be responsible for deciding which cuts go where. The President is having none of it.
When the White House staff first proposed the idea to Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat Party's Senate leader, he was most unhappy. His own staff had suggested it a week or so earlier, and he had rejected it on the basis that the Obama staff would come up with a plan that would get the "fiscal cliff" debate settled for good and all. But the White House came up with the same plan. Despite Speaker Boehner attempting to claim that the whole problem was created by the President, and the present situation is all his fault, the Speaker's plea is falling on deaf ears. The President has made a business of pointing out that the idea came about because the House gave him a "Do it our way, or don't do it at all," ultimatum before the election, and that Speaker Boehner is saying essentially the same thing today. The President and the Republican/TEA Party are doing what one commentator calls the "Washington Dubstep." The dance accomplishes nothing, but neither side ever learns that, believing that if they are just good enough at their particular dance, the opposition will have to agree to do things their way. They're never good enough, and in today's political climate, no opposition politician is going to "do things their way."
But to answer the original question, voters have already weighed in on who is at fault here. By a wide marginÂ—49 percent to 31 percentÂ—they see the Republican/TEA Party in Congress as the obstruction in the road to success in this matter. Seventy-six percent of all voters polled in a recent Pew poll believe that the House of Representatives ought to approve a tax plan that includes a small increase for the wealthiest of Americans. After all, they are supposed to be the "job creators," using that lower-taxed money to create jobs... but they're not doing any such thing. So people tend to believe that they can pay a little more of the government's costs if they aren't going to provide the jobs they keep claiming as justification for the lowest taxes at their income level in generations.
Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons
Copyright 2013, RC Larlham, All rights reserved to author.