On March 1, 2013 (two days from now) the human-made, totally avoidable, self-inflicted, meat-cleaver budget cuts known as the sequester will take affect. But other than a descent in the stock market, most people will feel…nothing.
Why? March 1 is a Friday. Regardless of any action occurring on a Friday, the world doesn’t react before the next business day, which is the following Monday. Even then, no one will really notice any difference in the world around them. After all, it takes time for the money already paid to run out. The GOP will be claiming, as some loud-mouth ultra-right wing pundits on Faux Noise and hate radio are claiming now, that the sequester was no big deal, that they were right and the democrats wrong, and that they’re winners and the democrats are a bunch of losers and alarmists.
And just like the person who stands at the edge of the beach, sees where the sea and the sky meet and confidently declares that the Earth is clearly flat, the celebrating GOP will likewise be claiming that the sequester is wonderful and we should have one every month. The only problem with that declaration will be that in one month’s time, the effects of the sequester will begin to be truly felt by those ignorant masses known as the at-large electorate, and the GOP will suddenly be racing around trying avoid having to explain how and why they claimed four short weeks earlier that the sequester was good for children and other living things.
The reason for the delayed reaction is that it will take most agencies a month to implement the draconian cuts forced upon them by the sequester. Those cuts will eventually cause reductions in service caused by reduced available resources, including people. In the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Controllers and other safety-related personnel such as technicians and inspectors will begin serving furloughs. So will private-sector controllers. The same will occur at the Transportation Security Agency, including the inspectors at the security gates at airports, as well as food inspectors at the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Senior citizens dependent upon Meals on Wheels will have to find their dinners elsewhere. Unemployment insurance benefits will be dramatically reduced.
Programs that help children such as Head Start, vaccination programs,school lunch programs, etc. will be reduced or suspended completely, leaving needy children without early education, protection against childhood diseases, and the nourishment necessary to stay healthy and alert in school. By April 1, 2013, unless congress finally agrees to compromise on budget reduction that takes into account both revenue increases, entitlement reform and spending cuts, we will begin to see these things actually occur before our eyes.
According to the latest polls, Americans would blame republicans more than they would blame Obama or the democrats for the sequester and inability to reach a compromise. That is why the GOP has been attempting to spin that the sequester was Obama’s idea and his fault. But facts are stubborn things. 23 republican senators out of 44 voted for the sequester, as did 174 GOP congresspeople out of 232. In both cases, a clear majority of republicans voted yes, thus making it a bipartisan action.
All of this really boils down to the fact that conservative republicans teamed with the Tea Party Movement after the 2010 midterm elections and kidnapped the republican party. They subsequently insisted upon a single goal: shrink government by starving it of revenue, forcing abandonment of of all but the most basic programs such as defense and border security; Say no to all tax increases, even if it means children go hungry and unprotected against disease, that food doesn’t get inspected, that oil spills pollute the environment, and that poor people starve to death or die of curable illnesses on the streets; Let big business be free to do whatever it wants, and may the buyer beware.
As a result, the GOP refuses to compromise on deficit reduction, even when it involves closing tax loopholes that benefit the very rich. They would rather preserve $8 billion a year in corporate welfare to the enormously profitable oil companies than pay for school lunches for the poor. After all, those poor kids can’t come anywhere close to matching the campaign contributions that the oil companies routinely donate to the republicans, can they?
Thus, the democrats are betting that the republicans will paint themselves into a corner with their refusal to budge. They have every reason to believe that more Americans than not will remember the harm done by the sequester and blame the republicans more than the democrats during the 2014 mid-term elections, which are, after all, only 18 months away.
In truth, it’s a national disgrace that the USA is even putting itself through this. But the American people elected these inflexible ideologues into office.
Why would they now expect that they’re going to be flexible and logical?