The sequester officially went into effect at midnight yesterday, as the President signed the order mandating it. Addicting Info has an interactive map up to show what your state will be losing in 2013, because of the cuts in federal spending this year. If you read through various comment boards, particularly the ones with a lot of “conservatives,” you’d come away with the impression that these will just mean some “wasteful” spending will be cut. You even see it with many of the supposedly “informed” pundits. After all, it’s only 85 billion, right? The real issue they overlook is something the President said in his press conference: “”We will get through this,” he said. “This is not going to be an apocalypse, I think, as some people have said. It’s just dumb. And it’s going to hurt.” Why is it dumb?
The answer is not in the amount. That would be painful regardless, even ignoring that we are still coming out of a recession. It’s in how those cuts are being made.
According to the explicit language of the budget act (and of the interpretation laid down by the Office of Management and Budget), the Pentagon’s managers are not allowed to pick and choose which programs to cut. That is, they’re not allowed to do what managers are supposed to do in these situations—set priorities, make trade-offs, and align strategy with resources.
Rather, every single program, project, and activity—every line item in the Pentagon budget, from the biggest weapon system to the smallest spare part—has to be cut by that same 9 percent. Not 10 percent or 8 percent or 20 percent or 2 percent (even if it might make more sense to cut some of them by these larger or smaller numbers), but rather by 9 percent.
I bolded the key sentence. This is why “it’s dumb.” This is why there’s a major failure on the part of the media to adequately inform the public. The President has been doing so, but the media “analysts” have been busily promoting the “both sides” talk, and failing to look at the details. Too many are under the impression that these cuts are surgical in nature, that they’re just going to force various administrators to make decisions, when in reality that capability for making those decisions have been removed by the language of the legislation.
This is like saying “I need to lose some weight,” and instead of changing my diet, cutting out some foods, and exercising more, I just lop off a leg. Yes, I will have lost weight, but it wouldn’t be conducive to a better quality of life. As I said in a previous post, the effects of the cuts won’t be felt immediately. It takes time for them to roll out, and the impact (and pain) will be drawn out. But in some cases, the impacts are already being felt, and it’s a lesson.
“Small businesses are telling us that their government contracts are either frozen, not being renewed or canceled in anticipation of budget cuts,” said Kelly Manning, state director of the Colorado Small Business Development Center network.
Colorado Springs is dominated by military installations. These include Fort Carson — the third-largest army base in the country — Peterson Air Force Base and the United States Air Force Academy.
About half of the area’s nearly 20,000 small businesses are subcontractors, contractors or vendors that work on military and other federal and state contracts.
I will admit to a certain schadenfreude about it, because Colorado Springs has been one of my better examples of hypocrisy for quite some time. This is what is already happening and it’s going to rapidly get worse, and spread. Anywhere near a military base, or industry that does business with the military is going to get hit. Then the furloughs happen, and suddenly, all those people who work on those bases are going to have less money to spend. There’s going to be a serious ripple effect throughout those areas – and it’s every state.
Asked why leaders did not negotiate more vigorously to get a deal before sequestration deadline day, Obama said that his ability to negotiate is limited by Congress’s unwillingness.
“I’m not a dictator,” he said. “I’m the president. So ultimately if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say ‘I need to go to catch a plane,’ I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway, right?”
So maybe instead of focusing on “jedi mindmeld,” they should be focusing on what the Republicans aren’t doing: Acting smart. They passed these “dumb” cuts, they’ve dragged their feet ever since, and are now trying to portray them as “a good thing,” or “not our fault.” The reality? It’s not a good thing, and it is their fault It’s one thing to be for losing weight, it’s another to think that chopping off a limb is the way to do it. The Republicans chose the latter. Which is why this is going to be seriously painful: It’s not the amount, it’s the method.