A friend asked me casually the other day if I could explain what’s going on with sequestration.

I started with a brief explanation of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which set up the budget cutting super committee (which failed).   That act also included the sequestration cuts, scheduled to go into effect at the beginning of 2013.

However, that led to the fear that the budget cuts, along with expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cut would push the country over a “fiscal cliff.”

To avoid the fiscal cliff, the sequester cuts of $85 billion were pushed back to March 1st.   Then, depending on whom you believe, those cuts would grind the government to a halt or go largely unnoticed.

The real fight, I explained, will come later this month when Congress tries to decide on a funding mechanism (we don’t have an actual budget).

My friend looked back at me with a blank expression.  Who can blame him?  How can you make sense of a process that has become absurd?

One of the fundamental functions of government is to collect the revenue necessary to pay for the services that people need and desire.   It’s a process millions of Americans go through every day as they weigh the benefit of a particular product or service against the cost.

Practice makes perfect, so most of us are pretty good at it.  Businesses survive or shutter based on fiscal acumen, honed through the years.

Personal financial advisers tell struggling families to make a budget and stick with it.  As Dave Ramsey says, “When you spend your money on paper and on purpose each month with a written budget, you actually experience more freedom than before.”

In Washington, the Congress has not passed a budget since 2009.  The House has sent a number of budgets to the Senate, but that body has not passed a budget in 1,408 days.  Instead, Congress has passed temporary spending measures that the President has approved.

The media are filled with partisan attacks and counter attacks assessing blame.  I follow these, but I’m losing interest.  Where are the adults?

Government is one of the cornerstone institutions of the country.  We have differing opinions about its role, but ultimately it’s important to have confidence in its ability to function.

The failure of government as an institution weakens a civil society.  If we don’t believe the government is going to uphold its end of the bargain, why should Americans do their part?

Someone once said, “Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.”   It’s that ethic which keeps individuals moving forward every day, their collective successes propelling the country ahead.

Where is that ethic in Washington? Why are these people so painfully inadequate at one of the most essential functions of government?  If Washington were failing this badly at another essential function, like national defense, the enemy would be at the gate.

 

 

 

bubble graphic

43

bubble graphic

Comments

  • Uncle Fester

    mntnman, good post.
    I had an Army Major tell me in no uncertain terms one day and has stayed with me all these years:
    "Leadership comes from those who know the way, show the way, and go the way."
    We get none of that from our elected officials, D, R or I. When will we learn???

  • Jim N Charleston

    Skippy,

    If the enemy is at the gate, your gun better be there.

    All I got

  • jethro

    i say vote all the elected officials out next election. republican and democrat and then maybe congress and the president will get their act together . of course i know alice i'm in wonderland

  • mntnman

    Leadership is when someone comes into the room where no one wants to give an inch and finds a way to get both sides to work out a deal. Leadership is where someone proposes solutions that 1) work and 2) gets them passed into law. Leadership is where a person or persons work toward a common interest, keeping strong in their convictions, but nonetheless looking at the big picture and compromising to a workable solution.

    Its just sad, really, that no one seems to be able to lead. Of course, when two people are negotiating, and neither side will move toward the other, negotiations are difficult to move forward. Don't just blame Obama -- you're showing you bias. Don't just blame republicans. You're showing your bias. Both sides are to blame. Both sides have failed.

    Any see any leaders out there? I don't. All I see are two parties who are more worried about being in charge than in solving problems. All I see are a bunch of arrogant, overpaid persons who work to better their lot in life, and that of special interests, while ignoring the common citizen (most of us).

    Hopefully, one day, someone that fits the description of a leader will rise. And we will recognize them and vote for them. For now, we have what we have. Lets hope they can figure it out -- just don't hold your breathe.

    • Shadow

      I don't see two parties fighting. I see one group of people trying to bankrupt the USofA and drive us into Revolution and the other group of people taking the high ground and trying to reestablish us as a vibrant working freedom-loving nation. For myself, I don't see where you can compromise the positions if you believe in Freedom and Human Rights.

      • Hop'sHip

        Shadow: You sure are a black and white kind of guy. And I suspect that is in more ways than one.

    • bulldog95

      Didnt the house give and let Obama get his tax increase? Now he wants more but no cuts?

    • Hop'sHip

      Tell us more, mntnman. How will recognize this majestic leader when he presents himself? Will he ride in on a unicorn?

      • mntnman

        They will ride in on a fabulous steed, tall in the saddle, head back, eyes forward. Of course, the unicorn horn will obscure a good look at their face...

      • Shadow

        He is rising from the ashes like a Phoenix, his name is John Boehner and he is riding a White Horse.

        • GregG

          Sadly, there is many that would go along with that!! If that day should ever come to pass, you can kiss this country good bye.

          • Shadow

            With Obummer, we are 16 trillion on the way and adding over a trillion every year. Buy Gold, guns, and ammo and not necessarily in that order.

      • GregG

        I would just like to know where he/she is going to park their unicorn! Big Pharma, Big Oil and Big Utility own Capital Hill.

    • GregG

      Great post mntnman! I agree 100%

  • Bill Hill

    You ask where the adults are in DC. There are very few. Most in the Halls of Congress act like spoiled tennagers. Mr. Obama and his staff have outdone themselves overstating the effects of sequesteration. Than on top of that doing all in their power to make the reduction in the speed of increase as miserible as possible.

    You do a good job of stating the obvious. We haven't had a budget since 2009. The senate has sit on its butt and done nothing, but postured for reelection. I have to really wonder where our senators actually stand. Do they actually support this childishness? Judging by what I see and hear coming out of DC, they must. West Virginia Representatives to the house haven't done much better. At a time they should be calling for Obama's impeachment for malfeasance of office and for the removal of the Senate Leadership, they are instead doing "nothing". Maybe whining a little bit and that's about it.

    We are a nation in decline. We are declining because we have become a lazy and immoral people. We have trashed a nation that offered great oppertunity, because a majority of our people are too lazy to capitalize on the oppertunity they have before tham and because a majority have turned their backs on moral absolutes. Our choice of leadership, nationally, on the state level, and even local proves that point. Many call ourselves wise, yet our actions and choices prove we are among the most foolish on earth.

    • GregG

      Are you saying Bill, because somewhere in America two gays crawled out of bed together this morning and the nation went to hell? Really?

  • TBone Porterhouse

    Obama has added over $6 trillion dollars to the national debt in 4 years. More than any president in the history of the US. He is spending $1.4 trillion more each year than we take in in revenue. And it was announced yesterday that the US will take in more tax money revenue this year than in any year in history. And yet that is still not enough for Obama and the regressive progressives.
    The enemy is not at the gates, they are in the wire. They are in the White House. The enemy is Obama and the progressives.

  • wirerowe

    Hoppy because of the President's response to the draconian 2.2% cuts as a result of the sequester he has cancelled all tours of the White House by the American people. I would assume that this cancellation for White House visits does not apply to Wall Street donors to his campaign or those who are being shaken down for $50 million to be used to campaign for his second term agenda.

    • susanf

      Not to fear! Shelly Moore Capito, in a magnamious gesture, has offered her services to arrange tours of the Capitol. She can't get anything else done, but she will be a whiz bang tour guide!

    • Hop'sHip

      wireowe: Thanks for keeping us posted on what Fox and Friends is covering. That means we don't have to watch it ourselves.

      • wirerowe

        Hops I never watch Fox News. Was this on Fox?How come you seem to know so much about what is on it. You didn't answer my question Will the white house cancel visits by donors?

        • Hop'sHip

          Probably not. If you want to stay viable in today's politics, you have to cater to the big money interests. Our Supreme Court ratified that idea. But I don't think Obama is that popular on Wall Street. Hollywood, maybe Silicon Valley, but not Wall Street.

  • Shepherdstown

    Until Democrats and Republicans think first of the Nation as a whole and less about their particular constituencies; and much, much less about their ideological extremists we will continue in this fashion.

    We need leaders who worry less about getting reelected and more about doing what is right for the nation.

    No party has a monopoly on what is right.

  • susanf

    We, the American people, hold the key to solving this sequestration mess. You want to cut federal spending? Fine, let's ALL let that April 15 deadline pass w/o sending in our federal taxes and stop being the obedient little sheeple we have been trained to be. Without our tax dollars to spend, cuts will HAVE to be made!

  • Hop'sHip

    Could we please be honest here Hoppy. You don't give a rat's behind about the deficit. Otherwise you would not have supported Romney. A look at his budget shows that it would have increased the deficit by cutting taxes and increasing defense spending while doing absolutely nothing to address the spiraling health care costs that have been largely responsible for our budget problems. His and your response to the health care problem, reducing access. He did propose reducing discretionary domestic spending, which is again what you really want. I have said it a dozen times here. Anyone can look it up. Since the Carter Administration every term of a Democratic president ended with federal spending as a percentage of GDP lower than when the term statted. And every term served by a Republican president ended with spending as a percentage of GDP higher than when they started. The exception was Obama's first term when he started facing the worst recession in two generations. And his second term will surely end with the restoration of the above described pattern. It was Dick Cheney who told us that deficits don't matter and the right wing still believes that. They will cynically feign concern if they think it will give them a political advantage.

  • Tag

    And while you're at it, tell me how well that hope, change and transparency is working.

    • GregG

      It isn't working, nor will it ever work. As long as Big Business and the Ultra-rich control our government we shall continue to weaken as a Nation. A blind man could see that the wider the gap of inequality becomes the worse or economy becomes and the weaker we become as a Nation. As we sit here daily pointing fingers and tossing around terms like "sequestration" and "fiscal cliff" our country is weakening more and more. Yet the wealth of "The Chosen Few" is increasing minute by minute. As I have said many times before, without a strong working middle class that is well compensated, in wage and benefits, this economy is not going to turn around. You can repeat the terms "Reaganomics", "trick-down", "job creators" etc... until your blue in the face. But it is very clear to me that it ISN'T working. I myself keep "hoping" that things will "change". But sadly, regardless of how "transparent" things are, to many refuse to accept what is right before their eyes.

      • Wowbagger

        You know, you are right I wish that big businessmen like ultra-rich George Soros, Warren Buffet, and Michael Bloomberg would quit controlling our government and weaken us as a Nation.

        ... Oh, those guys are all progressive nannys aren't they. I bet you wanted to blame some other nameless, faceless rich people.

      • Shadow

        Have you checked the net worth of Nancy Pelosi, the gal that gave us Obamacare and said we would have to make it law before we could know what bought? The common phrase for that is: Taking a chance on a Indian blanket. Have you checked the net worth of Diane Feinstein who want to disarm us? How about John Kerry? How about Jay Rockefeller? Yep, they are sure poor and unpowerful. Not many Democrats leave Congress poor.

        • bulldog95

          Spot on shadow. I bet they nail every tax write off they can and then some. How many people did Obama try to appoint to his cabinet and decided he shouldnt because they didnt pay any taxes, let alone their fair share? Your point seems to be lost from the blind, useful idiot followers.

  • GregG

    So tell me again how well "Reaganomics" works.

    • Shadow

      It is very simple, more money to the people, less to the government to waste.

      • Hop'sHip

        Right. Waste on crap like sewage treatment plants and modernizing airports, bridges and highways. Who cares if our infrastructure has deteriorated to third-world condition? What is most important is that we have the largest selection of snack foods to choose from! Keep the money in the private sector because, in the words of apparently our guiding philosopher - Larry the Cable Guy - "This is America. We don't just make things you want. We make things you didn't even know you wanted."

        • bulldog95

          There is a place for government, and I have not problem paying my taxes. The problem is that there is money being wasted on studies as to why sewer smells. Could be be because of the turds? Smarting spending, not wasteful spending to friends that just turn around and give back in the form of campaign contributions.

        • Shadow

          Who was it that got us into Viet Nam? We wasted so many lives and dollars on the wrong idea. Who had the highest tax rate so we could try to be the World's policeman? When you pee away money on things like that, there isn't much left over to take care of the infrastructure. As to snack foods, business gives the people what they want... Government gives people what the government thinks they need... We have a bunch of "Control Freaks" trying to run OUR LIVES. Ask yourself, are you one of those types.

          • Shadow

            I looked up Sociopath and I will admit to 4 of 10, not a complete miss for you. However, you accepted being a "Control Freak" and I won't question it. I do ask where did you find in my words where I oppose sewer plants, bridges,etc. I oppose Government spending that produces nothing of significance, like DOE, Commerce, studies of obtuse subjects, duplication of Government functions. Too many to describe here. They are well documented on the internet. As to Iraq, I supported it as aggression but we have been there too long.

          • Hop'sHip

            Well I guess I am a "control freak" if you define it as someone who objects to others putting raw sewage into our waters. So I'll accept your description of me as "control freak" if you accept my description of you as "SOCIOPATH". Don't expect me to defend our Viet Nam adventure, although I find it curious that you didn't pick a more blatant and recent example of waste - Iraq.

  • Wowbagger

    In other news, the state government of West Virginia will experience an absolute 7.5 percent budget cut and no one expects significant reductions in services!

  • Woodchuck

    We need a BUDGET.

  • Ben

    Prepare to hand over your guns, money, land,and freedom! Prepare to to protect yourself and dig in, only going to get worse!!