So here I am sitting at the computer writing my column with ice hitting the window. That’s not so surprising in Missouri this time of year. But, what is really freaky is to hear the thunder with it. The news stations warned this morning that we could experience a thunder snowstorm and I guess they were right.
In fact, the forecasters did a great job of predicting and warning us about this storm (or snowmageddon as I am calling it). Last night I had my doubts but this morning I’m convinced. What I’m not so convinced about is the dire warnings from our national political pundits concerning their predictions of the upcoming fiscal armageddon.
I’m pretty confident that most people reading my column are aware that on March 1 there will be automatic cuts to government spending. Of course that could be avoided if there is dramatic action on the part of Congress and the president. Since Congress is taking a little break right now and the president found time to play golf with Tiger Woods, I’m not real confident that they will do much of anything in the next few days to address the sequestration.
As a reminder, the sequestration was designed to force our leaders in Washington to come together to solve our fiscal problems. The brain trust behind this idea thought that by making these cuts so drastic that both sides would surely have to agree to some kind of compromise. They designed the cuts to hurt programs favored by both ends of the political spectrum so as to insure that rational minds would come together to find a way to keep this from occurring.
Did I just use the term “rational minds” to describe anything happening in Washington? Maybe I got struck by a thunderbolt this morning and didn’t realize it. We are so polarized in this country that I’m not sure there was ever any real chance that a compromise could be reached.
Of course, this was supposed to have already happened but the politicians were able to kick the can down the road for another few weeks. But, eventually the can is going to get worn down to the point where it ain’t gonna go too far when it gets kicked and that’s where we are now.
But, I have to question just how devastating these cuts are really going to be. Now, those that want more tax revenue so they can continue to rack up more and more debt are going to say that people will now go hungry, crime is going to go up because of law enforcement layoffs and national defense is going to be affected.
If these cuts actually do go into effect, I’m sure that we going to feel them in some way. That’s because we are going to be actually cutting government spending for the first time in a long time. And how much will that cut be? According to my research, the sequestration would cut $85 billion this year out of a budget of just a little over $3 trillion. That amounts to 2.8 percent.
Yep, you read it right, 2.8 percent. Of course some parts of the budget are going to be hit by a lot worse than that because of all the programs that are exempt from the cuts. One of those exempted is the pay of federal employees. So instead of everyone taking a little cut, some folks are going to get furloughed while others continue to receive their full pay.
Now, this could have been prevented if Congress would actually pass a budget and live within that budget like we have to do at the state level. Now, where would the fun be in that? According to a lot of pundits on the left, a $16.2 trillion dollar deficit is not that big a deal and besides, we could solve it if we just spent more taxpayer dollars to stimulate the economy. How has that worked out for the last four years?
I’m going to leave you with a quote from Secretary of State (and former U.S. Senator) John Kerry. He said that the fiscal impasse is a serious threat to American credibility around the world — “Think about it: It is hard to tell the leadership of any number of countries that they must resolve their economic issues if we don’t resolve our own.”
I wonder how he would propose to resolve the crisis if he was still in the U.S. Senate? I have a feeling that it would be a little different than my solution.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.