Monday, February 25, 2013

The Rope-A-Dope Of Sequester

     In August of 2011, while the Republicant House of Representatives negotiated with itself for a deal that would raise the debt limit on the national credit card, President Obama and Senate Democrats cooked up a big pot of sequester stew. Republicants, so hungry for approval from the President and the national media, scarfed down the stew and during the recent fiscal cliff negotiations asked for a second helping.
     The Sequester, from a purely political standpoint, was a masterfully executed rope-a-dope scheme that gave Barack Obama the ability to escape blame for being the only President to presided over a U.S. credit downgrade, increase the debt that caused it, allow the country to wallow in an anemic economy and get re-elected. Of course I don't know how masterful he had to be to pull one over on John "Bonehead" Boehner. I would love to play poker with this guy because he folds every hand. In fact, using the poker analogy, Mr. Boehner "negotiating" with the President would be analogous to someone who gives all their money to their fellow players before the game even starts.
     The same deal that created the Sequester (mandatory cuts in defense and domestic programs) also created the Super Committee made up of six Republicants and six Democrats. The job of the Super Committee was to come to an agreement on a trillion dollars in responsible budget cuts to avoid the "indiscriminate" cuts of the sequester. It mattered little that the very formation of the Super Committee was an admission by Congress that they found their job too difficult and relieved themselves of the responsibility of their sacred trust by outsourcing it to the Super Committee. To make matters worse, the much smaller Super Committee found it impossible to agree and disbanded, setting up the automatic cuts of the Sequester. Congress' inability to cut the unsustainable spending by the federal government is a little like someone watching a loved one drown and not being able to decide which of the many life preservers available to throw them to save their life.
     I say, "Bring on the Sequester." Even the cuts in defense are not real cuts but reductions in the rate of anticipated growth. And besides, they only amount to 50 billion dollars a year. Put into perspective, the Federal Reserve is spending 85 billion dollars a month buying U.S. bonds in order to keep interest rates historically low and drive investor money into stocks for the purpose of pulling the President's fat out of the fire.
     In the final analysis, we need real cuts to the federal budget which would require spending less money not more but just less than we expected to spend. The penny plan, or something like it, would be a common sense way to balance the budget and set this country on the road to paying off our debt. The plan requires that spending levels be frozen and one penny get cut from every dollar that the federal government spends each year. This one penny of cutting, along with freezing spending would balance the budget within five years and pay off the debt in a relatively short time after that. But common sense is in short supply in Washington, and where common sense is not voluntarily applied the cold reality of numbers eventually will take command. And God help us all when that happens.

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