By Nick Davis
Welcome to day 1 of sequestration. As President Barack Obama so eloquently put it the day after he signed Obamacare into law, “I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling, some cracks opening up in the earth… turned out to be a pretty nice day.” That’s right. Unless you’re a public school official, have a child in primary or secondary school, civilian defense personnel, or live in a military community, you’re unlikely to feel the direct effects of the sequester.
Let me be clear, in no way am I trying to minimize the hardship that these groups face. It’s rather unfortunate that our lawmakers have allowed our children and military to take the brunt of the spending cuts. But, let’s take a moment to really analyze the amount that is being cut here. Of our $3.5 trillion budget, only $85 billion is being cut for this fiscal year, approximately 2% savings according to my own rough math, just a drop in the bucket as I alluded to in my fiscal cliff blog last month.
According to the President and congressional Democrats, this relatively small cut would be catastrophic for the economy. Meanwhile, John Boehner and Republicans want Obama to stop his supposed ‘fear mongering’ and make a concerted effort to make substantive cuts. This political theatre shouldn’t surprise you in the least though. After last week’s weeklong recess, it should be crystal clear that neither side was ever serious about striking a deal.
Obama vacationed in Florida to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods. Other than the fake Vacationgate scandal about how transparent his Administration was being in not allowing the press corps to vacation with him, there was not much news from the Obamas. Congressional leaders took the same break to head back to their districts and visit with their constituents.
So, significant budget cuts are looming that threaten to plunge the United States back into recession and our lawmakers take a vacation? Nothing exemplifies their unattached attitude than congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. She went on MSNBC and repeatedly defended herself and her colleagues stating that the recess was planned months in advance and it just happened to fall the week before sequestration was supposed to take place. Competent and concerned leadership would have scrapped those plans in order to get a deal in place.
I suspect both sides of playing the ‘wait and see’ game this time around. Both parties have a lot to gain if events play out the way they expect. Obama will have concrete evidence that Republicans are responsible for another downturn in the economy. If these cuts turn out to be nothing more than a blip on the radar, they’ll point to the Senate and President’s budget incompetence.
The reality of the situation is that our representatives in Washington have almost no skin in the game. None of them will struggle to feed their families at night. When I think of their role in this situation, I imagine two stuck up, whiny children standing off to the side driving their remote control cars right at each other to see who will flinch first. If the cars crash, it’s the other side’s fault and they live another day, business as usual.