Sequester cuts nothing compared to blows dealt the average American
by Don McKee
March 06, 2013 12:08 AM | 1468 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
The stock market’s bellwether Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high yesterday on the heels of the trigger date for automatic spending cuts in federal spending, a.k.a. sequestration. So apparently investors aren’t worried over the forced cuts and their effect on the economy.

After all, the reduction of $85 billion is only 2.5 percent of $3.8 trillion in federal spending for this fiscal year. Sure, that’s a whale of a lot of money to us folks out here in the real world, and no doubt, there will be some pain caused, possibly by furloughs of some government employees or loss of jobs and reduced federal funds for various state and local programs. Unfortunately, the biggest impact — 50 percent of the cuts — falls on national defense. Cuts in some non-defense agencies may range from 5 to 13 percent.

But let’s keep this in perspective. Out here in the real world, far, far from the Washington Beltway world, tens of millions of Americans have had to cut their budgets by a lot more than the 2.5 percent or worst cuts estimated for federal agencies.

To start with, every wage earner has already felt the bite of higher taxes with the two percent increase in payroll taxes as part of the deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” in January. On top of that, the price of everything keeps going up, notably groceries and gasoline.

There are millions of Americans who, unlike federal employees that may get furloughed, don’t have a job to be furloughed from. Millions more work part-time because they cannot get full-time work. How much have their budgets been cut? The number of people having to work part-time, but wanting full-time jobs, stands at eight million now — nearly twice the 4.8 million of five years ago. Don’t talk to them about a 2.5 percent reduction in the federal budget.

How about the millions that have lost their homes or seen their value sink below their mortgage? How about higher health care costs and higher premiums? Talk about taking cuts.

What about cutting just some of the wasteful spending by federal agencies? Yesterday the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the U.S. House released a report saying “unimplemented reforms” recommended by non-partisan inspectors general “could save taxpayers $67 billion per year.” That’s about 78 percent of the total sequester cuts. How about cutting “Lifeline?” This program gives telephones and service supposedly to low-income people — at a cost of $2.2 billion per year — even though 41 percent of the recipients did not verify eligibility. Another candidate for cutting: “Community Development Block Grants” totaling $3 billion which Heritage experts say is funneled to mostly well-off communities. And the outdated and ineffective Job Corps, costing $1.7 billion a year, is an unnecessary expense.

But instead of cutting real wasteful spending, what does the president do? He stops public tours of the White House. It’s just another way to over-dramatize the effects of the 2.5 percent cut in federal spending. It’s a shame.
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