It is rather amazing. Senators and representatives flocking out of Washington, D.C., during their long holiday, to sound the warning bell over the term “sequestration.” While the word has many meanings, to Congress it means that if the appropriations exceed the budget resolution, both passed by Congress, then the amount over budget is held back. But it gets more complicated. Rep. Austin Scott described the upcoming implementation of sequestration as a “train wreck.” It is a train wreck of their own design.
Unable to reach a compromise on $1.2 trillion in cuts or a combination of cuts and tax increases, Congress put a gun to its head last August with the trigger set to go off Jan. 1, 2013. If a deal is not reached, the gun goes off and Congress will have shot itself and the American public in the head. More than $500 billion is set to come out of the defense budget over 10 years and an equal amount from other government programs.
Unfortunately, there is ideology at work on both sides. The left is pushing a combination of tax increases on the wealthy and program cuts. The right is dead set against any tax increases. The various “super committees” have not been able to jump over that hurdle although there seems to be agreement by economists and others that some combination of tax increases, tax reform and spending cuts are the right way to go.
The entire sequestration process was described by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a Twitter feed Wednesday, published by The Hill, “Sequestration in Latin means ‘dumb politicians destroying defense.’ ”
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Defense department official describe the looming cuts as “devastating.” Defense contractors are up in arms, holding back hiring because of the uncertainty. Let’s face it. Congress is in recess, and nothing will happen before they tally up their forces in the House and Senate and know who will be sitting in the White House come January. That is unfortunate. Congress will have kicked the can down the road only to kick it against a wall it cannot surmount. While they can vote to give the process an extension, that will only expose the deadly game they have been playing with the American public for their own electoral designs.
-- The Editorial Board