The silly sequester dance in Washington
The Kansas City Star
We’re T-minus one day away from the start of automatic federal budget cuts. Yet Americans don’t have much hope that the bumbling elected officials in Washington, D.C., will solve the most recent fiscal mess — called a sequester — by the Friday deadline.
Instead, President Barack Obama and congressional leaders may continue to play their games of political chicken for a few more days, even a week or more. Then, if common sense prevails, the budget cuts will be rescinded or at least put off for another few months, much like Congress did when handling the fiscal cliff debacle at the end of 2012.
The sequester wouldn’t even be necessary if Obama and Congress could act like grown-ups and make some admittedly difficult decisions.
As we have said for months, that should include elimination of some tax-break loopholes and reforms of major entitlement programs to slow their costly growth over time.
Unfortunately, Republicans say they won’t even consider anything that would lead to higher taxes, even for well-off Americans. And Obama isn’t doing much better in coming up with a legitimate plan that would further rein in the growth of government spending.
While this “pox on both their houses” talk goes on, Americans could be hurt if the sequester actually lasts for any substantial period.
Cutbacks could affect meat inspectors, flight controllers, civilian military personnel and others in government service, while slashing public funds for teachers and others. Furloughs, even layoffs, could result. The nation’s economic recovery would again be threatened.
The president and all members of Congress often claim they are serious about efficiently using federal tax dollars. The sequester, with its across-the-board approach, wouldn’t do that. It should be scrapped, and Washington should pass a well-reasoned plan to raise some taxes and cut some spending.