Have you built your backyard, underground shelter yet to help you ride out the nuclear winter that starts this Friday when the “sequester” kicks in?
For a long time now, Americans should have known that the only way to stop the nation’s long-term trajectory toward insolvency — the same trajectory that led Standard & Poor’s to downgrade America’s credit rating in 2011 — is to enact cuts and/or revenue increases that cause real pain.
Other than the Simpson-Bowles commission — an Obama-appointed group that came up with a remarkably sound plan that spread the pain equitably and was quickly dismissed by everyone in Washington — has there been such a proposal? Of course not.
Sequestration — the random cutting of about $1.5 trillion over 10 years — at least gets the job done.
After some pain up front, the long term would be healthier.
An opinion piece by Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation, lays out the case not only for celebrating the sequester, but for beginning to plan for the second round of it.
He writes that Congress and the president “have had the time and power to do a rational budget process, and they have repeatedly failed. In this country, we expect schoolchildren to know that deadlines are deadlines, and if they don’t get their homework done, to suffer the consequences. We expect you to pay your taxes on time, or you’re toast. But Congress and the president should be let off the hook for repeatedly missing legal deadlines and letting the country’s fiscal health go down the tubes? Maybe a ruling class operates that way, but not a constitutional republic.
It’s time for blunt tools, and the Great Sequester of 2013 should be considered a model, not an apocalypse.”
After all, the cuts simply mean government won’t be able to grow as quickly as it otherwise would. They are cuts from the expected increase. The 2013 federal budget still would be higher than the 2012 budget.
Giovanetti says it’s true that some jobs would be lost. “Finding new, more productive forms of employment for these workers will require growing the private sector economy rather than growing the government sector.”
If you transfer jobs from the government sector to the private sector, the economy will improve over time. (Read Giovanetti’s piece by clicking here.)
To be sure, sequestration is not the best way to right the nation’s fiscal ship. But politicians of both parties have proven themselves absolutely incapable of crafting a rational approach to fixing the problem.
You can be sure that sequestration, if allowed to commence on March 1, will last only as long as it takes either party to blink. Given the people involved, that may be a long time.
By then, however, the pain of irrational cuts may be absorbed and the nation could be on the road to a better fiscal future.