Monday, February 25, 2013

Separating Truth From Fiction About Sequestration

As a public service, I decided to clear up some misunderstandings about the fast-approaching sequestration:

First off, the amount to be cut is NOT 3 percent of the total budget. As I mentioned in a previous piece, approximately two thirds of all federal spending goes to entitlements and interest on the debt. The actual cuts amount to 8 percent of all spending. Hardly a drop in the bucket. The cuts, if allowed to take place, would have a profound impact on the economy.

Second, contrary to popular opinion, there is NO discretion as to how the cuts are to be doled out. That was the whole point of sequestration in the first place: to make the cuts so painful that both parties would be forced to make concessions to avoid them.

Third, again contrary to a recent op-ed piece by Bob Woodward in which he accused the Obama Administration of "moving the goal posts" by insisting on new tax revenue as part of a deal to avoid sequestration, it was always the Administration's stated position that tax revenue should be part of a comprehensive deal. Woodward should know this; his own book actually states as much. In fact, the Super Committee that was convened immediately after the Budget Control Act passed, was tasked to come up with $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction. Tax revenue was most definitely on the table.

Fourth, the Administration does, indeed, have a plan for tackling sequestration. It is available on whitehouse.gov. Some may not like it, but it is wrong to suggest, as David Brooks did, that the Administration has not lead on this issue. Brooks, for his part, did admit he erred in a follow-up piece. In a nutshell, the plan involves cuts totaling $1.1 trillion and revenue totaling $580 billion from closing loopholes and eliminating deductions.

And finally, even if by some stroke of luck the sequester is avoided, the continuing resolution, which has been responsible for funding the government, expires March 27. A government shutdown is very much a possibility.

Yep, the next five weeks promise to be nothing, if exciting. Strap yourselves in.


Links: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/deficit_reduction_table_bucketed_r8.pdf
http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/02/23/how_bob_woodward_s_book_debunks_his_big_washington_post_op_ed.html

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