For the past few months, the United States federal government has been dealing with a very annoying issue: The Sequester. It may seem a bit complicated to the casual political observer, so I’ll try to sum it up as simply as I am able:
In 2011 the United States needed to raise the debt ceiling (borrow more money) to pay for its bills. The Budget Control Act of 2011 was signed. It stated that the debt ceiling could only be raised if congress made enough cuts in the budget to offset the borrowing. If congress failed to act, the debt ceiling would still be raised. However, there would be automatic spending cuts in all areas of government spending, to offset the borrowing. This is called sequestration.
There were two purposes for this: 1- To force to congress to act, and 2- To do it in a objective manner in which no one really gets exactly what they want.
The first sequestration was supposed to take effect at the beginning of January. Congress, in effect, punted- passing a bill that would delay the sequestration for another couple of months. If congress can’t get a spending deal made soon, the sequestration (cuts) will take effect March, 1st.
“Why can’t congress just get their act together?” you may be asking yourself.
So here is a letter I plan on writing to the federal government:
Please cut spending….
As long as it’s not education. I’m a teacher. Plus I’ll be getting a master’s soon and I don’t want the interest on my my student loans to go up.
Also, please don’t make cuts to the Department of Defense or Homeland Security or Border Patrol or any defense program. We can’t risk weakening the country’s defense. I also have family members with careers in the military. I don’t want them to struggle either.
Oh, and don’t make cuts in Medicare either. My 90 year old grandmother depends on it, and some of my family members soon will. I really don’t want life to be hard on them either.
And please don’t cut Medicaid. I have had several friends around my young age who have used or are using Medicaid to help provide insurance for themselves or their children. You can’t take that away from them.
Please don’t make cuts to the Labor Department either. I’d had to rely on unemployment once, and so have many good-willed people who come across tough times. We can’t punish them and their families for being fired or laid off.
Don’t make cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs either. This country has many citizens who are retired soldiers and depend upon the V.A. for medical treatment.
Don’t cut Agriculture because No Farms=No Food.
Don’t cut Energy Programs because I’m tired of paying high gas prices.
Don’t cut Disaster Aid because I can’t imagine what I’d do if a natural disaster happened to me.
Don’t cut Infrastructure either because I love the Interstate System. I can get anywhere in the U.S. very quickly because of it.
And finally, don’t cut Social Security because I want to retire some day and I want Social Security to be there to help insure that I have a comfortable life after retirement.
Feel free to cut anything else besides that.
P.S. Don’t raise my taxes either. Make somebody else pay for comforts in life, or just cut programs for people less-fortunate than me.
That leaves you with about 3% of government spending to play with. Have fun!”
Fact: We all want deficit reduction… AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T AFFECT US OR THOSE WE CARE ABOUT.
We will continue to “punt the ball” as long as we are not willing to accept actions made by congress that will make our lives a little less comfortable. That means losing funding for a program that provides insurance for your children, or helps you retire, or protects our country better, or maybe even employs you. It means paying a little more in taxes, or not getting that awesome tax credit you get. It means sacrifice and compromise.
But if we can’t figure out we’ve always got Sequester the Molester forever hanging over us, whispering into our ears, “It will be easier if you just don’t fight it.”