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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

SEQUESTERIN'

"...and the only thing that’s standing in the way of getting this done right now is the unwillingness on the part of some members of Congress and folks in the Republican Party to give up on some tax breaks for folks like me who don’t need them."

Sequestration is the odd term the US Congress came up with to describe a mandatory series of cuts that will take place if the deficit is not reduced by 1.2 billion by January 2013. This was part of the deal made in 2011 to allow congress to raise the debt ceiling. Basically Republicans said "fine, you can do so, if we have mandatory cuts by next year's end."

Well we're fast approaching next year's end and there's not even a budget this year. There's no movement toward any cuts whatsoever. President Obama is running around telling everyone its all the Republicans' fault because they won't agree to raise taxes on rich people, that he'll be compelled to cut the military budget significantly unless there's a tax increase.

In one sense, this is a good thing. It means President Obama is actually doing his job, trying to lead congress into taking action. And I suppose in another sense its good because it is forcing people to pay attention to the topic. The press would really prefer to ignore the need for deficit reduction.

However, it is transparently political for President Obama to pretend the only choices are military cuts or tax increases. That's not just a false dichotomy, its a deliberately manipulating lie. This is the kind of thing that I despise about politics, and its hardly something President Obama does exclusively. Right now the Republican party ticket is running around bragging about how they're funding Medicare the most by distorting the way the ACA shifts funds around.

Oregon's constitution requires the legislature to get a majority vote of the State's citizens on at tax increase. That means they have to sell every tax increase to the public, and they tend to do so with this kind of politicking. Its always "pass the tax increase or we'll be forced to fire every policeman, open the jails, and shut down fire departments." They never talk about anything being shut down that is extraneous or questionable, its always sold as something critical, holding voters hostage.

Now, in Oregon it almost never works - I can remember once in the last 40 years of dozens of attempts the voters actually supporting a tax increase.

The best way to handle this would be for congressmen and President Obama to stand up in a press conference and say "we're taking no more pay for our work until this deficit is dropped. We're cutting our staff and budgets by 25% and doing an audit to find waste, duplication, and poor use of funds." Saying that and enacting it the very same day would be incredibly valuable.

That statement would do wonders for the public's perception of both the president and congress. It would clearly demonstrate a commitment to cut spending and that these people at least are willing to give the image of feeling the same pain that others will when they're cut.

I have no problems with military cuts. I am not the kind of conservative that thinks somehow magically the defense budget is the one area of government that is magically free of waste, fraud, and mismanagement. There's stupid and wasteful spending in the military. There is idiotic misuse of funds, there's corrupt backroom deals, there are kickbacks, pointless contracts and duplication.

I suspect that at the actual soldier level of defense there's not a lot - there's probably some, but its likely minimal because of the discipline and structure. But when it comes to building some new project, its too easy to slip in a contract to a donor, to build an extra engine just to have the jobs go to your district, to grease a palm and throw money at a friend. And the bases across the world, I'm sorry but do we really need four bases in Italy alone, let alone one? Do we really need all those bases in Europe? Do we really need NATO any longer?

Slashing back a lot of those bases would save billions every year, and would have the added benefit of not being an economic benefit to nations what despise us openly while we essentially prop up their idiotic and corrupt economic system by negating the need for a military budget. Cut that back and we're no worse off as a nation but save huge stacks of cash. Yes, we'd need more bases in America to deal with the men and logistics, but that's good for America and would cost less overall from long distance and cultural/linguistic costs.

Its just frustrating to see the military held hostage for tax increases when cuts are what is obviously, blatantly needed. If you're spending too much the answer is always to spend less, not to take more money from someone else. Its simply infantile to call for higher taxes, its the kind of answer a child would give, so they didn't have to cut back on their toy and candy budget. Fewer Skittles or a bigger allowance - the child will always go for the candy, and that's exactly what congress and the executive have been doing for decades.

Grow up. Stand up and take the hit first, then look for places to tighten the belt. Don't demand everyone else do with less, you do it yourself. Be a man about it. The thing that's standing in the way of deficit reduction is your immature and foolish approach to budgeting, Mr President. Don't say another word on the topic until you lead your party into actually passing a budget for the first time in over 1000 days. Sequester your greed, sir. We've given you in government too much already.

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