Sequestration begins on March 1. This means spending cuts. Well, not exactly cuts. There will be reductions in spending increases.
Both sides are aghast. The thought of a pork reduction program of $85 billion in a budget of $3.8 trillion is horrifying in Washington.
Reuters calls such cuts “harsh.”
The cuts will go into effect beginning on March 1.
“At this point, we continue to reach out to Republicans and say this is not going to be good for the economy, it’s not going to be good for ordinary people,” the president told radio talk show host Al Sharpton.
That settles it. If we can’t trust something we hear on Al Sharpton’s radio show, what can we trust?
In what looks like a coordinated campaign to win public support for a broader deficit reduction package that includes more tax revenue, the White House and government agencies have warned frequently in recent days of severe damage from the cuts.
A coordinated campaign by the White House? Surely, you jest!
They could curb economic growth, lead to some 750,000 lost jobs and decimate public services like law enforcement and air traffic control, the administration says.
Really? You mean Obama will let criminals with unregistered handguns run wild? You mean he will close the airports?
What’s that? He doesn’t mean this, you say. Well, then, what does he mean?
What does it mean for national defense?
White House spokesman Carney distanced himself from a phrase used by outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, whose department would be hit with the heaviest cuts at $46 billion. Panetta said this month the United States risked becoming a “second-rate power” if sequestration went ahead.
“I don’t think the issue here is the language you use to describe it, because every characterization you make of it, if you’re being honest about it, is negative,” Carney said when asked who would be a first-rate power if the United States were second-rate. “The impact will be negative. It will harm our national security,” Carney said.
How much will the cuts harm national defense. He did not say.
Then what about safe meat?
It could be months before any meat plants are shut down because of a furlough of meat inspectors, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, because USDA employees get from 30 to as many as 120 days notice of impending layoffs, he said.
“I’m not sure what it is in the food safety area,” said Vilsack whose agency has raised the prospect of the furlough repeatedly in the past two weeks.
So, he doesn’t know.
What about national health?
An official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget had yet to tell the department how much to cut if there is no deal in Congress to stop the sequester.
“It’s fair to say that nothing really changes on March 1,” the official said. “We’re all going on estimates until OMB informs us of what the actual percentage cut will be.”
What about safe investing?
The country’s top Wall Street regulators are not expecting layoffs or furloughs. Both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have so far mostly downplayed the impact of the cuts.
That means traders, financial firms and publicly traded companies are unlikely to need to prepare, for now, for any major immediate disruption of financial markets.
It makes you wonder. Why is the public so frantic about all this?
In addition, the U.S. public seems only dimly aware of the sequester, according to a poll released Thursday.
In findings which may help explain the lack of urgency in Congress so far, about 43 percent of those polled had only heard a little about the planned cuts.
But the cuts are harsh. They will cripple the economy. We heard it from the President of the United States on Al Sharpton’s radio show.