The latest projectile-sweat-producing event in Our Nation's Capital is the looming automatic cuts in the federal budget known as "sequestration."
Sequestration is not a word we get to use every day in a sentence, most of us, but it is fun to say because we get to use the tip and the back of our tongues to say it.
According to Webster's, sequestration is a 14th century word from the Latin sequesrare - to hand over to a trustee or some other third party. Today it is an intransitive verb meaning to segregate (as a jury), to seclude, or to seize (via a writ of sequestration).
The current writ of sequestration started in November 2011 when the Congress AND the President put automatic budget cuts on the table as an incentive to come up with a grand strategy to do something about the national debt which, as of last night stood at $16.5 trillion and growing. They were to come up with cuts of at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.
They didn't and so, 13 months on, the automatic cuts were to take place.
This was not done by some backroom handshake. It was the result of an actual law - the Budget Control Act of 2011, now known as Public Law 112-25. I point that out because to listen to President Obama you might be led to believe that when this stupid deal was struck he was playing golf with Tiger Woods. On Mars.
In fact, a bill becomes law (in most cases, including this one) when it is passed by the House and Senate then signed by the President of the United States. In this case, Barack Obama.
The budget year for the U.S. Government starts on October 1 and runs to the next September 30. This is called the fiscal year (as opposed to the calendar year which, in the West, begins on January 1 and ends on December 31). When the Budget Control Act (let's agree to call it the BCA) was adopted, it called for the automatic cuts to begin on January 1, 2013 - three months into the fiscal year.
To the surprise of no one, the House and the Senate and the President didn't want to live with the fruits of their fruitlessness; and so on January 2, 2013 they passed a quick law delaying the effects of sequestration until March 1, 2013 - five months into the fiscal year.
That bill was grandly named the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. That's the one that raised income taxes on rich people and payroll taxes on the rest of us thus providing tax relief to no one.
We have discussed this before but someone once said the title of a bill is like the title of a Marx Brothers' movie: It has nothing whatever to do with the actual contents. (See, also, Duck Soup; Animal Crackers; and Cocoanuts to name but a few).