Rich Galen

The other day, the President railed against Congressional (read: Republican) inaction on averting the sequester by giving a speech while surrounded by uniformed policemen. The picture was designed to make the point that if the automatic cuts go into effect, people across the country will lose police protection.

Back when mules were the principal form of transportation, I was a member of the City Council of Marietta, Ohio 45750. One of my committee assignments was as chairman of the Police and Fire Committee.

It came to pass that the city firemen wanted a raise that would put them at more-or-less parity with the city policemen. I'm not certain how it works now, but at the time the firefighters worked 24 hours on and 48 hours off, meaning many of them had part time jobs that the cops - who worked regular 8-hour shifts - did not have the opportunity to hold.

I have mentioned to you on other occasions that Al Gore and I have something in common. If we've told a story often enough, for long enough, we believe it actually happened - whether or not we made it up in the first place.

This might be one of those, but the point is, nonetheless, valid. The firemen came to the committee with a budget that showed if we did not increase the amount of money we allocated to fire and rescue activities they would have to cease providing ambulance services to the good people of Marietta.

I'm not that good at arithmetic, but I'm pretty good at reading a budget. As I remember it, there was a line-item to re-surface the pool tables in the fire stations, the firefighters having had to play pool on worn-out felt for who knows how many years.

I suggested that, rather than eliminating ambulance services as the first place to save money, perhaps we could eliminate the re-felting of the pool tables and see where that left us.

I'm not certain how it all came out, but I do know the citizenry did not have to walk to the hospital when sick or injured.

That's approximately the same negotiating tactic the President used the other day. And it's not far from what the Pentagon and other Departments and Agencies are claiming they will have to do.

After Wednesday's column, (See - Seekwes - Sequestration) I received a number of heartfelt and touching emails detailing how the sequester would do real harm to real people.

Civilian employees of the Department of Defense would be furloughed one day a week - meaning their income would be cut by 20 percent for the rest of the year.

I think we can all agree that cutting our pay by a fifth would result in real hardship in most of our households.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at