Guy covered this in detail a few days ago, but there’s at least two points worth re-emphasizing: (1) The budget process commonly known as “sequestration” originated in the corridors of the White House, and was signed into law by President Obama himself. Hence, the president’s insistence that Republicans are somehow solely responsible if the negotiations fail -- and the cuts kick in -- is erroneous. (2) The negative consequences of sequestration -- discussed endlessly by this president and his lieutenants -- are exaggerated to a mystifying degree. Yuval Levin blew the lid off Team Obama’s opportunism and endless fear-mongering yesterday in a piece at National Review Online:
Let’s get a grip. In its first year, fiscal year 2013, which ends September 30, the sequester would involve a total of $85 billion in spending cuts. That’s a reduction of 3% from what federal spending otherwise would have been this year.But even that significantly overstates the effects the sequester would actually have this year. The federal government is so lumbering and huge that it can’t even reduce its own spending that quickly. That’s why “first year” cuts are always so difficult in even the most fiscally conservative budget proposals. The Congressional Budget Office (on page 11 of its latest budget outlook, published earlier this month) estimates that while FY 2013 spending will ultimately be reduced by $85 billion, “discretionary outlays will drop by $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures; additional reductions in outlays attributable to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years.” So in this fiscal year, we would actually be looking at a $44 billion spending cut, or less than a 1.5% reduction from what federal spending otherwise would have been. It would mean that federal spending in 2013 will be about $3.553 trillion. In 2012, federal spending was $3.538 trillion. Yes, that means that even with the sequester we will be spending slightly more in 2013 than we did in 2012. In fact, we will be spending more than we did in any year in American history except for 2011 (when we spent $3.598 trillion). Here’s a quick sense of what we’re looking at (the historical figures are from this CBO spreadsheet and the 2013 ones are from this one, both are updated as of earlier this month):
In other words, the sun will still rise on March 1, 2013 if the “sequestration” cuts go into effect. Murderous criminals will not go free and millions of Americans won’t die of food poising. Put simply, these cuts are anything but “draconian” (from the article):
This is not to say that “sequestration” is sound public policy, although I think (like most liberal ideas) it was well-intentioned. (Clearly, it is far from sound). But it is worth pointing out that the president is once again trying to demonize his political opponents and absolve himself of any wrongdoing by not letting this latest crisis “go to waste.”
For what it’s worth, “sequestration” will do absolutely nothing to solve the nation’s long-term budget deficit problem. And yet the president’s histrionics suggest Republican obstructionists are actively seeking to destroy America.
We shouldn’t let him get away with it.