“From what I hear, I have to conclude that it is more likely than unlikely that we’ll actually have to do this,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, according to Stars and Stripes. “We are serious about being ready.” http://www.stripes.com/news/us/automatic-defense-cuts-called-more-likely-than-unlikely-1.205834.
Carter was speaking about the 10 percent across-the-board budget cuts that are scheduled to take place March 1. The action was already delayed from January 2, when the President signed the Taxpayer Relief Act, which put off the cuts for two months.
[Aside: It is difficult to see why the Taxpayer Relief Act is called the "Taxpayer Relief Act," since it provides no taxpayer relief in the form of lower taxes or budget cuts. But that, I suppose, is the point of a Congress which has a 10 percent approval rating. Pretend that you are doing something when you are doing nothing.]
[Oh, haha! Ten percent automatic budget cuts go as perfectly with a 10 percent approval-rating Congress as a matching belt and shoes. Only in this case I think the belt is tightening while the shoes are doing a tap dance.]
Since House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) [has anyone else noticed that Paul Ryan looks just like Eddie Munster?] also believes that sequestration will go into effect (Meet the Press, January 27), and it is the House which is Constitutionally responsible for introducing tax and budget legislation, I’d believe the messenger. (Or is that “don’t shoot the messenger?” There are so many Congressional do-nothings that I get confused.)
The Department of Defense has already warned–countless times–that sequestration would seriously harm the United State’s fighting force. But take heart, troops–like Congress, you may still get paid. Two days after Ryan’s remarks, “Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced bipartisan legislation…to ensure that our men and women in uniform and civilians supporting them do not go without pay in the event Congress is unable or unwilling to get its fiscal house in order.” Press release.
Believe you me, I believe getting paid is important too. But even if the senators’ bill to protect military pay is passed, it doesn’t provide for funding operations.
Nor does sequestration pay for Social Security, Medicare–and non-socialist programs and agencies, like the Department of State and embassy security.
Is Congress dysfunctional? Notice that even sentors Moran’s and Udall’s press release remarks, “in the event Congress is unable or unwilling to get its fiscal house in order.” It’s been unwilling and unable for more than 18 months. Aug. 2, 2011: Budget Control Act of 2011 creates the “super committee,” required to recommend more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. Nov. 21, 2011: Super committee gives up, triggering sequestration to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013. http://fcw.com/articles/2013/02/01/sequestration-approaches.aspx?s=fcwdaily_040213.
But it’s worse than that.
Congress has finally died. Given up the ghost, passed away, whatever you want to call it: Congress has been pronounced dead, D-E-A-D, dead.
D.C. Coroner Edward Fox Sees To the Bagging of the Obviously Brain Dead Legislative Body. http://www.citizenschwartz.com/congress-dead/.
And not a moment too soon.