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Is it too late to avert the sequester's deep spending cuts?
The Week ^ | 13 Feb 13 | Harold Maass

Posted on 02/16/2013 5:38:32 AM PST by SkyPilot

epublican leaders in Congress predicted Wednesday that painful automatic spending cuts — the sequester, in Washington lingo — will hit at the end of the month, as scheduled. "I think the sequester’s gonna happen," Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of Senate Republican leadership, said at a Politico post-State-of-the-Union event. Indeed, Democrats and Republicans have made little or no progress on a compromise deficit reduction deal that would head off the across-the-board budget cuts, which would hit the Pentagon and social programs especially hard.

President Obama warned in his address that allowing the sequester to hit would be disastrous, and called for a "balanced" deal reducing the deficit with both new revenue and spending cuts. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the sequester is bad policy but House Republicans had already submitted their proposal to avert it, so it's up to the Democrat-controlled Senate to act now to avoid cuts designed to save $85 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over a decade. Should Americans brace for the worst, or is there still a chance for a compromise to head off the potentially damaging sequester?

Unless Obama changes his tune, Anneke E. Green argues at U.S. News & World Report, the sequester is going to happen, as long as Republicans don't lose their nerve. The president is warning "with a straight face" about the danger ahead, Green says, but "the impending spending cuts package was his idea from the start." During the 2011 debt talks, the White House praised the arrangement as a win-win, and Obama clearly "counted on Republicans in Congress to choose defense spending over fiscal restraint." Now he's "singing the sequestration blues," and it's his own fault.

(Excerpt) Read more at theweek.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 113th; defense; entitlementreform; obama; sequestration
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Politicians do make it sound like stalemate is inevitable, acknowledges Jaimani Desai at Seeking Alpha. "Both Democrats and Republicans seem locked into their stances and unwilling to compromise." But "these are just negotiating tactics." The reality is that both sides have very strong reasons to strike a deal. Nobody wants to hamper the military or force the government to lay off hundreds of thousands of employees, and that includes most of the Republicans screaming loudest about the need to impose fiscal discipline in Washington.

The conventional wisdom states that the Republicans are in an advantageous position since an inability to reach agreement would automatically force spending cuts. My theory is that the Republicans are much more fond of "spending cuts" as a political issue to win votes as opposed to "spending cuts" as policy. I think recent history confirms this view. No doubt, in terms of rhetoric the Republicans excel in discussing the need for spending cuts, however in reality they have done little more than kick the can down the road and are equal perpetrators in the nation's fiscal issues.

1 posted on 02/16/2013 5:38:37 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: SkyPilot

Well, I say leave the military alone, and fire millions of other “government employees”.

We can get over that—there are millions that are either unnecessary or redundant. Line ‘em all up, and count every 5th one and fire him.


2 posted on 02/16/2013 5:47:18 AM PST by basil (basil)
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To: SkyPilot

Is this to be a cut in increases or an actual cut?


3 posted on 02/16/2013 5:49:04 AM PST by Paladin2
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To: SkyPilot

Deep spending cuts?

Cutting it to zero would be “deep”. Merely slowing its growth is not even a cut.


4 posted on 02/16/2013 5:49:10 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: SkyPilot

The US should pull it’s forces out of Europe, Japan, Asia and stop giving free stuff to places like Egypt. They took advantage of the US Defense umbrella to build their socialism. Let them defend themselves and bear the burden of cost. The US shouldn’t be funding or fighting endless wars anyway. Big deal, so we reduce the rate of increase in spending, not a true cut. They act as if this is the end of the world or something.


5 posted on 02/16/2013 5:50:09 AM PST by broken_arrow1 (I regret that I have but one life to give for my country - Nathan Hale "Patriot")
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This is interesting:

Defense contractors are joining forces with public health experts — both groups that rely heavily on federal funds — in a "combined call to stop the upcoming sequester cuts," says Kate Ackley at Roll Call. "The rare display of unity among groups that are often pitted against one another underscored" how much opposition there is to the across-the-board budget cuts, and how much support there is for a compromise. These strange bedfellows are urging Congress and the Obama administration "to arrive at a bipartisan grand bargain that should include new tax revenues, an overhaul of entitlement programs, and cuts to the nondiscretionary side of the ledger." If they can work together, maybe Republicans and Democrats can, too.

The Sequester is a meat ax, across the board chainsaw that does not even allow departments to initiate the cuts in the best way. It is also trying to balance 3/3rds of the budget on the backs of 1/3rd of the budget while it exempts mandatory spending, which is exploding.

Many of the indiscriminate discretionary cuts will end up costing the government more money as soon as next year if they are implemented this way. People may cry and moan about that, but that is the way it is.

A target approach is much more fiscally sound.

Defense is already reeling from the 2011 $487 Billion in cuts over ten years (we are already two years into that cycle). With the Continuing Resolution freezing their budget and now 50% of the Sequestration cuts being levied on one department (the DoD), it is a triple disaster.

For the first time, I am beginning to see media and liberals on TV talk about entitlement reform.

Even Democrats and liberal realize that we could totally zero out Defense spending, and the out of control spending on entitlements looks like this:

For the sake of our nation, we have to tackle this problem.

My prayer is that God will act His will, even upon the reprobate and pagan members of our government (as he did with Nebakanezer). Perhaps there is still hope our nation will turn around. Otherwise, our nation will not endure. Our real fiscal cliff is not behind us, we are speeding towards and entitlement disaster at 90 mph.

6 posted on 02/16/2013 5:50:43 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: basil

ha, dream on. Enjoy the theater. The Republicans are only a pretend 2nd party, they will work with the Dems to ensure govt. does nothing but grow ever larger in the end.


7 posted on 02/16/2013 5:54:01 AM PST by wrencher
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To: basil

The military is just as bloated and can stand some cuts.

As somebody pointed out, there are many serviceable weapons and equipment that are eliminated, just so shiny new weapons and equipment can be brought forth and somebody gets their commission.


8 posted on 02/16/2013 5:54:34 AM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults.)
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To: Paladin2; P.O.E.

...that seems to be the major issue. Are there actual cuts in the sequester, or is it just baseline bugeting Bee Ess.


9 posted on 02/16/2013 5:55:28 AM PST by wita
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To: wita

Sad state of affairs when they’ve got the issues so muddied we can’t even see what the heck they’re talking about. The gov’t is so huge and convulted I doubt they even know for sure.


10 posted on 02/16/2013 5:58:19 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: wrencher

Let the second American Revolution begin!


11 posted on 02/16/2013 5:58:40 AM PST by basil (basil)
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To: Paladin2

My understanding is we are cutting increases which is fine by me. Greenspan was on CNBC and he seemed to agree with sequestration....can’t be sure so don’t quote me:o)


12 posted on 02/16/2013 6:00:41 AM PST by mtnwmn (Liberalism leads to Socialism)
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To: SkyPilot

“The Sequester is a meat ax, across the board chainsaw “

A more appropriate analogy would be “paring knife”. The cuts proposed simply aren’t that big.

The hyperbole associated with the minor cuts are a million billion gazillion gigantoid supernovoid huge-ish percent larger than the actual cuts, which represent much less than 10% next year.


13 posted on 02/16/2013 6:01:48 AM PST by RFEngineer
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To: SkyPilot

“...does not even allow departments to initiate the cuts in the best way”

Oh, and this means you realize you are losing the argument on the “cuts” because you are now shifting to criticizing “the process” as somehow being unfair.


14 posted on 02/16/2013 6:04:29 AM PST by RFEngineer
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To: SkyPilot

Out of a greedy government budget of 1.6 trillion, they will cut 85 billion. This is practically nothing and shouldn’t even be noticed among all the waste and corruption when Obama’s cronies are feeding at the trough.

The only reason it is noticed is that cuts will be made in egregious ways...cutting budgets so voters are actually affected, hoping to inflame them against House Republican candidates in ‘14. As always, it’s a political move to discredit opposition to the Marxists’ agenda.


15 posted on 02/16/2013 6:04:52 AM PST by txrefugee
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To: broken_arrow1

I think a few hundred thousand bureaucrats and a few Departments (EPA, Education, ATF, etc.) can go before we jump on the loony world-destabilization bandwagon. I’d dump Medicare and SS entirely before sending such a GO signal to China.

I do agree with you on Egypt, but not for cost-savings. They are essentially the Muslim Brotherhood, and only our pResident wants to support that.


16 posted on 02/16/2013 6:13:57 AM PST by Empire_of_Liberty
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To: wrencher
These are actual cuts.

The Actual Cost Of Stopping The Sequester Will Shock You (Video)

17 posted on 02/16/2013 6:15:35 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: P.O.E.

This we do know, unless the items on auto-pilot get the axe, Medicaid, medicare, SS and food stamps etc. by at least forty percent we still have the problem of turning into Greece in less than ten years.

Auto-pilot: Spoken of often by elected representatives to indicate those items funded by government that are legally on the books and cannot by law be deviated from without changing the law, such as mentioned above, the big four, welfare payments in general and then the big three, SS, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Until the big four are dealt with we will continue to enjoy the deficit rising each and every year not by the false number of 1.3 Trillion with a T, but the far more realistic number of 6 to 7 Trillion with a T. Which is why the overall debt, is not 16 Trillion, but more on the order of 80 to 220 trillion when all of the promises of government are lumped into one pot, and depending on whom you talk to.

You can fool some of the people some of the time, but there comes a time when the majority start getting the message. That is when things are going to get very very interesting. Can we survive? Can we get it right, again? Will Congress act? It is like one of those 1940’s and fifties serials. What will happen next week to save the day?


18 posted on 02/16/2013 6:16:27 AM PST by wita
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To: SkyPilot

On March 1, the House should pass a bill restoring the most agregious cuts to the Military. The bill should be hand carried to the Senate. It is then on the Senate if bad things happen.

The House can pick what will be restored in other agencies as well.


19 posted on 02/16/2013 6:21:32 AM PST by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 .....The fairest Deduction to be reduced is the Standard Deduction)
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To: txrefugee
Out of a greedy government budget of 1.6 trillion, they will cut 85 billion. This is practically nothing and shouldn’t even be noticed

Then if what you say is true about it being "practically nothing" from a fiscal or deficit side, but Sequestration is going to harm Defense to the degree that the entire Joint Chiefs of Staff testified that it would harm us (before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees this week), why do it all?

Defense Cuts In Sequester Would 'Hollow' Military, Joint Chiefs Warn

In fact, these are very deep cuts, they only focus on discretionary spending (Defense taking the brunt), but they don't solve our problem, which is entitlement spending (which is exempt from sequestration).


20 posted on 02/16/2013 6:22:46 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: SkyPilot

All I can say is that the sequester does happen than nobody in the White House nor Congress should get a paycheck. They really haven’t earned one in years. If they can’t get an official budget together, which is one of their main job responsibilities, than they should feel the pain like everyone else.


21 posted on 02/16/2013 6:27:33 AM PST by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters of Freedom, Committee of Correspondence)
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To: bert
On March 1, the House should pass a bill restoring the most agregious cuts to the Military. The bill should be hand carried to the Senate.

The Senate will never agree to act on it.

The Senate just passed their own version of a Sequestration alternative (the House passed two of their own last year).

Many Democrats were not happy with the Senate compromise, because it contained other spending cuts and they only wanted tax raises ("revenue") to offset Sequester.

If the Republicans refuse to consider the Senate alternative and offer another proposal, the Sequestration will kick in.

Republicans themselves are deeply divided. It looks like the Rand Paulites are winning. A majority of Republicans are now blaming Defense for the very cuts the Republicans agreed to (see Duncan Hunter R-CA going off during the House Armed Services Committee testimony this week).

If the GOP abandons the military, it will take them years to gain that goodwill back among the military, veterans, and many Conservative voters who back the military.

22 posted on 02/16/2013 6:27:41 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: P.O.E.

$100 billion out of a $3.7 trillion budget and that is considered painful. What is going to happen when interest rates inevitably go up? The spending will continue to increase regardless.


23 posted on 02/16/2013 6:27:51 AM PST by kabar
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To: basil

“We can get over that—there are millions that are either unnecessary or redundant. Line ‘em all up, and count every 5th one and fire him.”

The majority of these government employees represent Democratic votes. That’s why it will be almost impossible to fire, layoff, furlough or otherwise remove them from what amounts to (for most) the public dole. (They pretend to work and we pay through the nose for their salary and benefits.) The negotiation process is like arbitration. Both sides must give up something they cherish to get a deal done. As somebody pointed out, the Republicans are only interested in the appearance of big cuts, not the policy of big cuts. So, there is nobody really representing the good of the United States or the American people. (Maybe a few, but those few have been neutered by their fellow Congressmen and the MSM.)

My workout buddy is a state employee; an absolutely wonderful guy. However, he tells me he’s read hundreds of novels while at work. This, because he was cited as using the internet too much for personal use. He tells me he could really sit at his desk and do nothing and nobody would notice. I get the impression from the other state workers in the gym that is what they do; nothing. One guy talked for days about how he changed the payee’s address on a contract.

My workout buddy complains that he hasn’t received a raise in three years. But his retirement package will be worth anywhere from a million to two million. As much as he’s a great guy, I have a hard time being sympathetic as all but two of the companies I’ve worked for were driven out of business during the buyout frenzy of the ‘90’s thus vaporizing the retirement funds. (Thank you Bernie Schwartz and President Clinton.)


24 posted on 02/16/2013 6:28:54 AM PST by Gen.Blather
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To: wita

Oh, and by the way, wasn’t Obamacare “paid for” by cutting waste, fraud and abuse already?

Was there some committee set up to oversee that? Are we reading news items about the billions being saved as a result? How many times are they going to claim the same savings for the same “waste, fraud and abuse”?

Or maybe they’re counting healthcare costs as “waste” if you’re too old, not the right skin color, immigrant status, religion, party affiliation, etc.


25 posted on 02/16/2013 6:30:37 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: kabar

It’s part of the “Get paid on Friday, party on Saturday, broke on Monday” mentality.


26 posted on 02/16/2013 6:33:33 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Gen.Blather

You are right—the benefits and retirement packages for government employees are ridiculous. I certainly think gummit employees should have an adequate retirement, but it seems to me that we have gone way overboard on that score!


27 posted on 02/16/2013 6:34:19 AM PST by basil (basil)
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To: SkyPilot

Everyone’s just defending their own turf. I don’t believe the Joint Chiefs any more than the others.

As has been pointed out, this isn’t even a reduction in spending, only in the increase of spending. I would like to see this happen, and across the board. If we can’t even do this then there is no hope for us.

Yes, Medicare and SS are the 800 lb gorilla in the room that nobody is talking about. Only if cuts start can we begin to point at the gorilla.


28 posted on 02/16/2013 6:35:46 AM PST by Empire_of_Liberty
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To: 3Fingas
All I can say is that the sequester does happen than nobody in the White House nor Congress should get a paycheck. They really haven’t earned one in years.

IF the Sequester kicks in, there will be a lot of real damage. Reserach, defense companies, manufacturing related to defense, medical research (the city of Boston predicted yesterday they would lose 60,000 research jobs alone), and many others.

Many of our nations veterans will also pay the price:

Many federal workers facing furloughs are veterans

Over 85% of the DoD workers affected work outside the beltway in maintenance, logistics, nursing, contracting, and other jobs. 27% of those facing a paycut of 1/5th of salary are veterans, many of them disabled.

A reporter for "The Hill" asked Nancy Pelosi if Congress should take a paycut.

This was her response:

Pelosi: Congressional pay cut undermines dignity of the job

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she opposes a cut in congressional pay because it would diminish the dignity of lawmakers' jobs. "I don't think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do," Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. "I think it's necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded." The comments were made in the context of the looming sequester, which would force across-the-board cuts affecting most federal offices, including Congress. With lawmakers nowhere near a deal to avert those cuts, federal agencies are bracing for ways to absorb them with minimum damage to programs and personnel. Pelosi, whose husband is a wealthy real-estate developer, was quick to note that a cut in her own pay would be far less significant than that for both staffers and less wealthy members of Congress. "It's a hard question to ask me because most of my colleagues are the breadwinners in their families," she said. "A pay cut to me doesn't mean as much."

29 posted on 02/16/2013 6:36:08 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: Jonty30
The military is just as bloated and can stand some cuts.

Bloated? The military has already been cut substantially by Obama and Panetta.

And what will be done with the savings from defense? The money will be shifted to keep the welfare state afloat. This is the classic "Guns versus Butter" battle that takes place in declining great nations and civilizations. The UK and the rest of Europe are good examples.

They are now spending about 1% of the GDP on defense. They continue to cut back on their defense expenditures. Fortunately, they have the US to provide the security umbrella. Unfortunately, we will not have that luxury as our defense capabilities are eviscerated. It is inevitable. The politicians will assure us that these cuts will not harm us and that DOD is bloated and inefficient. Butter has far more constituents than guns.

30 posted on 02/16/2013 6:37:11 AM PST by kabar
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To: wita
"hose items funded by government that are legally on the books and cannot by law be deviated from without changing the law,"

Law? What law? We're in a post legal environment.

31 posted on 02/16/2013 6:40:38 AM PST by Paladin2
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To: SkyPilot

Any cut is a good cut!


32 posted on 02/16/2013 6:42:09 AM PST by texican01
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To: basil

No reason we can’t do that with every 5th DoD civilian employee either.


33 posted on 02/16/2013 6:44:13 AM PST by bigdaddy45
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To: wita
This we do know, unless the items on auto-pilot get the axe, Medicaid, medicare, SS and food stamps etc. by at least forty percent we still have the problem of turning into Greece in less than ten years.

The sequestration law specifically exempts Medicaid, CHIP, Social Security benefits, TANF, etc.

In the law, Congress outlined healthcare related accounts that would be exempt from these cuts. The exemptions include:

All programs administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs

Grants to States for Medicaid

Children’s Health Insurance Fund

Non‐defense unobligated balances

Black Lung Disability Trust Fund Refinancing

Medical Facilities Guarantee and Loan Fund

Payment to Department of Defense Medicare‐Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund

Payments to Health Care Trust Funds

Payment to Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund

Radiation Exposure Compensation Trust Fund

Vaccine Injury Compensation

Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Trust Fund

Black Lung Disability Trust Fund

Department of Defense Medicare‐Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund

Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Fund

Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund

Retirement Pay and Medical Benefits for Commissioned Officers, Public Health Service

34 posted on 02/16/2013 6:51:19 AM PST by kabar
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To: bigdaddy45

Yep!

Wonder how long these folks would get unemployment benefits?


35 posted on 02/16/2013 6:56:55 AM PST by basil (basil)
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To: texican01

I disagree.

We are now finding out that sending jobs to China is a potentially fatal mistake.

Tax China. Do not freely trade with a country so huge, with such a large population, so far below our own salary level.

Now. We are heading critical.

America first.


36 posted on 02/16/2013 6:59:39 AM PST by Cringing Negativism Network
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To: SkyPilot
The Senate just passed their own version of a Sequestration alternative (the House passed two of their own last year).

News to me. Do you have a source for that. I know that the Dems are preparing their alternative in the Senate, but nothing has been passed unless I missed it.

37 posted on 02/16/2013 7:01:01 AM PST by kabar
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To: SkyPilot
Is it too late to avert the sequester's deep spending cuts?

I certainly hope so.

38 posted on 02/16/2013 7:02:14 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: Empire_of_Liberty

Since we are almost half way thru the fiscal year, the impact of the cuts will be compounded. Most of the agencies have already spent half of their budget. Furloughs will be used to save money. Then the drill starts again next fiscal year.


39 posted on 02/16/2013 7:04:33 AM PST by kabar
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To: kabar
News to me. Do you have a source for that.

Sure thing kabar. From "The Hill." Here you go.

Senate Dems unveil $110 billion sequester-replacement package


40 posted on 02/16/2013 7:11:54 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: basil
Well, I say leave the military alone, and fire millions of other “government employees”.

I'm going to disagree -- it wasn't until after WWI (maybe after WWII) that we had a regular Army -- the two-year funding limit on the army makes it rather clear that the intent of the founders was that the Congress was to commission/fund military missions [read campaign] on an individual basis. Deep cuts to the military/defense could have the very good effect of making the States nervous enough to fund their own armies (read militia).

We can get over that—there are millions that are either unnecessary or redundant. Line ‘em all up, and count every 5th one and fire him.

That's rather arbitrary: I'd go with dissolving whole departments: USDA, FDA, DOE, EPA, DEA, BATFE, FBI, [other] DOE, SSA... basically everything that's not directly authorized by the Constitution:


41 posted on 02/16/2013 7:16:07 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: texican01
Any cut is a good cut!

I know, that seems to be the prevailing mood, unless it is "their" program.

Myself, I care deeply about Defense. It is a Constitutional enterprise, it represents the best of our nation, and I have seen first hand the foolishness of gutting Defense only to see our nation have to rebuild later. We have been fortunate these last few decades - we have not been caught with our pants too far down around our ankles. That may change.

Any cut is a "good" cut, except if it is someones unemployment check, their Social Security, their Medicare, their pension, their contract, their COLA increase, etc.

I realize that. I am a realist.

42 posted on 02/16/2013 7:17:41 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: kabar
Butter has far more constituents than guns.

Or in this case:


43 posted on 02/16/2013 7:24:05 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: SkyPilot

In the main, the democrats have no problem cutting Defense spending. The DOD is not a dem constituency. So, they accomplish two things at once by allowing the sequester to occur. First, they hurt a Republican constituency. Second, they can foster division and rancor on the right by making the Republicans seem callous or incompetent or both.


44 posted on 02/16/2013 7:24:28 AM PST by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters of Freedom, Committee of Correspondence)
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To: OneWingedShark

Yes—but you’re thinking it through, and I’m being flippant. I think it’s called “sick of government syndrome.” I came down with it about 4 or 5 yrs ago, when I realized how screwed we actually are.


45 posted on 02/16/2013 7:27:34 AM PST by basil (basil)
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To: SkyPilot
Let the cuts happen. Also, we need to start properly referring to this as:

THE OBAMA SEQUESTER He, after all, is the one who wanted it and who signed it into law.

46 posted on 02/16/2013 7:31:47 AM PST by JustTheTruth
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To: SkyPilot

Thanks. So nothing has passed the Senate. This is just the Dem plan.


47 posted on 02/16/2013 7:36:09 AM PST by kabar
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To: SkyPilot
...cuts designed to save $85 billion this year and $1.2 trillion over a decade.

So 120 billion (average) cut out of annual budget of 3.5/4 trillion dollars is gonna ruin gubmint?

Blow that smoke up someone else's arse.

48 posted on 02/16/2013 7:44:15 AM PST by metesky (Brethren, leave us go amongst them! - Rev. Capt. Samuel Johnston Clayton - Ward Bond, The Searchers)
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To: metesky
The problem with the cuts is that they are exemptions, which amount to about two thirds of the budget, i.e., so-called mandatory programs. So the real impact is almost 10% on the remaining third of the budget, i.e., discretionary spending.


49 posted on 02/16/2013 7:57:43 AM PST by kabar
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To: SkyPilot
They are NOT "spending cuts" by any rational definition.

We are talking the baseline-budgeting scam here.

In baseline budgeting, if you were budgeting a 5% increase in spending, but cancel the increase, it's a 5% cut.

You're still spending the same amount of money as you did before, but they call it a "cut."

That's not a "cut."

50 posted on 02/16/2013 8:04:59 AM PST by E. Pluribus Unum ("Somebody has to be courageous enough to stand up to the bullies." --Dr. Ben Carson)
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