March 13, 2013 | 6 comments
What do tonight’s looming budget cuts hold in store for America? We polled our contributors for the answer.
Sequestration is a “Frankenstein’s monster,” a “doomsday machine!” So warned one Christopher Matthews last week as he contemplated the impending fall of the budgetary meat cleaver. The Christian faithful are warned that no one knows the day—or hour—of the end, but in this case we know the precise minute: tonight, March 1, 2013, at 11:59 pm.
While we can perhaps all agree that Mr. Matthews’ bloviations contain a bit of uncharacteristic hysteria, there are plenty of more temperate questions surrounding the sequester. What exactly will happen tonight? Will the cuts impact our economy? Our military readiness? Should they fall disproportionately on the Pentagon? We rounded up a few bright lights of the Spectator and Washington commentariat, and teased out these answers (which will be cross-posted on our blog throughout the day):
Obama was certain that this sequester — falling equally on Pentagon spending and non-defense spending — would scare Republicans to vote for a tax hike to replace their spending cuts. He had watched a handful of “Republican spokesmen” on CNN fainting at the thought of defense spending increasing too slowly, and unconcerned with the projected annual taxation jumping from $2.4 trillion to $5.0 trillion over the decade.
Almost to a man and woman the GOP knows that the Pentagon, along with all government programs, can afford to grow more slowly than Obama had planned.
So now Obama is reduced to the equivalent of denouncing his own baby as too ugly to present in public.
Let’s look at the numbers. A good starting point is 2008, the last full year before Barack Obama pushed “stimulus” funds through a Democratic Congress — but after domestic discretionary spending had already risen a stupefying 74 percent in just the eight years from 2000 to 2008. (All numbers come from OMB historical tables, Table 5.6.) That spending category in 2008 was $494 billion. In 2014, current estimates place domestic discretionary spending at $550 billion — a 12% increase, which outstrips inflation. Surely, there’s plenty of fat in there somewhere.
On the other hand, defense spending in 2008 was $686 billion. Current estimates for 2014 push that down to $558 billion — an 18 percent cut even before taking inflation into account. When something is being cut that much, that fast, the “meat cleaver” approach is especially worrisome because it really does threaten to slice into sinew and bone. This is particularly problematic for national defense, which is the first and most important obligation of the national government.
This is an exercise in demonstrating how America cannot live without Big Government. Take a good listen to all these supposed horror stories. Teachers pink-slipped, prison doors opened, no more help getting a job. One of my favorites, per the Washington Post is the horror that will be the cut in funding for the “STOP Violence Against Women Program.”
This gem flows, I believe, from the Clinton era, President Clinton signing VAWA, as it was known, into law in 1994. In typical liberal style, with X number of cowed Republicans going along for the ride, the act set up an office in the bureaucracy (the Justice Department in this case), hired more bureaucrats, and got bucks — some $1.6 billion in the day.
Since that day, as is the pattern with these things, this has become the typical liberal sacred cow. To even whisper against this is to commit heresy.
The question of “who will be blamed politically” assumes that the public will see sequestration as a negative. I suspect that, at least after the first few days, that assumption will be invalid. It will not turn into a question of the parties trying to blame each other, but rather of Republicans taking credit for not allowing it to be replaced with tax hikes. They should be careful not to crow over it as great policy because it’s not and because it was Obama’s idea. Instead, they need to make clear that Republicans made the best of yet another terrible situation created by this president’s remarkable unwillingness and inability to lead.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online