At the core of the dysfunction in Washington is this dilemma: Government must approve spending cuts, yet government has no interest in approving spending cuts. Federal employees are quite content with their lifestyles—46 percent more in retirement benefits than the private sector, cozy job security—and don’t want to see them trimmed. Thus even spending reductions that make it through Congress rarely make a difference.
Look at what happened with the sequester.
By now just reading the word “sequester” should render the average reader cowering under his desk while “Flight of the Valkyries” thunders in his mind. Sequestration, after all, was supposed to hack apart the social order as we knew it. Chris Matthews called it a “doomsday machine.” President Obama warned that “people are going to be hurt.” The Congressional Budget Office predicted 750,000 jobs could be lost. Sequestration, as the trendy metaphor went, was a meat cleaver when what we really needed was a scalpel.