Trying to head off the looming sequestration budget cuts (most of which aren’t cuts at all), President Obama yesterday released a guide of how each state will be affected. He’s putting particular emphasis on education cuts. As the Washington Post darkly warns, “The Washington area would be hit hard.”
Let’s take the Washington tri-state area – Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia – as a test sample and do a little back-of-the-bar-napkin math. According to the president’s itemized hysterics, the District will lose $533,000 as a result of the sequester. Washington currently budgets $805.1 million for public schools. That means the meat cleaver sequester would lop off a whopping 0.06% of Washington’s public schools budget.
Likewise Virginia spends about $6.5 billion on primary and secondary education at the state level. Sequestration removes $14 million, a .02% cut. Maryland spends about $7 billion and loses $14.4 million through sequestration, another .02% decrease.
Given the complexities of budgeting, these are fairly crude calculations. But the point is that sequestration is the biggest glob of hysteria about nothing that Washington has seen in a long time. DC, for example, is currently running a $140 million surplus. And we’re supposed to believe that a $533,000 cut will leave teachers starving in the streets?
The president is trying to paint the sequester as dangerous to our future. He’s right. Because the cuts are so small, they do almost nothing to ameliorate the problem of our enormous debt.