Monday, February 11, 2013

For Budget Clarity, Think Sequester/CR

Okay, everyone, time for a little budget basics.

For the last week, all I've heard about is that the new plan for the Republicans is to let the sequester take effect. 

But thinking about the sequester ($85B in cuts taking effect March 1 unless Congress does something) by itself makes no sense, and there's a pretty good chance that everyone in Congress (and the Oval Office) knows it. Because right after the sequester hits, on March 27, current funding for the government expires and a new Continuing Resolution will have to be passed. Given that the CR sets spending totals for the remainder of the year, it will -- not can, but will -- replace the sequester. Now, appropriators may choose to act differently based on what current policy might be (in other words, whether the sequester goes through as planned, is replaced, or is cancelled altogether). But there's no particularly reason that they have to accept whatever happens on March 1. That's especially true for the discretionary portion of the sequester, but it's pretty much also the case for the rest of it, too.

Of course, any cuts that are there for just a short while can still be quite disruptive, even if it's just four weeks. Still, that's almost certainly something most politicians would accept if it gets them out of a tough vote. As far as its effect on the CR: on the one hand, "locking" in the lower spending levels on everything might make it harder to secure some GOP votes than if the sequester had never bit. On the other, however, letting the sequester happen could allow Members of Congress to get to be heroes for restoring whatever gets cut on March 1. 

It's also certainly possible that the CR deadline ends with a government shutdown while everyone negotiates a deal they can all live with. And it's also possible that what we'll see at the end of this month is movement towards aligning the two deadlines, since it really doesn't make much sense to hold two such fights four weeks apart (although of course if they did strike a deal to replace the sequester by March 1 it could easily be packaged with early passage of the CR). 

At any rate: there's nothing magic about the sequester. It happens or doesn't happen, and then Congress does whatever they're going to do next, and nothing in the sequester binds Congress from replacing it. 


  1. Nice observation.

  2. I heard someone on MSNBC repeat it, although I don't remember attribution.

    1. Simple solution for solving some of America's problems:

      -flat tax rate for all individuals
      -significantly reduce military spending (let someone else fix the world's problems for a change)
      - make insurance companies non profit
      - bring offshore biz back to USA
      - cap interest rates on student loans- make education affordable
      -oil companies- why are they destroying our oceans, making record profits & charging us outrageous prices?
      -reform welfare: provide housing, education, job training, job placement, childcare etc by "x" amount of time, then you're on your own
      - immigration reform- allow illegal aliens to go thru reasonable process for USA citizenship
      - gun control - outlaw the ridiculous military style machine guys & significantly increase the cost for bullets
      - prison reform- overcrowded mostly for drug offenders, fine them heavily & make them work off the fine, offer drug rehab, job training/placement etc, similar to welfare reform terms
      - equal rights to marriage - no one has the right to tell anyone who they are allowed to love
      - women's body = women's choice. This is not a man's decision to be made
      - raise retirement age to help social security benefits since people are living longer
      - significant pay increase for teachers

      I have more, but this is a good start!

      I don't understand why these problems are so difficult &'s ridiculous .

    2. Why are they difficult? Because we have a congress in both houses and on both sides of the aisle who will not do what is correct for the nation, as a whole, fearing losing reelection. My idea is that they figure out what to spend, tax everyone something, thus creating a balanced budget. Congressional Leaders of both parties need to get together, make a deal, tell their caucuses to vote for the thing. A vote of 90% on the necessary Bills will allow them to say to the voters back home that almost everyone else voted for these Bills and they are for the good of the whole country. I doubt very few of them will lose their next reelection bid. I believe they are caving to monied political groups, and are afraid to do what they are elected to do. What they are elected to do is to turn Bills into laws that will benefit the entire country in the best way, not cave to special interest groups. Simple answer to a complicated question. Will Congress do these things. I believe not. I believe that it is a sad state of affairs that we can only get Bills passed into laws when both Houses of Congress and the Presidenency are controlled by the same party. I see no valid discussion about what is best for the entire country when that happens. Yet, that seems to be what will have to happen to get something done. And with that state of affairs, the getting something done doesn't seem to me to be the something that will benefit the entire country.


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