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Old 01-24-2013, 11:50 AM  
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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The Sequester and/or Government Shutdown Approacheth

Anybody else ****ing fed up with this shit? 2013: Year of the Cliff.

Sequester hits March 1st. Government shutdown hits March 27th.

Here's the conversation on the fiscal cliff. Here's the conversation on the debt ceiling (which we'll be returning to by May... sigh).

The White House discusses the entirety of the impact in post 136. It's devastating.

Here's the FAQ on the sequester (from September):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...ter-explained/

The sequester, explained
Posted by Suzy Khimm
on September 14, 2012 at 2:35 pm

The White House has released its plan explaining how the sequester’s mandatory spending cuts to defense and domestic spending will be implemented in 2013. Here’s the background on what the sequester is, how it happened and what happens from here:

What is the sequester?

It’s a package of automatic spending cuts that’s part of the Budget Control Act (BCA), which was passed in August 2011. The cuts, which are projected to total $1.2 trillion, are scheduled to begin in 2013 and end in 2021, evenly divided over the nine-year period. The cuts are also evenly split between defense spending — with spending on wars exempt — and discretionary domestic spending, which exempts most spending on entitlements like Social Security and Medicaid, as the Bipartisan Policy Center explains. The total cuts for 2013 will be $109 billion, according to the new White House report.

Under the BCA, the cuts were triggered to take effect beginning Jan. 1 if the supercommittee didn’t to agree to a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package by Nov. 23, 2011. The group failed to reach a deal, so the sequester was triggered.

Why does everyone hate the sequester so much?

Legislators don’t have any discretion with the across-the-board cuts: They are intended to hit all affected programs equally, though the cuts to individual areas will range from 7.6 percent to 9.6 percent (and 2 percent to Medicare providers). The indiscriminate pain is meant to pressure legislators into making a budget deal to avoid the cuts.

How would these cuts affect the country?

Since the details just came out, it’s not entirely clear yet. But many top defense officials have warned that the cuts will lead the military to be “hollowed out.” Democratic legislators have similarly warned about the impact on vital social programs. And defense, health care and other industries that are significantly dependent on federal spending say that major job losses will happen if the cuts end up taking effect.

At the same time, if legislators try to avoid the sequester without replacing it with real deficit reduction, the U.S. could face another credit downgrade.

Why did Congress and the White House agree to the sequester in the first place?

The government was approaching its debt limit, which needed to be raised through a congressional vote or else the country would default in early August 2011. While Democrats were in favor of a “clean” vote without strings attached, Republicans were demanding substantial cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit.

President Obama and congressional leaders ultimately agreed to the BCA, which would allow the debt ceiling to be raised by $2.1 trillion in exchange for the establishment of the supercommittee tied to the fall-back sequester, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explains. The deal also includes mandatory spending reductions on top of the sequester by putting caps on non-entitlement discretionary spending that will reduce funding by $1 trillion by 2021.

Who supported the debt-ceiling deal?

Party leaders, the White House and most members of Congress supported the debt-ceiling deal: The BCA passed on a 268-161 vote in the House, with about one-third of House Republicans and half of House Democrats opposing it. It passed in the Senate, 74-26, with six Democratic senators and 19 Republican senators opposing it.

Can the sequester be avoided?

Yes, but only if Congress passes another budget deal that would achieve at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Both Democrats and Republicans have offered proposals to do so, but there still isn’t much progress on a deal. The political obstacles are the same as during the supercommittee negotiations: Republicans don’t want to raise taxes to generate revenue, while Democrats are reluctant to make dramatic changes to entitlement programs to achieve savings.

What happens from here?

No one on Capitol Hill thinks any deal will happen before Election Day. After Nov. 6, Congress will have just a few weeks to come up with an alternative to the sequester. The challenge is complicated by the fact that the Bush tax cuts, the payroll tax, unemployment benefits and a host of other tax breaks are all scheduled to expire Dec. 31. The cumulative impact of all of these scheduled cuts and changes is what’s popularly known as the fiscal cliff. There’s already talk of passing a short-term stopgap budget plan during the lame-duck session to buy legislators more time to come up with a grand bargain.

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Old 02-22-2013, 09:07 AM   #271
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Originally Posted by BigRedChief View Post
BS. Giving $4 BILLION a year to big oil companies that have profits of $40 BILLION a year is insane. No clear thinking individual can justify that.
I've explained this to you before. That $4 billion isn't being given to the big oil companies. The majority of it is made up of things like business expenses that all companies are eligible to deduct from profits to CALCULATE INCOME. You just don't know what you're talking about. You're mindlessly regurgitating something you got from the liberal media bubble.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:16 AM   #272
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I was also talking about the Dream act, jobs bill, carbon tax etc. You can't seriously deny that Obama proposed Republican ideas and was rejected by Republicans? Republicans proposed a bill put it on the Senate floor, Obama comes out and says good idea, the republicans pull their own bill. Right from the start. **** bipartisanship. FU Obama.
The devil is in the details.

And you can't possibly call the Dream act a Republican idea. Even if it was completely drafted by a Republican (and it wasn't), immigration policy is one of the least partisan issues in Washington today. The Republicans don't speak as one on it. And it's even more of a stretch to call any tax on carbon a Republican idea.

What you describe (Republicans pulling a bill after democrats embraced it) happened literally one time.

The democrats have been rejecting bipartisanship from the beginning just as much as Republicans. To Obama/Reid/Pelosi, bipartisanship appeared to mean Republicans signing on to whatever the democrat leadership decided was an adequate compromise. Real governing partnerships don't work that way. This administration has done a worse job of working with or even negotiating with the opposition of any in my lifetime. It's pathetic.

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Originally Posted by BigRedChief View Post

Judicial nominees
Bullcrap. There is no equivalency. Here's the facts. You are wrong.
I say that it took GWBush 60 votes to move legislation through the Senate and you respond with graphs from the liberal media bubble about the frequency of filibusters and judicial nominee confirmation rates. Those things are not the same. There's no filibuster if you don't try to move legislation that you already know doesn't have the 60 votes to pass. The democrats wanted a lot of filibusters so they forced them.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:39 AM   #273
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post

And you can't possibly call the Dream act a Republican idea. Even if it was completely drafted by a Republican (and it wasn't), immigration policy is one of the least partisan issues in Washington today. The Republicans don't speak as one on it. And it's even more of a stretch to call any tax on carbon a Republican idea.

What you describe (Republicans pulling a bill after democrats embraced it) happened literally one time.
Would you like to place a wager on either of your points? Republicans proposed only one bill and pulled it or the carbon one was originally a Republican proposal?
Quote:
Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
I say that it took GWBush 60 votes to move legislation through the Senate and you respond with graphs from the liberal media bubble about the frequency of filibusters and judicial nominee confirmation rates.
The senate and the Senate judiciary committe are now liberal media?

You can't win this argument. Give it up. There were way more filibusters under Obama than Bush. Case closed. Fact.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:04 AM   #274
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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/22/us....html?hp&_r=1&

For Obama and Team, Calm, Not Crisis, in Latest Fiscal Battle
By JEFF ZELENY and JONATHAN WEISMAN
Published: February 21, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama is just seven days away from the first significant test of his second term as deep spending cuts loom, yet inside the White House a clear sense of confidence stands in contrast to the air of crisis that surrounded previous fiscal showdowns with Republicans.

The confrontation holds peril for both the president and Republicans. But for now, Mr. Obama believes he is acting from a greater position of strength, advisers say, pointing to several recent polls that show he holds an upper hand in the budget debate. Yet his standing would be at risk if the so-called sequester caused economic growth to collapse.

With little sign of movement as the March 1 deadline approaches, the president placed calls on Thursday to Speaker John A. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, in an outreach that Republicans interpreted as aimed as much at fending off criticism for not reaching out sooner to Congressional leaders as trying to open a new dialogue.

The calls came as the White House pursued a balancing act: use the power of the presidency to demonstrate the consequences of the $85 billion in across-the-board spending reductions while not allowing the fight to consume the administration and derail its second-term priorities.

As a result, the sense of urgency from earlier budget fights, which included all-night meetings and dueling news conferences at the White House and on Capitol Hill, have given way to more of a business-as-usual feeling in the West Wing. The budget debate is taking place alongside immigration and gun control discussions, rather than overtaking them.

It is a lesson, the president told his aides this week, drawn from the experience of back-to-back fights in 2011 over shutting down the government and raising the nation’s borrowing power. He has repeatedly personalized the argument and taken it outside Washington, including a trip on Tuesday to Newport News, Va., where the strong military presence will be affected if deep budget cuts are enacted.

The standoff with Republicans may not be a new one, but it is fundamentally different from the previous clashes that have ended with Obama victories. Several of Mr. Obama’s advisers who helped guide the administration through the previous fights are no longer at the White House.

The second-term team, led by the new chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, is confronting its biggest challenge yet. While Mr. McDonough was in the West Wing for past budget battles, his portfolio was national security.

Other advisers dealing with the sequester are also new, including Miguel Rodriguez, the top liaison to Congress, who was meeting aides to Congressional Republicans for the first time on Thursday. The positions of both sides seem to have hardened in recent weeks, rather than moved toward a compromise.

A new poll released Thursday suggests that after the last few years of repeated financial crises and wrangling between Congressional Republicans and the president, Americans may be increasingly inured to threats of economic doomsday.

The poll, by Pew Research Center/USA Today, found that 49 percent say the automatic cuts should be delayed if no deal is struck by the deadline, but a full 40 percent say it would be preferable to let the cuts go into effect. Even one-third of Democrats back letting the cuts take effect; Republicans and independents are evenly split on the issue.

The public is not paying much attention to the issue, as a plurality of Americans say they have heard “a little” about the sequester, the poll found, and about 3 in 10 say they have heard nothing at all. But the public continues to support a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit, with 7 in 10, including wide majorities across party lines, agreeing it is essential for the president to enact major deficit legislation this year.

The nationwide telephone survey was conducted on landlines and cellphones Feb. 13-18 with 1,504 adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

In 2011, the president and Democrats were able to rally overwhelming public support for an extension of an expiring cut to the payroll tax — and against the Republican position that such an extension had to be paid for by spending cuts. But in that case, doing nothing was intolerable to most Republicans because it meant raising taxes.

That was even truer in December in the showdown over the “fiscal cliff,” when every tax cut signed by President George W. Bush was set to expire. Republicans wanted to stop taxes from rising on anyone, but by refusing to let taxes rise on the wealthy, they would effectively allow taxes to rise on everyone. Again, inaction was unacceptable.

This time, Mr. Obama needs Republicans to affirmatively take action to raise taxes when inaction, to many members of Congress, is entirely preferable.

By allowing the across-the-board cuts to go into force, Republicans would be showing their voters they had done something tangible — and painful — to scale back the government, the primary reason that many Republicans ran for office. Federal spending subject to Congress’s annual discretion will drop to levels not seen since the 1950s, as measured against the size of the economy.

Yet if Mr. Boehner met Mr. Obama’s demands, he would be breaking promises he made to ardent conservatives in the House Republican Conference.

“At this point, we continue to reach out to the Republicans and say this is not going to be good for the economy, and it’s not going to be good for ordinary people,” Mr. Obama said Thursday in one of three radio interviews he gave from the Oval Office. “But I don’t know if they’re going to move, and that’s what we’re going to have to try to keep pushing over the next seven, eight days.”
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:09 AM   #275
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http://washingtonexaminer.com/byron-...rticle/2522241

Budget hawks question Pentagon's doomsday scenarios
Byron York
February 21, 2013 | 8:00 pm

There's no doubt President Obama is using the so-called Washington Monument maneuver in the fight with Republicans over sequestration budget cuts. It's a time-honored tactic of bureaucratic warfare: When faced with cuts, pick the best-known and most revered symbol of government and threaten to shut it down. Close the Washington Monument and say, "See? This is what happens when you cut the budget." Meanwhile, all sorts of other eminently cuttable government expenditures go untouched.

So now Obama is warning of drastic cuts in food safety, air traffic control, police and fire protection -- in all sorts of services that will allegedly be slashed if the rate of growth of some parts of the federal budget is slowed.

But perhaps the biggest example of the Washington Monument maneuver is coming from the Defense Department, where it goes by another name. Over many decades of defense budget battles, the Pentagon has often used a tactic known as a "gold watch." It means to answer a budget cut proposal by selecting for elimination a program so important and valued -- a gold watch -- that Pentagon chiefs know political leaders will restore funding rather than go through with the cut.

So now, with sequestration approaching, the Pentagon has announced that the possibility of budget cuts has forced the Navy to delay deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf. With tensions with Iran as high as they've ever been, that would leave the U.S. with just one carrier, instead of the preferred two, in that deeply troubled region.

"Already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf," Obama said at a White House appearance on Tuesday, in case anyone missed the news.

Some military analysts were immediately suspicious. "A total gold watch," said one retired general officer who asked not to be named. Military commentator and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters called the Navy's move "ostentatious," comparing it to "Donald Trump claiming he can't afford a cab."

And Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is worried not only about the Truman decision but also the Navy's announcement that it cannot afford to refuel another carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln. "I am concerned that these decisions are being made for the purpose of adding drama to the sequestration debate," Hunter wrote in a Feb. 12 letter to the Pentagon, "given the continuation of other programs that are worthy of cost-cuts or even elimination."

Meanwhile, with a budget higher than it was even at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Pentagon is resisting attempts to force it to audit its own finances. Congress passed a law back in 1990 requiring such an audit, to no avail. Last year, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act, which would try again to force a look inside the maze of Pentagon spending.

Now, with the Defense Department sounding the alarm about sequestration, some budget hawks on Capitol Hill are doubtful. "It's difficult to take these doomsday scenarios seriously when the Pentagon can't even audit its own books," says a spokesman for Coburn. "We would argue that the Defense Department has the authority to reprioritize funding toward vital needs and away from less vital spending. As Sen. Coburn has detailed, the department spends nearly $70 billion each year on 'nondefense' defense spending that has nothing to do with our national security."

If the sequestration cuts go into effect, many members of Congress will be watching the Pentagon closely. Hunter, for example, will monitor the Navy's "Green Fleet" biofuel initiative that cost $170 million in 2012-2013, as well as a troubled battlefield software system that has cost $28 billion. Others will be watching for conventional waste. When sequestration came, what did Pentagon leaders cut?

"If you laid off these people, or you diverted this aircraft carrier, then why did you go ahead and travel to a conference in Bermuda or continue to pay contractors' inflated salaries?" says one Senate aide. "Those are the questions we are going to ask."

All the lawmakers involved would rather see more carefully considered budget cuts than are called for in the sequestration law. And all realize the unique and respected nature of the Defense Department's mission; one visit to Arlington National Cemetery proves that.

But budget hawks also know that the Pentagon houses some of the most accomplished bureaucratic infighters in government. And with sequestration nearly here, they know a gold watch when they see one.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:14 AM   #276
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http://www.rollcall.com/news/rothenb...1.html?pos=hln

Rothenberg: Democrats' Economic Narrative Still Trumps GOP's
By Stuart Rothenberg
Feb. 21, 2013, 3:23 p.m.

Congressional Republicans figured that after the fiscal cliff, they’d have the advantage talking about the sequester and, down the road, the continued funding of the government.

Clearly, they were wrong.

One of the reasons Republicans are faring so badly these days is that the Democratic narrative, presented most persuasively and effectively by the White House, plays more easily into the national media’s preference for dramatic stories that evoke emotional responses.

In the lead-up to the fiscal cliff, the debt limit and most recently the sequester, Democrats have simply done a better job than Republicans talking about the allegedly disastrous effects of higher taxes, expiring unemployment benefits and potential chaos in the financial markets.

During the past few weeks, Democrats have raised the specter of key personnel from teachers to meat inspectors being thrown out of work if the sequester isn’t delayed, to say nothing of the surge in unemployment nationally and the possibility of a recession.

The Republican message? Taxes are too high. We just raised taxes. We won’t compromise.

And the party of Lincoln and Reagan wonders why it is losing.

Here is how President Barack Obama put the effect of spending cuts Tuesday during his remarks about the sequester:

“Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.”

But that’s not all.

“Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings,” he continued.

Television covers this narrative better than it covers the Republican message, which is that the nation’s deficit and debt are at unsustainable levels and cannot go on increasing without profound economic consequences that will hurt all Americans eventually.

The president can line up dozens of teachers to complain about how they and their students will be hurt by spending cuts. TV reporters can show footage of meat lockers and warn that fewer meat inspectors will increase the danger that tainted meat will make it into the stores and onto people’s dining room tables.

It isn’t that the Republican argument about the nation’s long-term economic health isn’t important. But the threat seems further off in the future, and it is more difficult for journalists, and Republicans, to show an immediate human cost to deficits and underfunded entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, though it certainly is not impossible.

Until Republicans figure out a way to re-fashion the political debate and present their vision in a more compelling way — which means telling stories that evoke strong emotions in average people — the White House and Democrats in Congress will continue to have the advantage.

“We raised taxes last time, and we aren’t going to do it again” is not a compelling message against the dire messages and images we hear and see from Democrats and from the media.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:17 AM   #277
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Nailed it.

http://theweek.com/article/index/240...-spending-cuts

The sequester showdown isn't really about spending cuts
Taegan Goddard
February 21, 2013, at 2:55 PM

Despite the rhetoric about how damaging the automatic spending cuts mandated to take effect on March 1 will be, the debate on Capitol Hill isn't really about spending cuts at all.

In fact, President Obama has already proposed more spending cuts that the sequester would guarantee — including to Social Security and Medicare programs — if the Republicans would just agree to close certain "tax loopholes."

Why wouldn't Republicans want greater spending cuts in return for additional revenue?

It's because the sequester fight is about protecting current low tax rates on capital gains and dividends and keeping open the carried interest loophole that hedge fund and private equity managers use to reduce their own tax burden.

In other words, President Obama would agree to greater spending cuts if only Republicans agree to raise revenue by spreading the tax burden more fairly. A compromise that included both spending cuts and new revenues would obviously reduce the federal deficit by significantly more than the sequester alone.

But Republicans have dug in, saying new tax revenues are off the table.

Bottom line: Republicans don't really care anymore about the deficit and spending cuts than they say Democrats do.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:22 AM   #278
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Would you like to place a wager on either of your points? Republicans proposed only one bill and pulled it or the carbon one was originally a Republican proposal?
Feel free to prove me wrong on either one if you can. Just be aware of what I said in the previous post. Just because one Republican proposed something similar, doesn't mean that a given proposal made by democrats is a Republican proposal. So show me a carbon tax idea that had significant Republican support but that was later rejected by Republicans when the democrats embraced it.

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Originally Posted by BigRedChief View Post
The senate and the Senate judiciary committe are now liberal media?

You can't win this argument. Give it up. There were way more filibusters under Obama than Bush. Case closed. Fact.
Your liberal bubble talking points aren't relevant. Number of filibusters is not the measure of merit that proves the point.
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:26 AM   #279
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http://washingtonexaminer.com/byron-...rticle/2522241

Budget hawks question Pentagon's doomsday scenarios
Byron York
February 21, 2013 | 8:00 pm

There's no doubt President Obama is using the so-called Washington Monument maneuver in the fight with Republicans over sequestration budget cuts. It's a time-honored tactic of bureaucratic warfare: When faced with cuts, pick the best-known and most revered symbol of government and threaten to shut it down. Close the Washington Monument and say, "See? This is what happens when you cut the budget." Meanwhile, all sorts of other eminently cuttable government expenditures go untouched.

So now Obama is warning of drastic cuts in food safety, air traffic control, police and fire protection -- in all sorts of services that will allegedly be slashed if the rate of growth of some parts of the federal budget is slowed.

But perhaps the biggest example of the Washington Monument maneuver is coming from the Defense Department, where it goes by another name. Over many decades of defense budget battles, the Pentagon has often used a tactic known as a "gold watch." It means to answer a budget cut proposal by selecting for elimination a program so important and valued -- a gold watch -- that Pentagon chiefs know political leaders will restore funding rather than go through with the cut.

So now, with sequestration approaching, the Pentagon has announced that the possibility of budget cuts has forced the Navy to delay deployment of the carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf. With tensions with Iran as high as they've ever been, that would leave the U.S. with just one carrier, instead of the preferred two, in that deeply troubled region.

"Already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf," Obama said at a White House appearance on Tuesday, in case anyone missed the news.

Some military analysts were immediately suspicious. "A total gold watch," said one retired general officer who asked not to be named. Military commentator and retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters called the Navy's move "ostentatious," comparing it to "Donald Trump claiming he can't afford a cab."

And Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is worried not only about the Truman decision but also the Navy's announcement that it cannot afford to refuel another carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln. "I am concerned that these decisions are being made for the purpose of adding drama to the sequestration debate," Hunter wrote in a Feb. 12 letter to the Pentagon, "given the continuation of other programs that are worthy of cost-cuts or even elimination."

Meanwhile, with a budget higher than it was even at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Pentagon is resisting attempts to force it to audit its own finances. Congress passed a law back in 1990 requiring such an audit, to no avail. Last year, Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act, which would try again to force a look inside the maze of Pentagon spending.

Now, with the Defense Department sounding the alarm about sequestration, some budget hawks on Capitol Hill are doubtful. "It's difficult to take these doomsday scenarios seriously when the Pentagon can't even audit its own books," says a spokesman for Coburn. "We would argue that the Defense Department has the authority to reprioritize funding toward vital needs and away from less vital spending. As Sen. Coburn has detailed, the department spends nearly $70 billion each year on 'nondefense' defense spending that has nothing to do with our national security."

If the sequestration cuts go into effect, many members of Congress will be watching the Pentagon closely. Hunter, for example, will monitor the Navy's "Green Fleet" biofuel initiative that cost $170 million in 2012-2013, as well as a troubled battlefield software system that has cost $28 billion. Others will be watching for conventional waste. When sequestration came, what did Pentagon leaders cut?

"If you laid off these people, or you diverted this aircraft carrier, then why did you go ahead and travel to a conference in Bermuda or continue to pay contractors' inflated salaries?" says one Senate aide. "Those are the questions we are going to ask."

All the lawmakers involved would rather see more carefully considered budget cuts than are called for in the sequestration law. And all realize the unique and respected nature of the Defense Department's mission; one visit to Arlington National Cemetery proves that.

But budget hawks also know that the Pentagon houses some of the most accomplished bureaucratic infighters in government. And with sequestration nearly here, they know a gold watch when they see one.
Noted foreign policy hawk and strong defense advocate Ralph Peters makes this same argument in favor of letting the sequester happen. He agrees with almost everyone that the sequester is a dumb way to go about making cuts and that the defense budget isn't the source of our fiscal problems, but he's disgusted by the "washington monument" maneuvering by the pentagon. (He calls it "washington monument" rather than "gold watch", but as York notes, they're the same thing.)
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:28 AM   #280
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Nailed it.

http://theweek.com/article/index/240...-spending-cuts

The sequester showdown isn't really about spending cuts
Taegan Goddard
February 21, 2013, at 2:55 PM

Despite the rhetoric about how damaging the automatic spending cuts mandated to take effect on March 1 will be, the debate on Capitol Hill isn't really about spending cuts at all.

In fact, President Obama has already proposed more spending cuts that the sequester would guarantee — including to Social Security and Medicare programs — if the Republicans would just agree to close certain "tax loopholes."

Why wouldn't Republicans want greater spending cuts in return for additional revenue?

It's because the sequester fight is about protecting current low tax rates on capital gains and dividends and keeping open the carried interest loophole that hedge fund and private equity managers use to reduce their own tax burden.

In other words, President Obama would agree to greater spending cuts if only Republicans agree to raise revenue by spreading the tax burden more fairly. A compromise that included both spending cuts and new revenues would obviously reduce the federal deficit by significantly more than the sequester alone.

But Republicans have dug in, saying new tax revenues are off the table.

Bottom line: Republicans don't really care anymore about the deficit and spending cuts than they say Democrats do.
Rubbish.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:29 AM   #281
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http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...0BJD2220130219

Budget cuts would close meat plants and parks, cause layoffs-USDA
By Charles Abbott
Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:57pm EST
  • Furloughs would temporarily shut US meat plants
  • Food aid to 600,000 mothers, infants in peril
  • USDA would close forest campgrounds, picnic sites
  • Timing of furloughs, other cuts is uncertain
WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department would furlough up to one-third of its workers if automatic spending cuts take effect at the end of the month, the agency warned, with effects ranging from a two-week shutdown of meat plants to summertime closure of hundreds of national forest campgrounds.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described the impact of the cuts, amounting to $2 billion, in a letter that warned "these furloughs and other actions would severely disrupt our ability to provide a broad range of public services."

USDA released a copy of the letter on Tuesday.

Vilsack reiterated the prospect of "a nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of (meat) inspection personnel" for "as much as 15 days of lost production, costing over $10 billion in production losses."

Meat packers and processors cannot sell beef, pork, lamb and poultry meat without the USDA inspection seal. Inspection of meat for export or import also would stop during a furlough, said USDA. The industry has appealed to USDA to find ways to avoid a disruptive shutdown.

Vilsack did not say how soon furloughs might occur. An aide said she had no additional information. Vilsack assured USDA employees in early February they would get at least 30 days' notice if they were being furloughed.

"Should sequestration occur, we would likely need to implement furloughs impacting about a third of our workforce, as well as other actions," Vilsack wrote in the letter to Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, head of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

USDA has roughly 100,000 employees, down by 4,000 in two years.

Up to 600,000 low-income women and infants could be cut from the so-called WIC program that provides supplemental food and nutrition education if the budget cuts last for the rest of this fiscal year, according to the letter. Current enrollment is nearly 9 million pregnant women, new mothers and their children.

Other cuts, Vilsack said, could include:

-Closure of 670 of the Forest Service's 19,000 recreation sites, such as campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads, in the national forests and shorter hours at visitor centers. "This would largely occur during the peak use seasons in spring and summer," said USDA. The Forest Service would reduce its law enforcement force by 35 workers to 707 officers.

-A work pause on the Census of Agriculture. "Data will become incomplete and will not be statistically sound for publication," said USDA. The census, conducted every five years, provides valuable data on farm operation and output that is used in USDA's forecasts. USDA faced repeated funding shortages for its crop and livestock reports in the past couple of years.

-A slowdown in USDA aid to landowners wanting expert advice or matching funds to control runoff from fields and feedlots and a reduction in USDA-backed loans to farmers to buy land or cover operating costs until harvest.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:32 AM   #282
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/...0BJD2220130219

Budget cuts would close meat plants and parks, cause layoffs-USDA
By Charles Abbott
Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:57pm EST
  • Furloughs would temporarily shut US meat plants
  • Food aid to 600,000 mothers, infants in peril
  • USDA would close forest campgrounds, picnic sites
  • Timing of furloughs, other cuts is uncertain
WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department would furlough up to one-third of its workers if automatic spending cuts take effect at the end of the month, the agency warned, with effects ranging from a two-week shutdown of meat plants to summertime closure of hundreds of national forest campgrounds.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described the impact of the cuts, amounting to $2 billion, in a letter that warned "these furloughs and other actions would severely disrupt our ability to provide a broad range of public services."

USDA released a copy of the letter on Tuesday.

Vilsack reiterated the prospect of "a nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of (meat) inspection personnel" for "as much as 15 days of lost production, costing over $10 billion in production losses."

Meat packers and processors cannot sell beef, pork, lamb and poultry meat without the USDA inspection seal. Inspection of meat for export or import also would stop during a furlough, said USDA. The industry has appealed to USDA to find ways to avoid a disruptive shutdown.

Vilsack did not say how soon furloughs might occur. An aide said she had no additional information. Vilsack assured USDA employees in early February they would get at least 30 days' notice if they were being furloughed.

"Should sequestration occur, we would likely need to implement furloughs impacting about a third of our workforce, as well as other actions," Vilsack wrote in the letter to Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, head of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

USDA has roughly 100,000 employees, down by 4,000 in two years.

Up to 600,000 low-income women and infants could be cut from the so-called WIC program that provides supplemental food and nutrition education if the budget cuts last for the rest of this fiscal year, according to the letter. Current enrollment is nearly 9 million pregnant women, new mothers and their children.

Other cuts, Vilsack said, could include:

-Closure of 670 of the Forest Service's 19,000 recreation sites, such as campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads, in the national forests and shorter hours at visitor centers. "This would largely occur during the peak use seasons in spring and summer," said USDA. The Forest Service would reduce its law enforcement force by 35 workers to 707 officers.

-A work pause on the Census of Agriculture. "Data will become incomplete and will not be statistically sound for publication," said USDA. The census, conducted every five years, provides valuable data on farm operation and output that is used in USDA's forecasts. USDA faced repeated funding shortages for its crop and livestock reports in the past couple of years.

-A slowdown in USDA aid to landowners wanting expert advice or matching funds to control runoff from fields and feedlots and a reduction in USDA-backed loans to farmers to buy land or cover operating costs until harvest.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:34 AM   #283
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That's bad news for illegal immigrants. Or is Vilsack going to make sure that only US citizens lose their jobs?
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:02 PM   #284
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http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...icane-victims/

What the sequester means for hurricane victims
Posted by Dylan Matthews
on February 22, 2013 at 11:05 am

Barry Scanlon served as special assistant to James Lee Witt during Witt’s tenure as director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for President Clinton. Today, he is senior vice president for government relations at Witt O’Brien’s and was president of Witt Associates, Witt’s disaster preparedness, response, and recovery consulting firm. He spoke on the phone Thursday afternoon; a lightly edited transcript follows.

Dylan Matthews: FEMA operates on a different budgeting system than other domestic programs do. Walk me through how that works.

Barry Scanlon:
Sure. FEMA’s post-disaster funding — where they support states, and locals, and universities, and people who are eligible — comes out, per the Stafford act, of the Disaster Relief Fund, which is semi-funded on a regular basis, but is replenished in supplementals.

Under the sequester FEMA would take a $1 billion cut in the DRF, and their projections are that they would run out of the money before the end of the fiscal year. If you had a spring flooding season that was higher than expected (which people don’t really think will happen, for what it’s worth) or a more active than usual tornado season, that runs out earlier. And as you know, the fiscal year ends September 3.

So you could have a bigger than average, or even a catastrophic, event in the hurricane season in July or August, where they would be thrust back into the same political maelstrom that happened with Sandy, where they waited as long as they could after the event to pass a supplemental. Governors, mayors, other elected officials — they can’t make decisions unless they know they have a federal partner.

The other side is they’re having to cut state preparedness grants by 5 percent and historically, even an objective person, but certainly people in emergency management think those programs are underfunded in the first place. We should be doing more mitigation, more prevention, never mind cutting it. So that is going to mean that they’re losing tens of millions of dollars that could be working on preventing damage in the next disaster, which is going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Historically, the studies have shown that there’s anything from a 4 to 1, 8 to 1 return to spending on prevention. It’s vitally important to spend on prevention.

Dylan Matthews: So what happens if the Disaster Relief Fund runs out? Do they just keep spending and hope Congress passes a supplemental?

Barry Scanlon:
It gets worse than that. We work for a lot of states and localities helping them do recovery. That’s part of what our business does. What FEMA ends up doing, because they’re good stewards, is that they have money to spend for emergencies. Sandbags, removal of hazardous waste — it has to be spent that day. As opposed to rebuilding a hospital or something where you don’t want to delay, but you could delay it a week. There is not an immediate health and safety risk.

But what they do is stop paying for the recovery of past disasters. If you got hit by the tornadoes in Joplin, or even by Katrina, and those things are still being worked out, they don’t approve the paperwork. They can’t legally approve it. It slows down the recovery process for all the events of the past several years.

These programs were designed to get people back up on their feet as quickly and efficiently as possible. If the schools aren’t open, people aren’t going to work. If the bridge is damaged, it takes an extra hour to get back to work. Every time you’re slowing down the recovery process, you’re imposing an anti-stimulus on people who are trying to get through the recovery of an event.

Dylan Matthews: But some of the FEMA budget, salaries and such is on the regular budget and will also get cut. What will that do?

Barry Scanlon:
I’m not informed about what Obama is going to cut out of the fire assistance grants, I don’t have the information on that. But on the FEMA perspective, it’s a relatively small agency. It’s only a couple thousand people. It will hurt FEMA, but the people who are out working on disasters are funded out of the disaster relief fund, and that’s not being impaired tomorrow. FEMA is not going to be pulling people out of New York and New Jersey, but at some point they will if these things aren’t resolved.

Dylan Matthews: Does this hamper preparatory purchases of things like sandbags that FEMA needs to have to be ready for disasters?

Barry Scanlon:
The FEMA disaster programs are designed as reimbursement programs. So I’m Des Moines, I may have people on call to provide these sandbags, so I pay those people and then I go back to FEMA to pay me back for the sandbags. [The sequester] doesn’t affect that as much.

It’s easy to see this as something that doesn’t have an immediate effect. But when you’ve been in areas affected by these events, it’s devastating, and it doesn’t end in a week, and it doesn’t end in a month. Governor Christie has said one of the main roads in New Jersey is not going to be fixed for two years. They’re going to rebuild it in the right way so it won’t wash out the next time. They’re doing the right thing by rebuilding it back to the right standard. So there are these ripple effects. You want as much energy behind recovery as possible. Any time you stifle that, it’ll slow down recovery, and slow down prevention.

FEMA briefed all the state directors and said, “We don’t have any grant guidance because we don’t know what money we have to spend.” Let’s say for sake of argument I’m the state of Illinois, and I’m making up a number, but let’s say they’d get $5 million to disperse to locals to do better flood protection, prevention, preparedness. FEMA can’t tell the state what to do, which in turn can’t tell locals what to do. There will be inefficiencies since everyone’s scrambling to get the money out.

Dylan Matthews: Any final comments?

Barry Scanlon:
There’s a time bomb going on with the Disaster Relief Fund. Historically, the American people, regardless of party, have stood behind Americans who’ve had to deal with significant events. And this time [Sandy] they made them wait 90 days. You used to say, ‘Oh, it’s not that big a deal, they’ll pass a supplemental. That’s how it works.’ That trust seems to have been broken. Where they go from here is anybody’s guess.
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Old 02-22-2013, 01:17 PM   #285
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To echo something I posted yesterday about citizens not being terribly concerned about the sequester, neither are businesses.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b1bc2...#axzz2LbHHeUYD

US businesses sanguine about sequestration
By James Politi in Washington
February 21, 2013 11:37 pm

US business groups and chief executives are lobbying less aggressively to avert the looming budget sequestration than they have during past fiscal stand-offs, judging the impact on the economy and financial markets to be less severe.

John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable, which represents America’s largest companies, said the automatic spending cuts would do minimal harm, compared with the large tax hikes and possible default on US debt threatened during other big budgetary crises of the past two years.

“[In those instances] there was great concern that it was going to damage the US credit rating or that there would be chaos in the financial markets – that’s clearly not the case with sequestration,” Mr Engler told the Financial Times, adding: “I think it’s considered de minimus by most people,” he added.

Economists have estimated that the sequestration cuts – worth $85bn for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in September, and $1.2tn over a decade – could cut US growth by 0.3 to 0.6 percentage points – and keep the unemployment rate close to 8 per cent.

Mr Engler’s comments are in stark contrast to the heated rhetoric and dire warnings about the cuts from the White House, both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, some government agencies, and other outside groups. Both leading US political parties say they want to avoid the across-the-board cuts, but cannot agree on ways to delay or replace them.

Lately they have mostly resorted to blaming each other for the impasse, though President Barack Obama did place calls to John Boehner, the Republican speaker in the House of Representatives, and Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, on Thursday. Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said they had “good conversations”.

Economists have been more measured. “The macroeconomic impact of the sequestration is not catastrophic,” said economists at Macroeconomic Advisers in a note. “Nevertheless, the indiscriminate fiscal restraint would come on the heels of tax increases in the first quarter that total nearly $200bn, with the economy still struggling to overcome the legacy of the great recession,” they added.

During the debt ceiling crisis of August 2011, and the fiscal cliff stalemate of December 2012, business groups and individual CEOs embarked on big lobbying pushes to plead for Congress and the White House to reach eleventh-hour agreements – including letters to lawmakers, public interviews and meetings in Washington. But that urgency has waned in advance of the sequestration, with the exception of defence groups and some other big contractors who would be adversely affected by the sharp cuts to Pentagon spending.

“If this were the debt ceiling you’d see a lot of letters,” Mr Engler said. He said attention was turning to the March 27 deadline when funding for the government expires, threatening a partial shutdown of federal operations in the absence of a new budget law. The hope in Washington is that this would force a fix to sequestration, though it is unclear whether it will be sufficient to yield political compromise.

“I think a lot of people are less nervous about the sequestration than they would be about a government shutdown or not handling the debt limits” says Tom O’Donnell, a former Democratic congressional aide at the Gephardt Group, a lobbying firm. “Of the three cliffs – if you will – I think this is the least problematic.”

Mr Engler said estimates of the effect on the economy were only “guesses” and US companies had “different approaches and thoughts about how to grapple with this”, depending on their industry. He contrasted the perspectives of healthcare and defence groups.

Under sequestration, Medicare, the US government health plan for the elderly, would be hit by cuts capped at 2 per cent, hitting providers to some extent, but not a huge degree. “You’ve got some in sectors where there are no cuts or limited to 2 per cent, like Medicare – and so they’re saying ‘geez that’s better than some kind of wide open debate where we might get cut more than that’.”

Oil companies may also prefer sequestration cuts to Democratic alternatives that would scrap some of their tax breaks. But Mr Engler said those groups who work with the Pentagon were much more worried: “If you’re in the defence sector you say ‘wait a minute that’s not so good for us’.”

Earlier this month, David Cote, the chief executive of Honeywell and a leading corporate spokesman on US fiscal policy, appeared resigned to the fact that sequestration would have to happen. “You could argue that the reduction would make more sense if we did it thoughtfully and spent a lot of time on it. I’m not sure that’s a real option, though. The options seem to be let it happen or take it away,” Mr Cote said. “So, yeah, there’s some impact but at some point we have to start working to get our debt under control and if this is the only rational step they could seem to take to do it, then they ought to do it.”

In terms of putting pressure on Congress to reach a deal, the BRT – and Mr Cote – played a pivotal role in trying to cajole Republicans into accepting the need for higher tax rates during the December fiscal cliff stand-off. But Mr Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan, suggested he was no longer expecting his party to cave in on taxes. “My view is they got the revenue at the end of last year,” he said.

In a statement to the FT, the US Chamber of Commerce, the other big business lobbying group in Washington, said it “remains vocal” on sequestration. “ We have long stated that the sequester is bad public policy and should be replaced with prioritised spending cuts,” a spokeswoman said, adding : “Additionally, we have continued to adamantly oppose tax hikes to replace spending cuts, and we will continue that message when the Senate returns next week.”
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