Friday, February 22, 2013


President pushes for sequestration resolution

Picture Legend
1. Some building in D.C.
2. Paul Krugman
3. Chris Good  

   As I've mentioned before I have Facebook friends I've never met who live in the Eastern part of the country, a couple from the South. Not surprisingly our political views often differ, and sometimes when they post comments that are so patently false and outrageous I get into it with them, battling with facts rather than what I would like the world to be like as they do, and we go back and forth, and nothing ever comes of it. I shouldn't do this. I know I'll never change their world view from which they must take a great deal of comfort. However, I never start these things (I do repost items of a political nature that I agree with, and I shouldn't even do that), and if I find their comments so disturbing I feel a need to challenge them.
   I'm getting better at ignoring them though, I really am.
   However I found one comment from a friend yesterday that I responded to. I apparently share 8 mutual friends with this person, including my dear sister.
   I probably did this because he was commenting on the up coming sequestration federal budget cuts that are due to go into effect a week from now, with which this post is concerned with.
   This is what he wrote verbatim:
can you ecplain to me why obama is blaming the republicans, for the sequestration coming next week when it was the white houses idea,last year,gdp is at 0.1%,unemployment is up,and everyone knows where gas prices are at and going up,and this president is still pointing his finger,and of corse the main strean media,still has no hard line questions for this guy,with obama its always someone elses fault,a good leader takes responsabilty,this man has never taken any,then why is his approval rate so high
   I have no idea what he's talking about for the country's GDP which is not counted as a percentage and is currently stands at 15.09 trillion dollars and growing. Unemployment is at 7.8% and heading downward, not up, and gas prices are high, but the President has no control over that, yet I imagine his comment is trying to blame Obama for this.
   This was my reply to him:
I guess it's because the President can't implement policies, only Congress can. Oh yeah, and all of the House Republicans voted for it, and now say it's a bad thing, but won't stop it from occuring when it's completely in their power to do so. That may be the reason
   And low and behold, even though these comments appear on his Timeline, I received no reply. None whatsoever. This is the first time this has ever happened.
   Now we've had these battles before and remained friends, and I do understand that people are entitled to their own opinions, but as Ambassador Daniel Moynihan has stated, not their own facts.
   Well lets take a look at the facts of sequestration, as well as I can present them.
   What is sequestration? Funny you should ask.
   The word sequestration seems to mean a lot of things.
   Since the time of Rome the word meant the act of removing, separating, or seizing anything from the possession of its owner under process of law for the benefit of creditors or the state, which sucks if your the owner, and seems completely bent toward the benefit of the creditor or state... kind of like the law of eminent domain, where the state can just seize your property anytime it wants (that actually happened to me once, but that's a whole other story).
   There's jury sequestration, which is the isolation of a jury to avoid accidental or deliberate tainting, and which is similar to protective sequestration, which refers to isolating, by force, a section of people to protect them from an epidemic (or the public being protected from them (see the fine film "Outbreak," staring Dustin Hoffman)).
   In science there is carbon sequestration which is the process of the capture and long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which we should be doing a heck of a lot more these days to stop global warming. Just suck up all of that CO2 and shoot it over to Texas where it belongs.
   There is a Canadian heavy metal band called Sequester.
   There's also bile acid sequestrants, pulmonary sequestration, and pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration, which is something bugs do.
   And of course the 4th or 5th century, Roman geographer, Vibius Sequester.
   But we're not talking about any of those, and I don't even know why I mentioned them.
   Silly me.
   What we are talking about is budget sequestration, which, in short, refers to a U.S. legal procedure in which automatic spending cuts are triggered, specifically in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
   Okay, this is how we got to where we are today:
   As you may remember dear readers, after the rise of the Tea Baggers  as a political power, they won a significant amount of seats in the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term elections and of course started their anti-government campaign almost immediately... well, let me rephrase that... they immediately started their anti-government campaign. In August of 2011 a vote was needed to raise the governments debt ceiling so the government could continue to pay the debts  it already owed, debts incurred by Congress itself, and a vote that had automatically been passed every time it had come up. The Tea Baggers didn't want to do this. They were perfectly willing to let the government go into default for the first time in our nation's history.
   Here, I'll let Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman put it in his usual succinct manner:
   "Republicans engaged in unprecedented hostage-taking, threatening to push America into default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless President Obama agreed to a grand bargain on their terms. Mr. Obama, alas, didn’t stand firm; instead, he tried to buy time. And, somehow, both sides decided that the way to buy time was to create a fiscal doomsday machine that would inflict gratuitous damage on the nation through spending cuts unless a grand bargain was reached. Sure enough, there is no bargain, and the doomsday machine will go off at the end of next week."
   What exactly will happen if no deal is reached by next Friday and the sequestration does go into effect? Here's a short list compiled by Chris Good of ABC News:
1. Air Travel Disruption; After a $600 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding cut, furloughs would mean fewer air-traffic controllers and fewer flights.
2. Longer Security Lines at Airports; Even the Travel Security Administration (TSA) is not exempt from sequestration, and fewer workers would mean longer lines.
3. Slower Extreme-Weather Forecasts; Government weathermen would feel the sequester, too.
4. Greater Risk of Wildfires; Cuts to the Department of Agriculture would mean less wildfire prevention and greater risk, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warned: "Increased risk to communities from wildfires with as much as 200,000 fewer acres treated for hazardous fuels" were among the consequences he listed in his letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
5. Pest-Infested Crops; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote that the sequester would mean "a reduction in assistance to States for pest and disease prevention, surveillance, and response, potentially leading to more extensive outbreaks and economic losses to farmers and ranchers."
6. Nationwide Meat and Poultry Shortage; After furloughs to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, meat and poultry plants will have to shut down, as no one will be around to inspect their products.
7. Prison Lockdowns; A furlough of nearly 36,700 Bureau of Prisons staff for an average of 12 days could "endanger the safety of staff and over 218,00 inmates," Attorney General Eric Holder wrote.
8. Slower Gun Background Checks.
9. Fewer FBI Agents; FBI would furlough personnel for up to 14 days, Attorney General Eric Holder stated. 
10. Immigration Backlog; Unable to hire immigration judges, the federal government would see immigration applications pile up.
11. Longer Waits for Passports and Foreign Visas.
12. Neglect for Mentally Ill, Homeless, and Substance Addicted; Cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services would mean fewer services for vulnerable parts of the population.
13. 125,000 Would Be at Risk of Homelessness; Housing vouchers, shelter programs, and rural rent assistance are also on the chopping block.
14. 600,000 Women and Children Thrown Off WIC.
15. 424,000 Fewer AIDS Tests, 7,400 Fewer Patients Could Get HIV Medications.
16. No Rent Assistance for 7,300 AIDS Patients.
17. 807,000 Fewer Hospital Visits for Native Americans, Hospital Closures.
18. No Child Care for 30,000 Kids, No Head Start for 70,000.
19. Longer Waits for Disability Payments.
20. $725 Million in Cuts for Low-Income and Special-Needs Students.
21. Cuts to Schools on Indian Reservations.
22. Higher Risk of Terrorism; The FBI's ability to catch terrorists and stop plots will be mitigated, according to director Robert Mueller. The cuts include personnel furloughs and stalled investigations."   
23. Classified Information Vulnerable to Foreign Spies; Counterintelligence will also face cuts, raising the risk that foreign spies will gain access to classified national-security information.
24. An Even More Porous Border; Border Patrol will face cuts, Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano wrote to the committee: "U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would not be able to maintain current staffing levels of Border Patrol Agents and CBP Officers as mandated by Congress."
25. Untended Nukes; Sequestration means less security at U.S. nuclear facilities.
26. U.S. Less Prepared for a 'WMD Incident' FBI Director Robert Mueller also warned that the FBI wouldn't be able to respond as quickly to a "WMD incident."
27. 1/3 Cutback in Pacific Naval Presence.
28. Reduced Army Readiness.
29. 46,000 Defense Jobs Could Be Lost, and the Pentagon would have to cut the pay for 800,000 employees by 20%
30. $1 Billion Cut from Disaster Relief
   And it goes on and on. Here's a link to Chris's story:
   Thanks Chris for allowing me to... borrow some of your fine work.
   Even Republicans as a whole disagree with what the House, led by Rep. John Boehner is doing. Only 19% of all Republicans believe sequestration is a good thing.
   But the House Republicans, pressured by the Tea Bagger contingent, seems to be stuck on stupid. They just lost the general election, then came out saying their Party needed to change it's ways to attract more of the populace, with the goal of winning elections in the future, and they continue to do dumb crap like this! It's totally amazing really. If their policies weren't so detrimental to the country it would be funny. As a matter of fact I believe that any American who would do this to their country and had the power to stop it, are simply traitorous. These people aren't Americans. They don't care about America or it's people. They're ideologues and insane. They need to go to the Funny Farm, draw nice pictures, listen to happy talk, and take lots of Olanzapine.
   So what does Krugman say we should do? Well lets ask:
   "The right policy would be to forget about the whole thing. America doesn’t face a deficit crisis, nor will it face such a crisis anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have a weak economy that is recovering far too slowly from the recession that began in 2007. And, as Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, recently emphasized, one main reason for the sluggish recovery is that government spending has been far weaker in this business cycle than in the past. We should be spending more, not less, until we’re close to full employment; the sequester is exactly what the doctor didn’t order."
   I couldn't agree more.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich's Take

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