Guy W. Farmer: Government should lose sequestration scare tactics, get busy trimming waste
March 10, 2013
I was sitting in my survival bunker last weekend waiting for the end of the world, but then the March 1 federal budget “sequestration” deadline came and went, and nothing happened. It proved to be just another phony crisis manufactured in Washington, D.C., where life is good for bureaucrats and consultants who live off taxpayer dollars.Although President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and their fellow Democrats told us that the world would end if the so-called sequester took effect March 1, their predictions of dire consequences turned out to be Chicken Little-type scare tactics. The sky didn’t fall, the oceans didn’t rise and the earth continued to turn on its axis as the stock market rose to all-time highs last week. So what really happened?“The worst-case scenario for us is that the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens,” a leading anti-budget-cuts lobbyist told syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer last month. That’s exactly what happened, so Obama, Reid & Co. had to tone down the apocalyptic rhetoric.Krauthammer noted that the president had predicted that the federal government would be severely affected if sequestration went into effect — plane travel would be jeopardized, naval carrier groups would be beached and thousands of teachers would be furloughed. None of that happened.“Are they threatening to pare back consultants, conferences, travel (like the Obama family’s $3 million Hawaii vacations) and other nonessential fluff?” Krauthammer, a columnist for The Washington Post, asked prior to the March 1 deadline. “Hardly. It shall be air traffic control, meat inspections and weather forecasting.” And so it was, except that those affected by the cuts hardly noticed. I have a friend who is a senior air traffic controller in Southern California; he went to work as usual last week.Of course, Obama administration officials didn’t miss the opportunity to score a few political points off of the Great Sequestration Crisis as they released thousands of criminal aliens from the nation’s jails and prisons. The idea was to endear themselves to Hispanic voters, but how many self-respecting Hispanic Americans would fall for such a transparent play for votes?Now we’re told that the federal government will be forced to close down at the end of the month if the president and congressional leaders can’t reach agreement on tax increases (which Democrats favor) and spending cuts (which Republicans advocate). Let’s see where cuts might be made. A 2011 GAO report identified 44 overlapping federal job training programs, 18 for nutrition assistance, 82 on teacher training and quality, and more than 20 programs for the homeless. Total annual cost: $100 billion to $200 billion, about two to five times the entire domestic sequester. So let the budget cutting begin.How about soaking “the rich” (whoever they are), as the president frequently proposes? Well, as it turns out, the top 1 percent of federal taxpayers already pay 30 percent of federal taxes and the top 20 percent pay more than 70 percent, while the bottom 20 percent pay almost nothing. Is that fair? I don’t think so. Instead of increasing taxes, Congress should slash federal spending, including so-called entitlement programs, because our bloated government simply can’t continue to spend way more money than it collects from taxpayers. Enough already!• Guy W. Farmer is the Nevada Appeal’s senior political columnist.