block, bring to end, close off, disconnect, discontinue, halt, isolate, obstruct, suspend

27 Feb

A few words to describe the oft-mentioned ‘sequester’.  (As a challenge to myself, I will insert each of the words, once,  from the title instead of the s-word in this post in italics.)

I will admit that this block on federal spending is really confusing.  It is easy for more partisan critics to blame the other side that will bring to end some loved programs.  There are so many articles now on the close off that is about to potentially happen:

  • NPR‘s article “What’s the Sequestration? And How Did We Get Here?” gives a nice synopsis about the history and the effects of letting this close off happen.  Basically, the two sides (Democratic Senate & White House and the GOP House) couldn’t agree on a variety of revenue/tax and cuts/reductions in the budget (Democrats usually use the first term and the Republicans the second term to make their point).  Instead of doing what they usually did with the budget – a series of continuing resolutions with a final late budget approval that essentially did not do anything – they created this disconnect in the cycle to come up with something worse to stop their usual cycle.  Of course, Washington will likely do the worst thing and blame the other side.
  • AP’s article “Governors: Looming Cuts Threaten Economic Gains” covers the state side of the effects of the federal government to discontinue certain funds.  Basically, the state governors are telling their federally elected officials to do anything, because it’ll be worse for the states to go through with this halt than almost any other solution.  Of course, this being politics, someone will lose and therefore, will not budge.  This isolat[ion] of funds has a silver lining, those for limited federal spending like this drastic cut and those doves who want to dramatically reduce defense spending will get their wish.
  • Washington Post’s article “Air Force Chief: Sequester Might Ground Lawmakers”  writes that politicians will not be able to fly on military flights, thereby passing on those airport inconveniences that we mere constituents have to bear (i.e. security checks, business class accommodation, etc.).  Unfortunately, we will get even worse service from the nation’s airports.

Whatever you might think of this latest obstruction, you can’t possibly think this will be good – at least in the short-term.  There will be a lot of unforeseen consequences such as reduced municipal services, smaller paychecks, less COLA raises, as well as a host of other problems.  The DC politicians are suspending their lack of judgment for horrible governance.  As Saturday Night Live might say, “Are You Kidding Me?”

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Boris Shor, PhD

Assistant Professor, Dep't of Political Science, U. of Houston

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