February 28, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 45

The Sequester: Another end-of-the-world tall tale

In our opinion

OK, we survived the Mayan apocalypse Dec. 21 and not long after were steered away at the last minute from the fiscal cliff

Now we’re led to believe if we listen to President Obama that come March 1 there’s yet another end-of-the-world as we know it crisis awaiting us.

He speaks daily now of massive dissection of defense; crippling cuts to cops; trimming teachers and so on, and so on and so on. Pick a federal program and it will be a mere shadow of its former self. The country will simply fall apart, oh my!

All over losing a few pennies – less than 3-cents – on each dollar in the federal budget.

But before going too far let’s put that 2013 fiscal year budget of $3.7 trillion into some numbers we can get our minds – and calculators – to understand: $3.7 trillion equals $3,700 billion. Divide that into 85 and it equals 2.29 percent.

Mr. Obama would like to have everyone think sequestration means we’re about to get hit by the giant asteroid that will pass some 17,000 miles from Earth. Indeed, getting hit by the 150-foot wide piece of space rock traveling 5 miles per second could be disastrous.

In reality, sequestration is more akin to that meteorite that recently flashed across Russia. Sure, when it entered the atmosphere the explosion caused damage and injuries but it was hardly cataclysmic.

The president and his obedient media continue the narrative of complete asteroid-like devastation, touting numbers so vast that they go over the heads of most average Americans, let alone the newly coined “low information” crowd.

In a nutshell sequestration was the outgrowth of the bipartisan Super Committee. Remember them, they were members of Congress entrusted in the final half of 2011 to find across-the-board cuts of some $900 billion in federal spending over the next 10 years?

True to form as if in their regular jobs on Capitol Hill, they accomplished nothing.

While Obama constantly demagogues and tries to push the blame for whatever happens Friday on Republicans – and wanting to fix it with yet more taxes on the so-called rich – everyone needs reminding that it was the president who came up with the idea of sequestration in the first place. It was a measure that would surely force the Super Committee to do their job and find ways to make cuts.

But if trimming 3-cents on the dollar is too much to ask of government, what about them looking in the mirror?

The Government Accounting Office identified an estimated $100 billion yearly of waste, fraud and abuse in its 2011 report. Since rarely if ever does government spending decrease, one can only imagine what the 2013 report will tell us. An early indicator might be a GAO report saying Medicare wastes an estimated $44 billion out of a budget of $555 billion – an amazing 9-percent.

That 2011 report identified 34 areas fraught with fraud and waste and contribute mightily to the $100 billion that goes up in smoke each year.

Those include:

• Duplicative contracting agencies

• Conflicting federal vehicle energy goals

• Overlapping arms control bureaus

• Federal transportation programs that lack accountability

• Duplication in job training programs

And that’s just five.

The White House itself says there are many ways to cut such abuses, and the president, on any number of occasions, said his administration would champion such reform. There are in fact numerous press releases addressing the issue. But there’s been little if any of the promised action.

Perhaps Mr. Obama’s been too busy making up numbers, stories, diversions and boogie-men?

As this new crisis moves towards its supposed debt doomsday, it’s time for Republicans to once and for all finally call the president’s bluff.

Let’s see who’s telling the truth here when it comes to the next end-of-the-world scenario?

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