Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sick of Senseless Sequester Double-Speak

This week, congress is enjoying a 10-day vacation over the Presidents' Day holiday. No bills are being filed. No debates or committee meetings are taking place. Some members of congress are taking the opportunity to engage their constituents in town hall meetings and the like. Others are publishing sound-bytes and quips to the media. However, nothing official is being done in a legislative setting.

Meanwhile, Obama is taking breaks from playing golf with Tiger Woods and grab-ass with large campaign donors and socialist labor union leaders to inspire unrest among the useful idiots. He is attempting to lay blame on the vacationing congress, particularly the conservative-dominated House of Representatives, for the sequester budget cuts. The irony is that the cuts were his suggestion in the first place.

The finger-pointing towards conservatives in the House are quickly dispelled. Obama attempted to place blame on Boehner and conservatives such as Paul Ryan. However, a book by Bob Woodward entitled The Price of Politics contains transcriptions of White House meetings in which Obama planned the sequestration and finger-pointing ahead of time. The Washington Post has collected some of the more pertinent excerpts.

Obama attempts to make it seem as though the sequestration didn't have bipartisan support:

"Unfortunately, Congress didn’t compromise.  They haven’t come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we’ve got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday."

There was compromise. If there wasn't, the bill wouldn't have passed. the compromise was to give socialists the cuts in defense spending in return for cuts in domestic entitlement spending and spending on bloated executive branch bureaucracies. Obama proposed it. He signed it. It should lead you to ask where the lack of compromise and bipartisan support could have existed?

Obama supported the sequestration cuts so that he could fight against them later, garner public support against them, then have an excuse to back his version of "tax reform". Obama's version of "tax reform" equates to raising taxes on anybody who works and earns a paycheck or invests and earns dividends/interest. That includes anybody investing in a 401K retirement plan or other pension program to supplement Social Security.

Anybody who opposes the sequestration budget cuts needs to point their fingers at everybody who supported the bill when it was first passed. It had bipartisan support. It passed both houses of the legislature. Obama happily signed the bill into law, since it was his idea in the first place. Now he tried to blame everybody for giving him what he demanded.

Obama is falsely claiming that the sequestration cuts affect local fire and police departments. That is not true. By the 10th Amendment, those are local responsibilities, not federal. By Article 1 Sections 8 & 9, federal congress has no authority to levy taxes or spend federal funds on those local programs. The federal funds for fire fighting are specific to national forests and national parks. When those fires threaten incorporated municipalities, their local fire departments have jurisdiction and primary responsibility. Those local agencies are funded by municipal taxes such as sales taxes and property taxes, not federal funds. The sequestration cuts have no bearing on them.

"Are you willing to see a bunch of first responders lose their job because you want to protect some special interest tax loophole?  Are you willing to have teachers laid off, or kids not have access to Head Start, or deeper cuts in student loan programs just because you want to protect a special tax interest loophole that the vast majority of Americans don't benefit from? That's the choice.  That's the question."
Here, Obama also attempts to push the false idea that the federal government has anything to do with local education programs. He's attempting to federalize day care (also known as "pre-K", though anybody who studied German knows that "kindergarten" means day care, not school). That is an unconstitutional violation of the 10th Amendment as well as Article 1 Sections 8 & 9. Congress has no authority to pass laws infringing upon local responsibilities and authorities. The executive branch has no authority to establish regulations on things that the congress cannot legislate.

Then Obama had this to say:

"So these cuts are not smart.  They are not fair.  They will hurt our economy.  They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls.  This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs.  The unemployment rate might tick up again."

So he is attempting to blame the poor economy and an increase in unemployment on the sequestration. That is partially true in that government workers in the bloated bureaucracy may face furloughs, pay cuts, or termination. Those will not affect the U3 or U6 unemployment rates significantly, though. What will affect them are the increases in payroll taxes. What will affect them is a rise in federally mandated minimum wage to $9 an hour. What will affect them (and has already) are provisions in the PPACA that will drastically increase the costs of human capital (labor) that will lead to layoffs and reductions in hours to less than 30 per week so employers can afford to keep employees and production. However, Obama is blaming this pending disaster on sequestration cuts.

Among the sequestration cuts will come furloughs and layoffs of Department of Defense civilians. Honestly, having spent 24 years in the military, that is not a bad thing. I can cite several examples of DoD and DA civilians' inefficiency. They get paid more than military members working the same jobs at equivalent pay grades. The highly motivated and well-trained military members can do the job better and cheaper. The civilians were needed when we had both wars in full swing. Now that Obama has "ended" OIF and greatly reduced our military presence in Iraq, the military has the manpower to resume performing the functions those civilians were hired to relieve them of temporarily.

The Department of Defense has issued this statement to DoD, DA, DN, and DAF civilian employees:

February 20, 2013

Message to the Department from Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta on the Preparations for Potential Sequestration on March 1 and Furlough Notifications

            “To All Department of Defense Personnel:
            “For more than a year and a half, the president, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I have repeatedly voiced our deep concerns over the half a trillion dollars in automatic across-the-board cuts that would be imposed under sequestration and the severe damage that would do both to this department and to our national defense. 
            “The administration continues to work with Congress to reach agreement on a balanced deficit reduction plan to avoid these cuts.  Meanwhile, because another trigger for sequestration is approaching on March 1, the department’s leadership has begun extensive planning on how to implement the required spending reductions.  Those cuts will be magnified because the department has been forced to operate under a six-month continuing resolution that has already compelled us to take steps to reduce spending. 
            “In the event of sequestration we will do everything we can to be able to continue to perform our core mission of providing for the security of the United States, but there is no mistaking that the rigid nature of the cuts forced upon this department, and their scale, will result in a serious erosion of readiness across the force. 
            “I have also been deeply concerned about the potential direct impact of sequestration on you and your families.  We are doing everything possible to limit the worst effects on DoD personnel -- but I regret that our flexibility within the law is extremely limited.  The president has used his legal authority to exempt military personnel funding from sequestration, but we have no legal authority to exempt civilian personnel funding from reductions.  As a result, should sequestration occur and continue for a substantial period, DoD will be forced to place the vast majority of its civilian workforce on administrative furlough.
            “Today, I notified Congress that furloughs could occur under sequestration.  I can assure you that, if we have to implement furloughs, all affected employees will be provided at least 30 days’ notice prior to executing a furlough and your benefits will be protected to the maximum extent possible.  We also will work to ensure that furloughs are executed in a consistent and appropriate manner, and we will also continue to engage in discussions with employee unions as appropriate. 
            “Working with your component heads and supervisors, the department’s leaders will continue to keep you informed.  As we deal with these difficult issues, I want to thank you for your patience, your hard work, and your continued dedication to our mission of protecting the country. 
            “Our most important asset at the department is our world-class personnel.  You are fighting every day to keep our country strong and secure, and rest assured that the leaders of this department will continue to fight with you and for you.”

The CATO Institute has this study concerning cuts to DoD civilians that debunks many of the socialists' false claims. 

Obama also used inflammatory hyperbolic pejoratives in his false claim that "nobody should want these cuts". In reality, any American with a working brain and common sense should be cheering the sequestration cuts.

Some claim that the cuts are not real cuts but just reductions in how much spending will increase. The plan does contain reduced increases in the future. However, the immediate cuts are real cuts.  Non-partisan and frustratingly objective political reporter Jamie Dupree explains the truth. The key fact to consider is that the Fiscal Year 2013 federal budget will be cut from $1.047 trillion to $974 billion, a decrease of $73 billion. That is an actual cut, not just a lowered increase in spending. (That is a lot of brown-bagging instead of Subway and Starbucks!).

It still makes sense that the sequestration should just go into effect. The legislators who fight it do so because they want to pick and choose some other legislator's pet projects to cut. Cut them all. Defense budget cuts are good as long as they do not impact military pay, benefits, training funds, maintenance funds, equipment funds, and operational funds. The defense cuts are not the wisest idea. However, our military can manage just like they did during Carter's cuts. Medicare, Social Security, Military Retiree Pensions, and Veterans' benefits need to be protected. However, the VA can stand a little cutting. It may keep them from wasting tax payer dollars on strippers and massages for bureaucrats and force them to use the funds to actually assist veterans.

So, Obama, you are dead wrong. Anybody with a brain should support these cuts. Then again, Obama is not known for attempting to garner support from intelligent people. He caters to the lazy and the ignorant.