When President Obama, addressed The Business Council in Washington on Wednesday night, he characterized the impending sequester cuts as more of a “tumble downward” than a “cliff.”
Now that he and Congress have failed to reach any compromise to avert the sequester, President Obama still refuses to engage in doom-saying — but he does have an opinion on the matter. “This is not the apocalypse,” he told reporters. “It’s just dumb.” The sequester will result in nearly $85 billion in program cuts over the next fiscal year, amounting to a total of $1.1 trillion over the next decade. Federal financial aid programs stand to lose more than $4 billion.
In trying to characterize the budget cuts as more uncomfortable than disastrous, President Obama said that the across the board cuts, which kick in automatically after 23:59 on March 1, will not have an immediate impact on businesses except for those directly tied to the Defense Department. The President, however, did not hesitate to lay blame for the sequester firmly on the GOP’s shoulders, saying that the sequester is “happening because of a choice Republicans in Congress have made.”
I am by no means a Republican apologist — nor really an apologist for any group, except perhaps Journey (“Don’t Stop Believin’” is just SO darn catchy) — but it seems like President Obama doesn’t seem to remember signing the Budget Control Act of 2011 into law. Nor does he seem to remember that it was the desperation of an election year that brought the sideshow into the Big Top.
To recap, the so-called Congressional “super” committee on deficit reduction, was formed in the fall of 2011, in desperate response to a burgeoning deficit and an impending election. The notion was that by putting some sort of inevitable fail safe in the bill, Congress would be forced to compromise. Well, let’s just say that the bone-headedness of politicians simply cannot be over-estimated.
The committee members were tasked with finding $1.2 trillion dollars in budget savings, to be spread out over 10 years, by midnight on November 23. Instead, they went home in time for Thanksgiving 2011, announcing that the bipartisan committee could not reach any agreement on how the deficit could be shaved. Under the Budget Control Act, which created the committee, the group’s failure to achieve any agreement automatically triggered the sweeping cuts to government agencies and programs during the 2013 fiscal year.
The committee’s wheel spinning waste of time created a diversion while Congress failed to act in any way that might have been seen as jeopardizing members’ own, or their parties’ chances, in the then-upcoming election year. Now that their wide fannies are comfortably ensconced in their overstuffed, taxpayer purchased chairs, Congress can continue to sit on their hands while college students and their parents spend the next year or two (or four or 30) paying for their elected representatives’ lack of backbone. Okay, so I had an opinion. This is a blog, after all.