Stupid Kabuki Theater

2.8%.   This figure is what we keep coming back to.  A 2.8% cut to the FY13 Federal Budget.  As in sequester.

Yes, we all understand now that the sequester doesn’t allow many federal agencies the discretion to cut where it makes the most sense.  Yes, it’s stupid dysfunctional policy designed to force some kind of eventual compromise.

But hold on a second…  The House sent up a bill that would give the President discretion to enforce those 2.8% in cuts.  Cut where you need to, just cut. He didn’t like that, though, because that puts the impetus for this thing on him.

The President’s proposal included another tax increase on the wealthy and the elimination of some tax loopholes.  The classic moving of the goal posts.  No-go for Republicans – they can’t abide another tax increase.  Meanwhile, no one can seem to agree on the amount of chaos and disaster the sequester cuts will truly cause.  Will 2.8% in cuts truly wreck things?  Even if applied stupidly?

Huh.  If you’re in the ever-dwindling segment of working Americans who actually pay taxes, you no doubt noticed that the restored payroll tax took about 2% of your takehome.  Pick up a newspaper anywhere in the country and you’ll see stories of teachers, laborers, cops – all agreeing to pay freezes, etc.  With the rising cost of gas and healthcare, those folks are absorbing 2-3% in pay reductions at the very least.  Somehow, we survive.

But the government can’t manage 2.8%.

Ask about any Illinois resident how much their local school district had to cut this year due to decades of mismanagement by our deadbeat state government.  I know what our school had to cut, and it’s a lot more than 2.8%.

We’ve been watching this whole thing very closely – for the sheer political theater and because it does directly affect us in Beemsville.  The whole thing would be funny if it weren’t so stupid.  We submit the following:

  1. Most Americans believe the government is too big and needs to be cut.  2.8% ain’t much in the grand scheme.
  2. Most Americans are in favor of the kind of tax reform that eliminates loopholes and simplifies things, even if we don’t agree that the rich need to be taxed more.

Point 1 is anathema to the President.  He’s turning out to be just what his detractors have accused him of – an old school big government liberal masquerading as a progressive.  To him the government is the great arbiter of fairness; he can’t cut here because that would undermine his whole philosophy  Point 2 is a big problem for Republicans, because of their deep obligations to big, old money and their own damaged political psyches.

So both sides appear to have accepted the sequester because their political calculus says it will hurt the other guys worse.  Compromise for the greater good isn’t an option.  You want to talk about dysfunction…

The 2.8% and whatever interruption to service and national security this entails should be much less a concern than what this whole situation says about leadership and reason (or lack thereof) in Washington D.C.  Next up: the countdown to the expiration of the continuing resolution (which funds the government) at the end of the month.  We don’t know what will happen, but we’re betting on stupid.

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