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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Sequester questions remain unanswered


A proverbial gun is set to go off; one that will cause chaos and mayhem all over the U.S. Or, it may actually only be a squirt gun that gets us all a little wet. When it comes to the upcoming sequester, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what is really going to happen.

The “sequester” is a widespread set of cuts in funding for many federally backed programs, set to kick in on March 1. The list of targets includes, but is not limited to, education, law enforcement, public safety, airport security and the military.

Personally, while I am sure any pay cuts and lay offs that result will hurt individuals, the country, as a whole, will probably not suffer much from these cuts.

Both parties have their opinions on the matter, but the behavior of our elected officials makes it appear as if neither party really seems that worried.

Democrats act like this will be the end of the world, trying to, as the Washington Post put it, “paint pictures” of travel delays and lay-offs for cops, teachers and fire fighters, among other terrible outcomes. The only problem is that their actions discredit their words. They are still relaxed enough to take a President’s Day vacation less than two weeks before the March 1 deadline.

If they are so worried about cuts, then why are federal employees, including Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, getting a pay raise effective March 27, as reported in the Huffington Post. It almost seems as if democrats want these cuts to devastate us, or at least terrify us, but to what end? Do they think it will make us more willing to pay higher taxes?

Republicans, on the other hand, seem quite certain that the sequester will not be that bad. They give off the impression that, should the effects be minimal, that the long-term reduction in the overall size of the federal government would be a step in a positive direction.

Additionally, lobby groups, like the American Hospital Association and the defense industry, are only focused on their own agenda, fighting the parts of the sequester that affect them. No one seems to be truly fighting the sequestering as a whole.

My question on the matter is, with all the government waste and excessive pay, bonuses and benefits that politicians and other high-ranking government officials get, are education and public safety the places cuts need to come from?

Wouldn’t the pay of high-ranking government officials be a better place to start cutting? If you consider the fact that a senator makes around four times that of the average American, it seems like a decent place to cut the fat. Furthermore, as reported in an article by the New York Times, the average net worth of members of the senate is around $14 million, and for members of the house, it is around $4.6 million. Do you think these people really need to make $174,000 a year while the average citizen makes an average of $43,000?

So the question remains: is this sequester really going to be that bad, or is it just some scare tactics from a political structure that doesn’t want to do its job or politicians that don’t want to lose their conveniences? Is it really going to hurt Americans, or are politicians just so certain that it won’t affect them that they just don’t actually care?

I think that the sequester could really hurt certain individual citizens, but, as for how the policy on its own will affect the country, I don’t think it will be that bad. With that being said, if the backlash from the sequester hits the economy too close to the backlash of other Obama policies, such as the healthcare hour cutbacks and the raising of minimum wage, then we may see the catastrophe that Obama and other Democrats are screaming about.


  1. My two cents

    I’m a recent grad and currently work for the government. As a matter of fact, I just received my furlough notice today. To begin, I can promise you that not ALL government workers are overpaid, and in fact some are underpaid. Be very careful when painting with such a broad brush; civil servants come in various shapes and sizes, and many are not living in lush condos/houses in NoVA. Many live paycheck to paycheck, along with the rest of the middle class workers in America. As far as the salaries of cabinet officials, federal judges, and other mentioned in your chart, these people have incredible amounts of education and work experience in their area, and could easily be making twice or three times as much in a consulting role outside of government. However, they sacrifice those salaries to work in civil service and hopefully make a difference (or at least that’s why I did). When anyone talks about cutting federal salaries, I always remind them that you get what you pay for.

    Now to address your larger question of why the sequester isn’t causing a ruckus, only the politicians know for sure. My guess is, however, that they aren’t worried because there is a larger issue at play, which is the expiration of the continuing resolution funding the government until March 27, 2013. At some point before this date, Congress and the White House will need to pass and sign a new CR to fund the government, otherwise it will shut down. Workers will immediately be furloughed indefinitely, medicare and social security payments delayed, military personnel will work without pay, etc. Depending on the way it is written, a new CR passed could mitigate the effects of sequestration by diverting the budget cuts to other areas.

    The effects of the sequester will likely be indirect. The economies of the DC metro area will be heavily impacted if furloughs and contract cuts take place. However, the problem nationwide is the uncertainty caused by Congress’s inability to make permanent, lasting decisions on the nations finances (exemplified by the fact that we haven’t had a budget in over 4 years). The uncertainty leads to corporations withholding cash in bank accounts, instead of investing in new hires and R&D. Once Washington is fixed (more stable), then I believe we can expect to see the economy truly begin to recover.

  2. Ellie

    I’d have to agree with the previous comment. Do we have a major deficit problem and do we need to reevaluate the way in which we use federal funds? Absolutely. But major cuts in the areas the sequester would require are not the solution, and, not just Democrats as put in the article, but many economists believe that such severe cuts could send us into a deeper recession. Would I go as far to say that? Maybe not, but I don’t think this is a wise way of going about our fiscal issues.

    What is most concerning is the fact that the sequester was in fact established to basically force congress to come up with a better solution. The idea was “oh this is so bad they HAVE to work together to come up with SOMETHING!” (My average-joe version, at least). However, our dangerously partisan politics has devolved into less of a working for the people into more of a petty battle on party lines. America is supposed to be the example of democracy, but how many political crisis have we come to in just the last year? We are becoming a government of short term fixes and basically, democratic natural disasters. Can we successfully run a country when we face a new economic/governmental crisis every month? What’s most horrific about the sequester issue is less about the economic impact, (while I still worry very VERY much about the economic impact), but what it shows about the workings on Capitol Hill.

    Just some thoughts from a high school senior, take them as seriously as you wish.