I’m now as tired of the word “sequester” as I was of “fiscal cliff” several months ago, when that was the new buzzword. I say, let the sequester begin. It may not be the best or most intelligent way to go about much-needed deficit reduction, but it is what it is.
Twelve of Washington’s finest, a.k.a. the “super” committee, could not come to an agreement of how to cut $1.2-trillion over 10 years, and this, sequestration, is the” punishment.” It was thought to be so severe, so dreaded, that there was no way the gang of 12, six Republicans and six Democrats, would leave that room until there was an agreement.
But guess what? They gave up. They could not reach an agreement. They kicked it down the road again. But who cared at the time? It was November 2011, and the automatic cuts would not kick in for another 13 months. Plus, there were bigger fish to fry. There was an election on the horizon, then there was this “cliff.”
It didn’t matter. As part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, a.k.a. the great “cliff” diverter, sequestration was put off for another two months. That two-month delay is about up.
Now we are bombarded by the warnings that the sky is falling, that our lives will be ruined if the $85-billion in cuts under sequestration are allowed to go into effect. I say let it happen. For one, it is getting more difficult to believe the politicians and the talking heads as we jump from crisis to crisis and they tell us we must do X or Y will happen. I’ve stopped believing them. I believe that many other Americans have as well. We are yawning about sequestration. We’ve had enough.
Part of that is simple crisis fatigue. Part of it is based on the belief that $85-billion in cuts out of a $3.6-trillion budget is a drop in the bucket. Part of it may be some wishful thinking, too. I just don’t believe that the sky will begin falling on Friday, and fall harder as more of the cuts kick in. I just don’t buy the scare tactics: Cuts in defense, first responders, border patrol agents, teachers, air traffic controllers, etc.
We’ve lived through massive cuts in air traffic controllers before. On Aug. 5, 1981, President Reagan fired 11,000 striking air traffic controllers, members of the PATCO union. I remember it well because my dad was an air traffic controller. He’d quit the union in disgust a few years prior, and was one of seven out of 17 that stayed on the job at his facility. They worked seven days a week for a while. I didn’t see my dad very much during that time. He saw a lot of friends and people that he trained lose their jobs, misled by a union. That was the tragedy there. But as a nation, we survived and moved forward.
We’ll survive sequestration, too. Our elected officials decided what the “punishment” would be, and we need to experience it. We’ve allowed them to spend $3.6-trillion per year, too much of which is borrowed, and they can’t find $85-billion in cuts? They’ve failed us.
Bring on the punishment, if for no other reason than to see if they are telling us the truth, and that this will be the end of the world.
So far the markets are unimpressed by all the talk of calamity.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet’s regular news coverage.