Sequestration game hurts non-players
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 00:03
The automatic government spending cuts known as sequestration officially went into effect last Thursday.
The nation was warned it would happen. It was conjured up to be a worst-case scenario in dealing with the growing deficit. The political games continued.
But this is not a game.
Government agencies have already sent out furlough notices to government employee unions that mandate that they lose as many as 22 days of work. From the workers at the Environmental Protection Agency, to civilian and military workers on bases across the country employed by the Department of Defense, the ones being impacted the most are those whose only involvement in the matter is that they chose to work for their country.
While many of the more than 2.1 million federal employees will have to go on unpaid furloughs, effectively cutting their pay by 20 percent, those in both chambers of Congress will not see their base salary of $174 thousand decrease.
Despite the warnings and the political bantering that ensued, the American people were forced to watch as the seemingly apocalyptic and indiscriminate budget cuts loomed while lawmakers did little to curb sequestration from happening.
The entire situation turned into an embarrassing game of chicken. Republicans in Congress held steadfast to their unwillingness to raise more revenue by increasing taxes on the richest Americans. Democrats refused to budge on cutting government spending without Republicans agreeing on matching said cuts with increased revenues or closing tax loopholes.
This game has been carrying on since the Budget Control Act was passed in 2011 and effectively raised the debt ceiling. Congress gave themselves two years to agree on a deal that would fairly cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion or else all government programs would be cut indiscriminately, with some exceptions, effectively disabling many government programs from running efficiently.
It is undeniable that sequestration is a low point in the country’s history. The reluctance for Congress and the President to come to an agreement makes it clear that there are serious issues in the political system.
It is disgusting, disheartening and disturbing that those in Congress are able to keep their six-figure salaries, while those who work for the government agencies that lawmakers have deemed discretionary are the ones that must ultimate lose in a game they were never players in.