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News & Politics News & Politics

Obama golfs and congress leaves town.....?????

Posted by on Feb. 23, 2013 at 5:35 AM
  • 4 Replies

 

February 17, 2013

As deadlines go, the March 1 sequester lacks punch. Nobody’s taxes will go up; the U.S. Treasury won’t run out of cash. Government offices won’t immediately turn out the lights and lock the doors. Most federal workers won’t face furlough for at least 30 days.

So Washington felt little need to cancel the Presidents’ Day holiday break. On Friday, President Obama flew to Florida for a long weekend of golf. And Congress left town for nine days, with scant hope of averting deep cuts to the Pentagon and other agencies in the short time remaining when lawmakers return.

Instead of negotiating, party leaders were busy issuing ultimatums and casting blame. Before they left, Senate Democrats unveiled a bill to replace the sequester in part with new taxes on millionaires, which Republicans oppose. And House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed “the sequester will be in effect until there are cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget in the next 10 years,” an idea Democrats oppose. Behind the scenes, there was real concern that the cuts eventually would disrupt critical government functions, hamper economic growth and destroy 750,000 jobs. But for now, the sequester is amorphous and slow-moving, and it has emerged as a convenient hill on which to plant a flag and fight the next battle in the ongoing partisan conflict over taxes and spending.

Even as Boehner refused to draft legislation to avert the sequester, he was looking for ways to avoid a government shutdown at the end of next month, an event that would have more immediate and spectacular consequences.

In a meeting Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), Boehner suggested quick action to fund the government through the rest of this year, according to people in both parties. The current funding bill runs out March 27.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel declined to comment, saying House leaders have not decided how to proceed. But an agreement to keep the government open would let everyone breathe a sigh of relief until August, when the next serious deadline — another increase in the federal debt limit — will once again loom.

In the meantime, lawmakers began bracing for the sequester to creep ever so slowly into people’s lives. This week, a host of Cabinet secretaries wrote letters and trooped to Capitol Hill hearings to warn that the impact will indeed be calamitous.

Furloughed inspectors will force meat and poultry plants to shut down nationwide. Wait times will soar at airport security and border crossings. Rent checks will be cut off to 10,000 elderly or disabled people and single mothers. And the FBI warned it will be less able to “penetrate and disrupt terrorist plans . . . prior to an attack.”

None of it, however, would happen right away. At a hearing Thursday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) begged a panel of top officials to give her more urgency and drama. “Here we are, March 1st. It is now midnight. The clock has moved,” Mikulski intoned with a husky Baltimore accent. “Can’t you paint for me the picture of how sequester is triggered? Do all the lights go out in federal buildings?”

Well, no, said Daniel Werfel, controller at the White House budget office.

But there will be “intense bargaining with unions” about furloughs. Word will go out to federal contractors about contract modifications and terminations. And “governors will be digesting information about how their financial footprint will be impacted. The list goes on and on,” he said.

“And I think it could turn into a firestorm,” offered Mikulski, whose state is home to roughly 300,000 confused and dispirited federal workers.

While the Washington region is likely to be hardest hit, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said the rest of the nation will soon feel its share of pain if the sequester hits. “When meat doesn’t get delivered and food prices go up, when people have to wait five hours to get through an airport line,” Warner said, “this isn’t just going to be a problem for Maryland and Virginia.”

Republicans were, for the most part, unmoved, noting that they see no reason to acquiesce to Democratic demands to replace spending cuts in part with new tax revenue.

After all, “the president last month got an enormous amount of revenue with no spending cuts. Now he’s going to get cuts with no revenue,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, referring to the Jan. 1 “fiscal cliff” deal to raise taxes on income exceeding $450,000.

“The president likes to talk about a balanced approach,” Cole said, “but the idea that we’re going to raise taxes again within six weeks, that’s a pretty hard sell.”

The sequester would cut spending by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. It was adopted during the 2011 debt-limit showdown and designed to be so painful that neither party would ever let it take effect. During the next seven months, it is slated to slice $85 billion out of agency budgets — including $46 billion from the Pentagon — with the cuts applied equally to every program and account, no matter how worthy.

Most social-safety net programs are exempt, and that feature has created “strange bedfellows,” said Steve Bell, an analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center. In addition to the hard-right conservatives who want to cut spending at any cost, Bell said, “now you have liberal Democrats saying, ‘Okay, let them cut defense.’”

The Pentagon cuts remain problematic for many Republicans, however, and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) is working on a government funding bill that would make it easier for the military to handle the cuts by permitting it to shift money among accounts. But Senate leaders are unlikely to accept such a bill, saying it would trigger a rush by Democrats to protect other agencies. Aides in both parties say Reid has urged Boehner to pass a simple government funding bill with no special provisions for any agencies, an idea Boehner is considering.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are pressing ahead with their plan to replace the sequester for the rest of this year, in part with higher taxes on millionaires. But in the unlikely event that the bill were to pass the Senate, it would probably die in the House.

Without a compromise to stop the sequester, some lawmakers are considering a fallback plan that would give agencies more flexibility to decide where the cuts would land. But the White House has argued strenuously against that idea, which has also split Republicans. “The flexibility option accedes, in my view, to the fact that sequester is going to take place, and I will not agree that the sequester will take place,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “It’s too damaging.”

This piece originally appeared in The Washington Post .

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2013/02/17/Obama-Golfs-Congress-Leaves-Town-as-Budget-Cuts-Loom.aspx#page1

 

 

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have."---Thomas Jefferson

by on Feb. 23, 2013 at 5:35 AM
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gsprofval
by Gold Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 10:27 AM

This:

While the Washington region is likely to be hardest hit, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said the rest of the nation will soon feel its share of pain if the sequester hits. “When meat doesn’t get delivered and food prices go up, when people have to wait five hours to get through an airport line,” Warner said, “this isn’t just going to be a problem for Maryland and Virginia.”

Heck, we can't afford food and gas now!

gsprofval
by Gold Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 10:36 AM

When, exactly, has bho EVER been in the office doing his work?  Benghazi? Nope!

Farmlady09
by Silver Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 3:57 PM
1 mom liked this

Yet they all keep getting reelected and paid ...

I'm glad that we have our farm, lots of food, and relatively squat as far as bills go. The thought of paying for food in the grocery stores right now ... well, it wouldn't be possible. What I grow and raise is far better as far as quality, but it's also within the realm of affordable. If I had to go work for a paycheck, pay all the related work expenses, and still buy food, the quality of what we eat would nosedive.

I looked at the meat in our local store about a month ago and about choked when I saw the prices. According to what I saw, I have over $400 worth of chicken running around, $4800 of duck, $3200 of pork (with more due in under 2 months), and about $875 of rabbit ... not to mention milk, eggs, etc. fresh each day. I have a years worth of potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, rhubarb, etc. already well along in the garden ... plus all the rest of my veggies, herbs, and some fruit that will ripen over the spring, summer, and fall. Yup, I do have to put all of it into jars or the freezer ~ but other than some animal feed the cost is only my time. We have solar for electric, a well and a septic tank, and ... because I raise our food and opt for sustainable rather than throw away items, we don't make enough trash to fill the dumpster even once over each year ~ so no trash bill. We just drop a small bag off at the dump if we have to.

I'm even more concerned with what this mess will do to the military, how many people will end up laid off, furloughed, or flat out fired, and how the 'health care' fiasco will play into all of it.

But the bums who created the whole mess and should be fixing it are ... golfing ... on recess ... and getting paid.

Most of all I'd like to say I feel badly for people, but with the exception of those who are elderly or military, I just don't.  

143myboys9496
by Gold Member on Feb. 23, 2013 at 5:39 PM
1 mom liked this

 And the thing is, everything they're claiming not only will affect the "53%" but the "47%" as well.

Seriously, Barry needs a dope slap.

I wonder if Boehner will actually follow thru with his threat? To withhold congressional pay until they come up with a budget.

THAT would be AWESOME!!!

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