For the past 19 months, Obama and Congressional Democrats have had the opportunity to find common ground with Republicans to cut spending. The time frame for finding ways to cut spending was established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 signed by Barack Obama, and was put in place by Republicans so that the billions of dollars being accessed by the President would have an offsetting cut in spending.
“Sequestration” was mandated by the Act so that cuts would be guaranteed if an agreement on spending cuts could not be reached by the various Senators and Representatives on spending reductions by the deadline defined in the Budget Control act. That was the “Trigger”.
Those ‘Triggered’ cuts were placed in the Budget Control Act by Congressional Republicans as a deterrant to procrastination on spending cuts.
However, staying true to form, Democrats were loathe to cut spending on their sacred cow programs, and instead proposed sweeping tax increases to pay back their excessive spending. Congressional Republicans and Independants, weary of Democrat threats and demands, stood firm and refused tax increases and were insistent upon pursuing significant spending cuts. Neither side compromised, and Democrats have taken to scare tactics and blaming Republicans. Republicans prepare for the cuts, some of which will profoundly effect programs long viewed as “right-side” bastions.
In all the fray and blame though, very few have looked at whether or not these cuts are going to be bad. So we’ve taken a look at the potential ramifications and the spin-filled rhetoric.
US Customs and Border Protection will endure 12-14 days furlough of customs and border patrol workers, and a reduction in workforce by 5000 border patrol agents and 2750 customs officers. The President and his administration says this will increase wait-times at entry ports including airports. The administration is warning of increased wait times at airports, seaports and other ports of entry.
Federal Aviation Administration will have 11 days of furlough for all FAA employees, and will have to reduce it’s capital expenditures by $136 million on maintenance and mondernization of airtraffic control systems. The ramifications are that the development of the Next-Gen satellite navigation system will be delayed, and travels will experience delays as 10% of the workforce will not be working on any given day.
Transportation Security Administration will have seven day furloughs for TSA screeners. According to the TSA this will increase wait-times by as much as an hour.
Is it just me, or do these three have pretty similar results? How much of what these Agency/Departments do is overlapping? Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to be taking bids by private companies to handle the TSA duties?
Department of Agriculture – The USDA has said that 8400 meat inspectors would need to be furloughed, and that those cuts would prohibit food aid to 600,000 pregnant women, new mothers and infants. Also, the Agriculture census would be delayed
Food and Drug Administration – Non-user fee funding will be reduced by $133 million causing the testing of imported food and medical products to be significantly reduced. Additionally there would be cuts in oversight of domestic food safety.
Okay, so who are these 600,000 pregnant women, new mothers and infants? Is the Agriculture Census a matter of urgency? Imported food and medical products testing would be significantly reduced…hmm…could we produce these products inside of the USA? Isn’t the FDA the one who is putting the regulations on food safety in the first place?
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will have their Disaster Relief fund reduced by just over a billion dollars resulting in the agency having to restrict hurricane season aid to immediate needs. Reduction of $120 million in grants to state and local agencies supposedly resulting in the layoff of emergency personnel and first responders.
National Parks, Forests and Wildlife Refuges will have complete closure of 128 national wildlife refuges. Access hours for some facilities will be reduced or limited. Possible closure of campgrounds, trails and other recreational areas if there is insufficient staff to provide security.
Environmental Protection Agency will have approximately 1,000 fewer inspections for enforcement of clean air and water laws. Clean-up programs for the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound will be slowed.
Let’s see, after the debacle in New Jersey regarding Hurricane Sandy, isn’t it possible that a little reorganization and restructuring might be in order? The layoff of emergency personnel is troubling, but each and every city has it’s own police force, fire department-and those people are top notch at their jobs. As for the National Parks, Forests, and Wildlife, as well as the EPA – I hear Al Gore has a fair bit of money after the global warming schemes, perhaps he can contribute a bit? Isn’t the EPA the one that’s making us buy all those more expensive lightbulbs? Maybe they could use a little restructuring and reorganizing as well?
Department of Justice will have furloughs of staff and agents equivalent to the loss of about a thousand federal agents. The Federal Bureau of Investigation will have 14 days of furlough. 145 attorney positions will be removed.
Social Security Administration will furlough the majority of their employees for ten days. Some Social Security offices will close early.
Internal Revenue Service will have an unspecified amount of furloughs at IRS call centers as well as a decrease in enforcement activities by IRS agents.
U.S. Embassy Security will endure $168 million in cuts to embassy security. Eighty facilities will experience a delay in upgrades.
Hmm. This group is a little bit trickier. The Social Security Administration slowing down for a few days is not terrific. The Department of Justice layoffs/retasking/firings mean a significant number of great law enforcement officials will be getting a raw deal. Eric Holder is not one of those being fired. As for the furloughs and decreased enforcement activities at the IRS, it is uncertain if there is going to be a widespread negative outcry. Time will tell. The cuts in US Embassy Security seem troubling given the horrific incident in Bengahzi.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have $350 million cut from their budget which by their statements will result in roughly 424,000 fewer HIV tests, and 25,000 fewer breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income, high-risk women.
Education, according to the Administration will experience cuts of $750 million in funding for educational assistance to low-income schools serving a million or more students, with job losses for more than 10,500 teachers and aides. There will be reduction of $600 million in special education grants to states, resulting in layoffs by school districts of about 7,400 special education teachers and aides.
Alright, so the CDCP is is handling breast and cervical screenings, but Obamacare is supposed to take over this “HEALTHCARE FOR ALL” stuff, correct? Sadly, Obamacare seems to be to America what the Edsel was to Ford- a very bad, very costly, very extensive mistake. As for the Education cuts, good teachers can be amazing and can change a child’s life for the positive. Bad teachers on the other hand, try to teach kids what to think, rather than how to think. Considering that “mmm-mmm-mmm, Barack Hussein Obama” was not part of the original core curriculum, and also that Educational provision isn’t technically part of the Federal government’s job description (and for “technically” read “Constitutionally”), perhaps a bit of spending restraint might help get priorities in order. It’s worth at least a secondary or even perhaps tertiary thought.
Department of Defense will freeze civilian hiring, roughly 1,500 to 2,000 people per week. $10 billion in funding will be trimmed by cutting down on contractors maintaining and renovating of Department of Defense facilities nationwide. Reduction of training and maintenance for Army units. Reduce naval operations in the Pacific by a third. “In-cockpit” time for Air Force Pilots reduced. Cut $3 billion in health care for military personnel/retirees which could lead to “denials of elective services” of both active-duty dependents and retirees. 2,500 weapons development programs will be cut by 9%.
This has been the spending cut that Republicans have been bludgeoned with in order to force them to capitulate to the Democrats proposed tax increase. The bottom line though is that Republicans have stood firm on the requirements of the law, and the Department of Defense particularly the military branches will do what American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines have always done. They will adapt, they will overcome, they will continue to defend this country against all enemies – no matter how hard the Democrats try to cut their budget.
In closing, there are some areas of spending that were not even touched. The mandatory budget cuts kept well away from welfare spending, as is to be expected given that this demographic pulled the lever for Democrats by a margin of nearly 8 to 1. It is not surprising that Obama would protect this voting block for his fellow partymembers.
The “Trigger” has been pulled and the Sequester has fired. The Obama administration will continue to stamp it’s feet and make sulky decisions, such as desisting White House tours in order to show it’s displeasure at ANY restriction to the POTUS’ spending agenda. Here in the real world though, average Americans have grown tired of the rhetoric, and are fed up with Obama & co.’s hissy-fits and misrepresentation.