Newsflash – Politicians Are Lying About Dire Sequestration Consequences

February 27, 2013 | Posted by Enrique

You may recall in 2011, as part of a deal to raise the federal government debt ceiling, our elected officials agreed to automatic across-the-board spending limits – I hesitate to call them cuts – as a way of imposing the appearance of fiscal discipline. Those spending “cuts” are due to go into effect on Friday, although by the time you read this they may have been averted by some act of craven self-interest.

Leading up to the sequestration (the name politicians use to describe these fake spending cuts), there has been a lot of fear-mongering about the supposedly disastrous consequences. As you may have guessed, this fear-mongering is utter rubbish. For our story this week, let’s have a look at some charts I’ve collected (and even sourced) that illustrate how badly politicians and their water-carriers in the media have misled us.

The story so far…

Thanks, Heritage Foundation

If you have been following any of this sequester business (and you’re in the minority if you are), you might be under the impression that these so-called cuts will have some kind of noticeable impact. Politicians and incurious journalists have been warning us about the devastating consequences these cuts will have to the economy, to public services, to national security, to kittens that have climbed tall trees, blah blah blah…

It’s worth remembering that politicians’ power comes from taking money from one group of people by force, and then redistributing it to their favored constituencies. Cutting government spending – or even taking steps to limit perpetual automatic increases in spending – threatens to reduce politicians’ power to pick winners and losers. Naturally, it’s in their best interest to portray the very idea of spending cuts as horrific, and therefore their claims should be taken with a heap of salt.

Take President Barack Obama. (Please.) Obama has a long track record of economic ignorance and outright dishonesty. We should keep that in mind when he tells us the sky will fall if the sequester goes through:

Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.

Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.

Whoa, that’s pretty serious. I mean, Border Patrol agents seeing their hours reduced? Holy shit.

These are transparent scare tactics. He might as well have said “and your kids are going to smoke weed and have better sex than you.” Of course, Obama isn’t the only disingenuous clown to act like these cuts will have devastating consequences. As of this writing, some congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to avoid defense spending cuts, which they say will have a “debilitating impact on national defense.”

Nonsense. As the Heritage Foundation chart above shows, spending keeps going up, even with these sequestration “cuts”. As usual, these cuts are actually lower spending increases than originally planned. Here’s another chart on the same theme from Daniel J. Mitchell of the Cato Institute.

Teachers laid off, criminals going free, national security eroded, Osama bin Laden will come back to life, etc. The idea that sequestration will have devastating impact is one of the most obvious lies in the history of American political discourse.

The sequestration “cuts” amount to about $44 billion in FY2013. For a federal government that has a budget of over $3.5 trillion, $44 billion is chump change – just over 1% of annual spending. “Debilitating impact on national defense” my ass.

Here’s another helpful chart from Cato that illustrates how unserious this sequestration debate has become.


Obama and other sequester fear-mongers frequently make the argument that the worst thing about these cuts is that their seemingly arbitrary nature. “It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program,” it just cuts across-the-board. Why is that a bad thing?

Bloated programs have crony capitalists and welfare queens attached to them, with high priced lobbyists that guarantee they exist forever. As long as that’s the case, across-the-board cuts are the most reasonable and efficient method for changing Washington budgeting culture.

After all, spending has been increasing across-the-board for years. The U.S. government was spending hundreds of billions of dollars less just a few years ago – are we really that much better off than we were in 2006?

If we survived the mid-2000s, we can survive not spending $44 billion this year. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

Obama isn’t the only one selling rubbish, but he’s arguably the most shameless. Even Bob Woodward has called Obama out for criticizing a sequestration policy that was his idea in the first place. It takes a special kind of bastard to tell us the bill he signed into law is going to be our undoing. If sequestration hits on Friday, I have a feeling the U.S. will survive.

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