Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sequestration: watching the uninvited change to middle-income earners quality of life?

Sequestering: To set aside or remove; to take temporary possession of as security against claim – Webster English Dictionary

When a Republican bemoans sequestration cuts, you probably assume that his/her party leadership also empathizes with him/her regarding the set aside. It is also likely that you are thinking when this budget set aside going to hit you, your children and or parents. Very few of us ever think law making in American Congress will deteriorate to a level that our lawmakers cannot take the initiative to save the economy from another possible free fall, because of the choice of allowing sequestration cuts. And for those of you who are thinking, no one should be concerned, since this new terminology for austerity, or temporary possession of part of budget allocation, is just another way of slowing down federal government expenditure, I’ll say: think again!

In the past two years, some say throughout President Obama’s stewardship of the White house, Republicans in congress have generally forgotten the term compromise when it comes to dealing with issues of lawmaking. Many congressional lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, continue to disown the memorandum of sequestration. Republican lawmakers continue to assert the failure of leadership in the White House, Congressional Democrats continue to charge Congressional Republicans for playing politics, asking if it was better to continue to give tax brakes to oil and gas companies who are flush with cash against, allowing children in federal head-start program to remain longer days in school; or, even have milk with their breakfast. Whether it is right for Congressional Republicans to claim that the economy will be stronger as we move down the road with the sequestration, rather than building a solid foundation for the economy to blossom and flourish.

How can you build a stronger economy when bills to create jobs, cut taxes for middle income earners and invest in alternative source of energy are relegated to the fourth or tenth rung of congressional agenda, if not oblivion? How can you build a foundation for a flourishing economy, when major participants, middle class people who work and spend a greater ratio of their earnings and income on goods and services produced in the economy are dissented to a large extent by a memorandum of sequestration? How can you create jobs for the unemployed, when the focus is not to create jobs in the economy? How can we have a growing economy, not to talk of an expanding and flourishing economy, when our congressional Republican are subscribing to cutting programs that directly impact the livelihood of many poor and disadvantaged Americans? Would someone in Congress tell us why Social Security and or Medicare are on the chopping block?

While American Stock Market and Commodities future markets are performing at record level, performance never before seen in over a decade, and all we aspire for, is a taxation regime that is completely skewed towards the benefit of less than one percent of the citizens, the one per-center, who own more than eighty percent of national wealth? Many voters in the 2012 general elections thought that exactly was what they voted against, by rejecting Mitt Romney’s ambition for the White House? For Congressional Republicans, even if the sequestration cuts are going to spite their constituent members, it is still alright to be patricians on the sequestration cuts! Republican leadership in congress will advance that their choice not to act to prevent sequestration cuts, is a choice to force the federal government to manage its deficit; or make the free market system work better for the few rich among us so they can in turn invest to create and build a better economy, or real free economy. This is a very troubling understanding or assertion on the part of this group of lawmakers!

It is not unusual to hear Congressional Republicans lambast the Whitehouse for not showing leadership that could have prevented sequestration cuts; however, they were unable to make headway with their plan B, a plan scheduled to substitute for the huge sum of sequestration cost for 2013. Rather than pass a substitute plan developed by the Republicans, they were unable to convince enough members of their party to support Plan B! Some political observes maintain that there are enough blames to go around, both for Republican and Democratic Congressional lawmakers; even as far as the White House. It is not just good enough to say no one wants American Economy to crumble; or that some adjustments is needed in across the board spending cuts without raising revenue. It is not enough to advance probable unworkable plan rather than pull the bull by the horn and address 17 trillion dollars debt with some revenue uptick and a commitment to closing the huge tax holes or gap and probably, look for alternative avenue to address the issue of budget short fall.

President Obama’s outreach to Congressional Republicans in some very unusual way, by inviting them to a hotel, a neutral ground for discussing differences among congressional lawmakers, is forthright and probably forward looking; however, will these meeting yield results to make America’s legislative process more fluid to help build a better and flourishing economy? Will this meeting make banks loan money to ordinary citizens who want to buy a new home or start a business? Will this meeting lead to hiking of taxes, closing loopholes in the tax laws and giving tax incentives to industries that are hiring the unemployed?

No one would subscribe to the conception that an invitation of less than two dozen Republican senators to a hotel for political smooching will achieve the needed change to help congress refocus its attention to job creation, especially when we saw how relatively brief the meeting with the lawmakers and the White House. Critics of this noble effort from the White House, claim the meeting was really nothing but a public relation’s effort by the White House, for its inability to make congress do what it has proposed or liked. However, financially savvy members of the public point attention to the doubling of Dow Jones over the period which President Obama has been in office as a great indicator that the President is doing things right; only if he could get congressional Republicans to fall in line, or advice the US House Speaker to put his house in order so that the work of the people, can be completed or done.

According to the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), the Sequestration is to cut one and a half trillion dollars over 10years in the US budget. In 2013, Sequestration is supposed to include $85.4 billion spread in cuts as follows: $42.7 billion defense cuts (a 7.9% cut); $28.7 billion domestic discretionary cuts (a 5.3% cuts); $9.9 billion Medicare cuts (a 2% cut); $4 billion mandatory cuts (a 5.8 % non-defense programs; 7.8% mandatory defense program cuts). Worse more, from 2014 to 2021, the overall budgetary discretionary cuts in the budget are to rise from $87 to $92 billion, to a total of $109 billion. The sequestration cuts were meant to make both Republican and Democratic lawmakers work together on passing a budget. If Congressional lawmakers had passed a budget prior to the enactment of the Budget Control Act of 2011 on December 23, 2011; the nation would have averted sequestration. However, Congressional lawmakers had been so apathetically; some say uncompromising at all level of the budget making or negotiations process, that all the essential legislative requirements had been excluded; and this has result to defaulting to sequestration.

What do we know from all these expected cuts or sequestrations? If a lawmaker tells you the sequestration is not as bad as you may think, I’ll suggest that you tell him or her, you are not going to be fooled! With the size and somewhat of an across the board cuts for so long, definitely, unintended consequences are likely to result; and there comes in the consequence and grief of sequestration! Imagine cuts to the programs of National Institute of Health, yes, that institute that is funding and attempting to find answers to why millions of Americans dies from whatever cancer you’ve heard, yes that institute is supposed to take a hit! There are going to be furloughs for Federal Career Officers, denial of extended unemployment insurance for workers who have remained unemployed from about six to one year under the Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and if Obama’s Administration is unable to get an approval from congress that the scheduled cut of eighty-five billion plus is substituted for repeal of tax cut for the oil and gas industry and, a mix of tax increases using the buffet rule, Americans in the middle income group are going to feel the impact rather disproportionally; but it will still be there.

Both proposals advanced in Congress, either by Democratic or Republican lawmakers, to support or overtake White House proposal to have some raise in revenue, in place of 2013 intended cuts, seem untenable or very far from reality. The American Family Economic Protection Act meant to replace 2013 sequestration with spending cuts and tax increases to the tune of $110 billion have been venally rejected by the House Congressional Republicans. Plan B proposed by House Speaker John Boehner, which Republicans themselves refused to pass into law, and other current proposals swirling through both chambers of congress are probably doom because of the strife; yes strife, that has beclouded congressional lawmaking in America!.

Two major things will resolve this strife in congress that has made lawmaking a nightmare, no matter how much the public would rather have it differently: 1) it is time to send home all extremists and self-centered lawmakers home in the mid-term elections in 2014; 2) If the recalcitrance and non-compromises remain in congress past 2014, the public will have to subscribe to a “no clause” attachment to negotiations  in contemplated legislation to temper the excruciating pain of sequestration to middle income Americans.