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End of the world delayed?
Tuesday - 7/31/2012, 2:00am EDT
Groups representing federal workers, special interests, government contractors and other interested parties have presented end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it! "studies" that point to a deeper recession, massive unemployment, etc., if automatic across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) take effect in early 2013. Each has impressive data that they will suffer most, but that we will still all suffer.
For months, Senate Democrats and House Republicans have predicted doomsday because of the stupid, arrogant, politically motivated stance of the other side. But not them.
The House, which generates appropriations bills, has passed seven of the 12 bills. The Senate — which says there are political poison pills in those bills — hasn't approved any of those versions. And the White House has indicated the president would veto at least six of the seven if they make it out of Congress.
Congress last year failed to act on the recommendations of the bipartisan Congressional supercommittee that would have headed off massive, across-the-board sequestration cuts. Congress couldn't agree on a package of deficit cuts compiled by the highly regarded Simpson-Bowles Commission. The Blair House group headed by Vice President Joe Biden also didn't come up with a solution. Which leaves two things ...
With about 100 days until the election, Congress can keep doing what it has been doing — fighting and blocking whatever the opposition proposes — in hopes their side will benefit in November. Or ...
Congress may very well do what experts have predicted from the start. That is, pass a CR (continuing resolution) that would keep the government operating at current levels for 30, 60 or more likely 90 days past the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year.
Whatever happens, and whenever it happens, most federal agencies are expecting they will be asked to do more with less as the deficit continues to grow. Sequestration would mean cuts even in places like the Internal Revenue Service, which is Uncle Sam's top money maker. And Defense, which is heavily involved in Afghanistan, and more heavily than most know, involved in several operations in Africa. And very nervous about the Persian Gulf. And our border with Mexico.
In the event of sequestration, some agencies are preparing for furloughs. Others are trying to slim down now via a series of late-in-the-fiscal- year buyout and early retirement offers.
But many of the pros are guessing Congress will kick the can down the road, via a long-term CR that would move the sequestration problem/decision into the first quarter of next year.
Once the situation is settled, we can return to the vexing problem of the end of the world. Some "experts" (probably the same people that advise politicians on how to win) have interpreted the Mayan calendar to mean that the world will be destroyed or drastically altered on or about Dec. 21. This could mean the North and South poles will change places, tsunamis will devastate the world, a meteor will strike our planet or that Kim Kardashian will find true and lasting love.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
By Jack Moore
Pop music used to be all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. In the 1960s, 85 percent of songs on the American Top 40 chart were written in a major key, according to researchers. Today, only about 43 percent of songs are.
(h/t The Guardian)
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