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When the S (sequestration) hits the fan?
Friday - 7/20/2012, 2:00am EDT
Self-destruction is not a good talking point, or bargaining chip. And yet...
That's what politicians — who are asking us to reelect them this November — are doing by playing the sequestration card. Except that when sequestration hits the fan, we could all suffer. Big time. Maybe get furloughed, forced to take a pay cut or handed a pink slip.
As far as I can tell, I don't know a single person who can explain exactly what "sequestration" is, how it would work and what it would do. It may have happened before, in a milder form. But nobody is quite sure when or where it happened, what impact it had or how long it lasted.
As yet another deadline approaches, both political parties are warning that while it might happen, it shouldn't happen. Yet both Democrats and Republicans have, at various times, set things up so that if they don't get their way — taxes are at the core — they will sequest all over us. And themselves.
The sequestration card was set up last year when Congress appointed the so-called supercommittee. The 12-member group was evenly split between Republicans who control the House and Democrats who control the Senate. The committee was formed in mid-August with a Dec. 23 deadline. The idea was to come up with a BRAC-like proposal that would result in a $1.5 trillion in costs over 10 years. It would be a share-the-pain deal that would begin when Congress approved it. If not, "sequestration" — automatic-across-the-board-cuts — would begin in January 2013.
Guess what? Although Congress had the mandate, the time and the reason — can you say recession? — to get it done, it didn't get it done. Nothing happened except that a lot of hot air was generated in Washington which doesn't need any more heat in the summer.
The good news for feds, is that the supercommittee was considering cuts — in federal retirement benefits, federal health benefits and future pay raises — that had been proposed earlier by a White House commission. Which also fizzled out.
The bad news for feds, as taxpayers and citizens, is that nothing has happened and unless it does, the sequestration boogeyman will be let loose. Depending on which lobby you listen to it will eliminate several hundred thousand civilian federal jobs, and again as many jobs among federal contractors.
There is talk of Weather Service furloughs during the hurricane season. Outside groups have warned of layoffs of FBI agents. The White House raises the possibility of national park shutdowns if the S-fan goes off.
Nonfederal industries, from travel and food to services and entertainment, will be hit by the ripple effect as tens of thousands of federal and private sector jobs disappear.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
By Jack Moore
A New York City food truck is now selling a $666 hamburger that along with the traditional beef patty contains lobster, caviar and truffles all wrapped in six sheets of gold leaf, according to Slate. (Click the link to see what they're calling it)
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