Dr. Strangelove: Or How We Learned To Love Sequestration

Wednesday - 8/15/2012, 2:00am EDT

Brace yourself: For the next several months wonks, nerds, politicians, journalists and even some good, God-fearing folk will be talking about and preparing for Sequestration: The day in early January when the S impacts the fan. And you, maybe, become part of the fallout.

Some believe that S-day can't or won't happen.

Others say it must and will happen.

Some claim that the world as we know it will end if the automatic, across-the-board cuts are triggered.

Others say it will be just another contrived close call.

The federal contractor community believes — or says it believes — that it will be hit hardest. They estimate that tens of thousands of jobs, many in the prosperous D.C. area — will disappear. That we here in the Beltway bubble will finally find out what a real recession feels like.

Many in the federal community believe that tens of thousands of civil service jobs will also be endangered. That S-day will (at best) mean furloughs and freezes. At worst, it will result in layoffs that would cut short the careers of several hundred-thousand (by one estimate) federal workers, block promotions, and eliminate training and travel.

Congress and the White House have played the S-card. On the one hand warning that Sequestration must never happen, while fanning the flames through media leaks and in testimony and carefully-crafted public statements. In congressional testimony earlier this month, a top Office of Management and Budget official, said " if allowed to occur, the sequestration would be highly destructive to domestic investments, national security and core government functions."

Acting OMB Director Jeffery Zients said that even if Sequestration doesn't happen (that is if Congress comes to its senses) there could be furloughs, layoffs and program cuts "...even if sequestration never happens."

Federal agencies — with the exception of selected leaks — have resisted coming up with a laundry list showing life in government the day after sequestration. While warning of the horrors of Sequestration, the White House told government contractors there was no need to send out early-warning layoff letters to contractors. Letters that would arrive shortly before the election.

Congress, which created the S-day scenario in order to motivate itself to do something has, to date, done nothing. Except go on vacation. Once it returns, after Labor Day, there is still time to avoid sequestration. But in the super-charged election-year climate anything, including nothing, could happen.


Today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn radio show we have a panel of experts &mdahs; NARFE president Joseph A. Beaudoin, and Steve Watkins and Sean Reilly from the Federal Times — who will talk about Sequestion, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget plans for feds, USPS finances and buyouts, early retirements at Social Security, the new TSA union contract and OPM's retirement processing backlog.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore and Amanda Iacone

Radiation released from the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan last year has not increased the local population of humans' risk for cancer by much. But the local butterflies have not faired so well. In a new study published in Nature's online Scientific Reports found that butterflies collected in the area have higher than normal abnormalities and their offspring have even more deformities.

Slate provides an easier explanation of what this means.


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