Sequestration threat revives the F-word

Wednesday - 9/26/2012, 2:00am EDT

If you work for the government or are a government contractor and you are not terrified by the prospect of sequestration it means one of several things:

  • You are very smart. You realize this is cynical/clever game of chicken that politicians are playing, and it will never happen.

  • You are dumber than a bag of hammers, because you don't realize this is the gang that can't shoot straight and anything can happen.

  • You are none of the above, because you don't know/don't care what sequestration means.
  • According to federal unions, groups that represent contractors and many politicians, including those at the White House, sequestration must never happen. If it kicks in next year, tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people — previously untouched by the recession — will be furloughed or fired. Or furloughed and then fired. That would have a ripple effect of every local economy that depends on federal salaries and contractor dollars.

    Democrats naturally blame the potential for disaster on Republicans. The GOP says the Democrats are to blame. What else is new?

    People who have followed sequestration the closest are among the most confused. That's because allegedly in-the-know groups — from Congress and the White House to think tanks and pro-fed organizations — are issuing conflicting warnings: Most of them are dire, but others say cool it. Example:

    • The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment estimated that 108,000 civilian jobs at Defense would be slammed if sequestration takes place.

    • An organization representing contractors (mostly Defense) warned that more than 200,000 nonfederal jobs in the contractor community are on the line.

    • The F-word crowd says it could/would lead to a hiring freeze, furloughs and firings. And maybe another extension of the just-extended federal pay freeze.

    • With the election just weeks away, the White House issued a report warning of "deeply destructive" cuts under sequestration. Then it missed a congressionally mandated deadline for a detailed outline of what and where the cuts would be.

    • Despite the White House warnings, the Labor Department, on the other other hand has told government contractors not to send out letters alerting them that there might be layoffs coming. While the warnings are required by law, Labor says the situation doesn't warrant them.

    • Many House Republicans are driving their "leadership" crazy. Some have painted sequestration as catastrophic while others say it is just what the country needs.

    • The latest news is that while the Pentagon, like other agencies, would be hit by the required across-the-board cuts, it doesn't see any layoffs because: They would be too expensive since layoffs require severance pay. That seems like good news at first until somebody inevitably brings up the F-word: Furloughs. Furloughs can be disruptive, but they do save money.
    If you are not confused, a lot of people including myself, owe you an apology.

    Today at 10 a.m. on our Your Turn radio show, Janet Kopenhaver of Federally Employed Women will talk about FEWs take on the consequences of sequestration. The Federal Times' Stephen Losey and Sean Reilly will also join us with a look at the new 2013 health premiums, sequestration and the U.S. Postal Service.

    Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


    NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

    By Jack Moore

    For chronic headache sufferers, more news that may make you want to bang your head into the wall: British scientists have found millions of people suffer from severe headaches caused by ... painkillers.

    (Source: BBC)


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