Posted on | May 9, 2014 | 5 Comments
At the core of the dysfunction in Washington is this dilemma: Government must approve spending cuts, yet government has no interest in approving spending cuts. Federal employees are quite content with their lifestyles — 46 percent more in retirement benefits than the private sector, cozy job security — and don’t want to see them trimmed. Thus even spending reductions that make it through Congress rarely make a difference.
Look at what happened with the sequester.
By now just reading the word “sequester” should render the average reader cowering under his desk while “Flight of the Valkyries” thunders in his mind. Sequestration, after all, was supposed to hack apart the social order as we knew it. Chris Matthews called it a “doomsday machine.” President Obama warned that “people are going to be hurt.” The Congressional Budget Office predicted 750,000 jobs could be lost. Sequestration, as the trendy metaphor went, was a meat cleaver when what we really needed was a scalpel.
It now seems the cleaver had a rather dull edge. A recent Government Accountability Office found that the sequester resulted in exactly one government layoff. One. . . .
When Congress agreed to cut $37.8 billion in 2011, it was called “the largest annual spending cut in our history” by President Obama, and lethal austerity by many liberal economists. The bureaucracy responded with shell games and chicanery. The Census Bureau cut $6 billion by agreeing not to run the 2010 Census again in 2011. Congress killed $14.6 million for construction of the Capitol Visitor Center, which was finished in 2008. Not a single federal employee was laid off.
According to the Washington Post‘s David Fahrenthold, many conservatives embraced the sequester out of frustration with the 2011 non-cuts. Now we know that the sequester didn’t have a meaningful impact either. . . .