Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Washington Watch: Week 4

The Sequester is coming...The Sequester is Coming!

The Sequester Countdown Clock:

So what does 'sequester' mean?  

According to dictionary.com as a verb it means: to remove or withdraw into solitude or retirement; (Using this meaning, there are many politicians we would like to sequester!)

As a legal term, sequester means: to remove (property) temporarily from the possession of the owner; (Yes...they are 'holding up' our government!)

As a noun, sequester means: A cut in government spending. (What we have here...maybe.)

The sequester we are currently facing  (and please know that WE ALL face it...it is not just a Government exercise) came about because of a lack of a budget agreement from the GOP-controlled House (or maybe I should say tea-party controlled House), and the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. 

This comes as a result of kicking-the-can-down-the-road too many times. The sequester is designed to be something neither side wants -- budget cuts (to balance the budget and lower the deficit) that would make both sides miserable if they take effect.  In a 'common-sense' situation -- (I know, I know) -- both sides would negotiate and agree to a compromise.  Not this time.

NPR sums up how the sequester came to be in a story by Frank James: "Whose Sequester is it Anyway?", suggesting:
"By now, it's widely accepted that indiscriminate spending cuts in defense and domestic programs due to start March 1 are likely to occur owing to the failure of President Obama and the Republican-led House to reach an agreement to avoid the budgetary cleaver.
So now, the contest boils down to each side scampering for the higher ground of moral indignation."
However, what most Americans want to know -- what will be cut?  What's real and what is fear-mongering?

For a list of possibilities....What programs could be effected? Who could get furloughed? What would this mean for us? ...check out the comprehensive list at the end of this HuffPo article: 
Budget Cut Warnings May Prove Harsher Than Reality
The warnings are getting pretty dire...with both sides casting blame.  From the White House blog:
President Obama: Automatic Budget Cuts Will Hurt Economy, Slow Recovery, and Put People Out of Work
And then there is House Speaker John "Can't Control my Own Party" Boehner':
John Boehner: Sequester Is Product Of Obama's 'Failed Leadership' 
(HuffPo from Boehner's Wall Street Journal editorial published 2-19-2013)

Will we get a deal before the sequester?  Doubt it!  The House will let the sequester take effect and then vote to restore funding in the areas they support... knowing the bill(s) won't get past the Senate and White House...and the blame game will continue. Or, maybe another sequester...


A Nostalgic look at Week Four - 2009:   (Excerpts from my National Scene blog, February 24 2009)

  • "Republican governors say 'NO' to stimulus money" -- a group of Southern Republican governors decided to turn down some of the money from the economic stimulus package.“I just have a fundamental disagreement with this package,” Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said. He opposes expanding eligibility for unemployment, for example, because it would increase employer taxes. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour have also said they may not take the stimulus package's unemployment money. Critics suggested these governors were putting ideology over the needs of their cash-strapped constituents.
  • The President and Vice-President met with actor George Clooney to discuss the deteriorating situation in Darfur and American relief efforts.
  • The President unveiled a housing plan designed to help up to 9 million people.
    He laid out the four key elements of the 'Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan':
1. refinancing help for four to five million homeowners who receive their mortgages through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.   2. new incentives for lenders to modify the terms of sub-prime loans at risk of default and foreclosure.   3. steps to keep mortgage rates low for millions of middle class families looking to secure new mortgages.   4. additional reforms designed to help families stay in their homes.

And, Finally:

From the White House Blog: George Washington's guide book "Acts of Congress." 

"During Washington’s first year in office, Congress ordered 600 copies of the Acts of Congress to be printed and distributed to federal and state government officials. The book compiled the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other legislation passed by the first session of Congress. George Washington’s personal copy of the Acts of Congress contains his own handwritten notes in the margins."

George Washington's birthday is February 22.

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