The Times West Virginian

March 3, 2013

Sequestration: Not catastrophic enough?


Times West Virginian

— There have only been a few times in the history of the Times West Virginian’s poll analysis when a question has an answer before the week’s end.

This week is one of those rare cases.

Last week on our website, www.timeswv.com, we asked our readers to cast a vote in our online poll question. We asked, “Do you think that Congress and the president will come to an agreement on federal budgetary cuts before sequestration kicks in, prompting automatic and across-the-board budget cuts?”

Of course the deadline hit at 12:01 a.m. Friday, March 1.

And the answer was “no.”

Sequestration means that mandatory and across-the-board spending cuts will occur because of a bill that passed prior to the last debt-ceiling increase. These automatic cuts would amount to $1.2 trillion over 10 years — $600 billion in national defense and $600 bil­lion in non-military programs. Sequestration is primarily a deterrent — meaning that these automatic cuts seem so cata­strophic that Congress does what it can to avoid the situation.

Or maybe not catastrophic enough.

When congressional leaders met with President Barack Obama Friday morning, everyone walked away without any resolution other than $85 billion in cuts to the federal budget.

This could mean furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal employees. And everything from education to air traffic control could be affected over the next seven months.

But it all can stop if Congress and the president can agree on an alternative. Maybe we should have asked just how likely that would be.

The president seemed resigned on Friday morning when he addressed the press pool.

"Not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain though will be real. Beginning this week, many middle class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways," Obama said. "Even with these cuts in place, folks all across this country will work hard to make sure that we keep the recovery going, but Washington sure isn't making it easy.”

And party politics what they are, Democrats are saying that tax loopholes forced shut would bring in more revenue. And Republicans are saying we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem in this country.

And both sides are right. Boy, wouldn’t it be great if they could see that and meet someplace in the middle?

Anyway, back to the results of our online poll question, which almost everyone seemed to agree on. Here are the results when readers were asked if we would avoid sequestration.

• Maybe — Sometimes an impending deadline forces a commitment to working across party lines — 7.58 percent.

• Yes — There’s no way Washington, D.C., is going to put thousands of federal employees out of work in an economy like this — 20 percent

• No — While sequestration should be “end game” these politicians can’t agree on which direction the sun sets — 72.73 percent

This week, let’s talk about the one most important characteristic that the next chosen pope should have.

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor

mpoe@timeswv.com

@MistyPoeTWV