With little indication that political leaders are willing to reach a compromise on government spending and taxation priorities, the Friday sequester deadline will be followed by (at least) four more budget crises created by Washington politicians.
The sequester was a set of reductions in the growth of government spending that went into effect on Friday as part of the Budget Control Act (2011). The cuts in spending growth were designed to be so painful that they would force even a deeply divided Congress and president to agree to a long term deficit reduction plan. But, they were not painful enough to encourage political leaders to engage in one of the most fundamental aspects of Democratic governance: compromise.
The failure of the sequester to enforce an adherence to Democratic norms of policymaking on the nation's political leaders bodes ill for what lies ahead. In the coming months, Congress and President Barack Obama will need to fund the government for the rest of the current fiscal year, pass funding for the next fiscal year, pass a federal budget and increase the debt limit. more >>
Mitt Romney believes he would be doing better than Barack Obama as president. In his first interview since the election, Mitt Romney spoke about the disappointment of not winning, sequestration and what went wrong with his campaign.
"When I look at what's happening right now, I wish I were there. It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done," Romney said on Fox News Sunday.
Romney believes that the sequester and the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, also known as the "fiscal cliff," presented a "once in a generational opportunity" to put the nation on a path to prosperity, in which "America could lead the world for the next century." more >>
Messages from politicians about the sequester have been sprinkled along a broad continuum from disastrous to barely consequential to a modest dose of necessary austerity. Here are some examples.
Those who take the doomsday view of the sequester, a set of automatic cuts ($1.2 trillion over 10 years) to the growth in government spending that began going into effect on Friday, include mostly Democrats. more >>
Rep. Maxine Waters of California was roundly mocked and even became a trending topic on Twitter on Thursday after a video of her claiming erroneously that the automatic budget sequester, which becomes effective tonight, will cost America 170 million jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, America currently has fewer than 135 million working people.
Reporting information that allegedly came from the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, Congresswoman Waters warned ominously of the catastrophic number of job losses that would hit America once the budget sequester becomes law. more >>
An important anti-slavery bill is heading to President Barack Obama's desk after the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), aimed at tackling the $32 billion trafficking enterprise.
"This is an important step toward freedom for the millions of women, men and children around the globe who are trafficked into forced labor and sex slavery each year," said David Abramowitz, Director of ATEST and Vice President for Policy & Government Relations, Humanity United, one of the groups backing the Senate-approved bill.
"We applaud Senators Leahy and Rubio for their steadfast leadership in the fight against modern slavery and we look forward to seeing President Obama sign this cornerstone anti-trafficking measure into law." more >>
As it becomes clear the President Obama is making Medicare a key topic for discussion within the broader context of federal spending, Democrats and Republicans have an opportunity to pursue common-sense reforms that preserve the program while achieving bipartisan support for fixing what isn't working.
Despite ongoing reservations, I believe that some parts of the Affordable Care Act can conceivably be implemented with minimal dislocation, but only if the right policies are embraced by the administration. And that's why I think that the president is making a mistake in proposing potentially damaging changes to arguably the most effective part of Medicare, instead of building on its progress and finding a way to drive long-term cost savings by keeping seniors healthy.
The Medicare program component in question is the Part D drug benefit that George W. Bush signed in 2003 (later implemented in 2006). Part D was created to cover the drug coverage gap that that once existed in the Medicare's plan for older and disabled Americans. Under Part D, seniors choose from a wide variety of privately run drug plans that negotiate individually with drug makers: seniors pay far less than they used to for coverage. more >>