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home : opinion : opinion August 19, 2014

2/27/2013 6:02:00 AM
Delinquent Congress will cost us

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

When $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts take effect Friday - and they will - the harm to Arizona will be significant.

According to the White House, which posted on Sunday a state-by-state breakdown of the impacts sequestration will create; the Grand Canyon State will not emerge unscathed.

The biggest hit, of course, will go to education, which stands to lose nearly $18 million in funding for K-12 schools.

That could mean 240 teachers and their aides lose jobs. Another $10 million used to pay for 120 additional teachers who help children with disabilities will also swirl down the drain.

About 1,000 children will be pushed out of Head Start, 2,300 fewer low-income students will get help paying for college and 330 fewer students will be provided work-study jobs to help pay for their higher education.

More than $2 million in environmental funding will be lost - this is money that pays for efforts to protect the state's air and water.

Nearly $300,000 in law enforcement grants will go away.

About $781,000 in job-search assistance funds will evaporate.

Up to 500 vulnerable children will lose access to child care and roughly 2,500 others will not get vaccinations for a host of diseases like mumps, measles, tetanus, hepatitis B, rubella, whooping cough and influenza.

Then there is the military in Arizona. About 10,000 civilian military workers face mandatory furloughs. Collectively, they will lose about $52 million in pay.

Should we wonder what impact 52 million fewer dollars will have on the local economy?

Sequesters by definition do not discriminate. They were first created in 1985 in an effort to encourage Congress to play nice. It worked for nearly 30 years.

It worked until Congress became a lot like eighth grade, where being loud equals being right and where bullies push aside the weaker kids - until a bigger bully comes along.

And just like eighth grade, finding blame instead of solutions is the norm in D.C. these days.

According to a recent poll from the Pew Research Center, half of Americans intend to blame congressional Republicans when the sequester goes into effect while only 31 percent would point the finger at Democrats and President Barack Obama.

But it's not just Congress that's misbehaving. Most of the country is back in eighth grade.

According to the same poll, we're not paying attention in class. Just 27 percent of those polled said they heard "a lot" about the sequester and 29 percent said they had heard "nothing at all."

To be fair, more Republicans than Democrats are aware of sequestration, 36 percent to 23 percent. Of those 36 percent, 54 percent want the automatic spending cuts to go into effect with no debate whatsoever, while 38 percent favor delaying them lest the cuts set back a deeply wounded but slowly recovering economy.

So when is a deadline not really a deadline? When Congress imposes one on itself.

On March 27, Congress must approve its so-called continuing resolution in order to fund the federal government. Expect the two sides to forge a new deal at the 11th hour.

In the meantime, this tiring, ongoing game of political brinksmanship will needlessly worry millions of Americans who will lose something significant through this sequester - but not all of us.

Because there are exemptions to the rules of sequestration: First off, don't expect the country's national security apparatus to lose a dime. Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to face that nightmare.

Medicaid and Social Security are also exempt, but Medicare is not.

Can you guess what else is exempt from sequestration? Congressional salaries. Of course they are.

Where's a spitball when you need one?

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: KDM online reader only

"whacked out drug addicts on the radio."

You mean like back in the good old days when many Rock n' Roll FM DJ's and even the station managers smoked marijuana? LOL!

Rush Limbaugh was recovering from a surgery and he admitted on the air that unfortunately he did not realize that he became addicted to pain pills. So big deal, he is only human.

Back to another reply, how come you are no longer the editor of that magazine, and if your former show is so popular, then why is not rebroadcast on Saturday morning on bounce radio dot net?

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Schmo


Just because you keep repeating that sequestration was President Obama's idea doesn't make it so.

Sequestration is the political ransom President Obama and the Democrats paid in order to get the Republicans to release the debt ceiling they took hostage in the summer of 2011. The choice was sequestration or the destruction of the full faith and credit of the U.S. Some choice.

Those who voted for sequestration on the Democratic side and the president who signed the deal hedged their bets that sequestration would be so bad that Republicans and Democrats alike would come back to the table and refine exactly where they would make the cuts. Unfortunately it was a bad bet and now we are faced with another manufactured crisis. But if you think there is no consequences to sequestration you are in for a wake up call very soon. Just read this article about the consequences to Arizona alone.

Personally, I believe that sequestration ought to be repealed in its entirety. While we have a long term debt problem we have a short term jobs problem. You do not grow the economy by enacting austerity measures when so many are out of work. Grow the economy first, and when times are better you can cut unnecessary programs. Overall, though if the economy is doing well, the deficits will shrink on their own without the need for massive cuts or major tax increases.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Old Desert Woman

Our country is being pirated by those who want control and to steal. These pirates are not doing the peoples business. Government is here to protect and provide services for the public. I'm not talking about leachers here, I'm talking about the working poor, the average hard working individual. Instead we have power struggles from these pirates and we can't fire these people. The Congress gets paid even when they take constant recesses. Those who are the working poor are run over by big business that has more entitlements than all poor welfare people. Big oil, large factory farms, banks, facebook, the rich get all kinds of loopholes and pay little or no taxes. It's time for this to stop so we can get our country back belonging to the people. Many people shut out the government because they are so discusted they can't bear to listen to all the fakers make excuses .

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Oh dear Doug:

You have drunk the Koolaid. You said "according to the White House". Right there, you have nailed what is wrong with your list. You are assuming the White House is not lying. They are of course, especially about sequestration.

Let's discuss the latest. First, we cannot survive forever on obama type spend and borrow policies. But this sequestration, obama's idea, is a fraud.

Obama has just let thousands of illegals out on "supervised release". Like someone later will go round them all back up. That of course will never happen.

But the interesting part of this story. Obama never even waited until Friday to see what happens. HE DID IT AHEAD OF TIME, THEN LET'S EVERYONE THINK HE COULDN'T STOP IT - HE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.
SEQUESTRATION (his idea!!) caused this and it was the idea of the Republicans he tells the low info voters.

Yes, the king has lost his marbles. He is terrified sequestration will not cause the sky to fall as he has been telling the low infos and then what will he do. The low infos might start seeing the truth about him - that he is a liar and a fraud.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Spit Baller

Oh, for heaven’s sake, McMurdo -- “Where’s a spitball when you need one?”, you ask. Why, my good reporter, your very work-in-trade creates one of the finest oral assault platforms on the planet.

I mean, since the sixth grade I knew that a page of newsprint folded neatly into a shirt pocket was all one needed to bombard the unsuspecting with the full range of “Hardballs” to “Super-Mooshies”. For fast re-loading, the fast absorption qualities of newsprint just can’t be topped.

As frosting, the ammo came wrapped with a convenient launching platform to boot -- now that’s what I call packaging. And, with a little tape and a piece of flexible plastic, one could transform the rubber launching device into a high capacity shotgun that could spray with a staggering array from sports, editorial and comic sections combined.

So, look no farther than your own journalistic hard-copy masterpieces, my good reporter. The true fire-power lies hidden in plain sight before you. “Munch and load” -- was a great sixth-grade motto of yesteryear.

Now getting an e-spitball past the editor’s delete key -- now that’s the new e-challenge. Hmmm . . . maybe an AP style e-spitball . . . yeah, that’s it.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Why Are Republican so Unreasonable?

Just hope all those seniors waiting for their government provided checks - social security, disability, veterans benefits, medicare, medicaid, etc will get their walkers and their government supplied scooters reared up to protest when things come to a screeching halt. Just remember the President has asked repeated for reasonable bills to cross his desk - instead the Tea Bag dominated House had sat around - no actually I think most of the time they have been on recess.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Personally I don't care, government from the smallest town to the country's federal level have wasted money for too long and both party's have created a debt that we can't pay off. I say let the country completely crash. Maybe America could be sold to China to pay off our loans from them, Americans could become China's new minority.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Dweller

I would like to just say that while "Chicken Little" flies around the country to tell us that the sky is falling on March 1st. Here is an interesting article that I found that actually puts this into some perspective. While sequestration is not what we wanted to happen, it is not going to sink the ship. These past few days have been nothing less than a giant scare campaign. Now maybe after this Friday, our President will really have to get down and do some real budgeting with Congress. Both sides need to figure out a true fiscal way to deal with this. We all know that just cutting things is not the answer, but we also know that increasing the government's ability to continue to spend without limits will not help us either.


Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ahh, Doug, don't you know that the automatic cuts won't mean anything or cause any problems? You need to pay attention to the Right Wing Loon Shouting Heads on FAUX News and whacked out drug addicts on the radio.

The simple fact that all the Republicans need to do is just agree to stop it - but they have a long tradition of obstructionism to live up to.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Doing Research

Yeah, the impact is larger for Arizona because it's a welfare state that draws more Federal money than it pays in.

Congress is really concerned with party politics because they're bad losers, and the result is AZ's economy becomes the collateral damage.

But God forbid you question the motives of Republicans because you think only they will protect gun laws. If you smart people would get the NRA to back Democratic candidates, like they did in 2008, then you wouldn't have anything to worry about.

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