The extent to which our nation is dysfunctional and ungovernable is reflected in the apprehension and fear that have ensued over the prospect of a mere $85 billion (2.3%) cut in a mammoth, bloated federal budget if the "sequester" takes effect on March 1. The foreboding over its infliction stems from the fact that although many government agencies and entitlement programs are exempt from the cuts, there is to be a disproportionate impact on others, including those that perform vital services that keep the nation and the economy afloat, and over the fact that the bizarre nature of the maneuver precludes agency heads from making reasonable decisions as to what shall be cut, rather reductions in spending must be made across the board.
One of the most bizarre and illogical provisions in the scheme is that it would mandate layoffs of air traffic controllers and Transportation Safety Administration personnel, which could trigger flight delays, canceled flights, more time on the tarmac for passengers awaiting clearance to take off or land, and the closure of smaller airports.
The sequester was the president's idea, though Republicans embraced and voted for it, neither side believing that it would ever come to close to taking effect because of how devastating it would be, yet with the nation just days from its activation, there seems to be no hope of avoiding it, no chance for compromise or either side "blinking."
The president could easily end the drama now by agreeing to modest spending reductions, but he will not do so because he insists on extracting a pound of flesh from Republicans, the enactment of a new round of tax increases, this less than two months after he secured the acquiescence of the GOP to significant tax hikes on higher income Americans.
President Obama says that he wants to eliminate loopholes in the Tax Code, which sounds great on its face. How about a deal to not only eliminate loopholes, but to blow up the Tax Code entirely, eliminating the tens of thousands of pages of Internal Revenue Service Code gobbledygook in favor of a simple and equitable method of taxation which does not tie the nation's people into knots every year? It is interesting to note that we Americans are so busy today that we must always "multi-task". We cannot drive a vehicle without conducting a telephone conversation (some characters with no regard for the safety of themselves or others not only have their phones in one hand while driving, but enjoy a cigarette with the other (how about a cocktail as well?)), but we have to drop everything to single-mindedly devote hours of misery to compiling information to prepare our tax returns, a vast expenditure of time, money, and effort for nothing of value.
It is difficult to determine which major political party will bear the brunt of the blame if and when the sequester takes effect, but one thing is certain: our elected officials do not do the people's business. There comes a point at which the argument, "I am doing everything I can to help you. The problem is with those on the other side of the aisle" wears thin.
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