The Idiots Did It. We’re Sequestered.

This is the low point in my time in the United States Congress. I can not tell you how ashamed I am.  

Senator Lindsay Graham, talking about the sequester.

The Republican/Democrat game of chicken went to the next round last night when Congressional stonewalling forced President Obama to make good on his threats and sign the sequester order.

We’re sequestered. The Republican idiots and the Democratic idiots drove us over the cliff. 

What does this mean to you and me? 

I’m going to give you two replies. One will be what I’ve heard is going to happen to Oklahoma (and by derivation, to everyone else.) The second will be a more official summary.

1. Oklahoma. What I’ve been told is that the sequester will take about .05% out of Oklahoma’s state budget. I’m expressing it in percent because that will make it easier for you to compute the effect on your state. Since so many of these things are based on population, that will be more accurate for you. I’m guessing, but I would imagine that the percentage will be similar in other states, while the numbers will (due to their higher populations) be higher. What that means in Oklahoma is several hundred million dollars which we will have to make up out of our relatively small state budget.

While that may not sound like a lot of money, (by government standards) one of the things that makes it hard to handle is that we are already well into the budget process. Coming as it does as an unplanned-for hit, it will be harder to make it up. Also, a good bit of this will ultimately be off-loaded on parts of the private sector such as the hospitals, who will have to handle the problems it creates in people’s lives out of their budgets. There will also be a hit on the economy, which will result in lower tax revenues, which could result in another round of this further down the line.

Oklahoma has fared relatively well in the recent economic downturn because we are an oil producing state and oil prices have been high. However, our tax revenues will fall if people buy less because of this sequester.

Our military bases, such as Tinker Air Force Base, are predicting that they will have to furlough people in order to make up their part of the shortfall that they expect from the sequester. I believe other government agencies will be similarly impacted. This, of course, will also affect tax revenues and the overall economy.

I think we will see similar things all across the country, which is why I’m am detailing this here.

2. What the sequester does. 

President Obama was forced to sign the sequestration order as a result of Congress’ failure to act. This means that unless the members of Congress come back from their long weekend off with a new attitude, the sequester will take affect.

The sequester totals around $85 billion which will come out of the budget over the next 10 months. Non defense programs will be cut by 10% and defense programs will be cut by 13%.

Most government programs will be cut. Social security, Children’s health insurance, food stamps and Medicaid will not be cut. Medicare won’t be cut, but payments to providers will shrink by 2%.

Most other government programs will feel the cut, with furloughs predicted for agencies ranging from the FAA to the Bureau of Prisons.

It’s a little difficult to predict exactly what will happen since the President and the Republican leadership differ in what they are telling us and I think both of them are spinning things to bolster their case. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn says that agencies have plenty of space in their budgets to handle the cuts. From what I know of government agencies, I think he’s probably right. However, from what I know of government agencies, I doubt that they will do this.

I expect more gamesmanship, which I expect means that agencies will not “handle” the cuts at all, and you and I will end up paying for all this.

The worst of the sequester will not hit until April, since, by law, the government furloughs can’t start until employees have been given 30 days’ notice. If this goes on long enough for that to happen, we’ll start feeling it in all sorts of ways, including a sudden, powerful drag on the economy. For more information, go here and here.

In the meantime, as I said earlier, the president was forced to sign the sequester orders and Congress has gone off on a long weekend after a hard week of doing nothing good for the country. I’ve been through legislative fights, and I would guess they need a cooling-off period. The best thing they can do for all of us is go soak their swollen heads.

As for you and me, we have to decide for ourselves if this is how we want our government to work. We keep getting choices between bad and worse at election time. As a consequence, we’ve elected a whole Congress of party hacks who do not care enough about this country to do the nation’s business.

I have never and I will never tell anyone to change their party. I have always, and I will always tell you that you need to demand that whichever party you are in clean up its act and stop giving us puppet people for elected officials. 

If you want to chat with your Congressional delegation about this, you can find their phone numbers and email addresses here.

We elected these people. We can un-elect them.

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  • Bill S

    Is the President right when he says that the Republicans refused to budge on closing tax loopholes for the rich? If he is then I would never vote Republican again.

    • Ted Seeber

      As if a eugenicist atheist would ever vote Republican to begin with- but since I’ve never voted Republican for economic reasons, I’m one to talk. I can barely stand to vote for them for pro-life reasons.

      And I can’t vote Democrat. Where do I go to renounce my citizenship again?

      • LadyBird

        Ted, how you feel about Republicans is how I feel about the Dems. Exactly!!!! Can barely stand the sight of them. Now do you feel better? We cancelled each other out and there is no solution.

  • Mike

    I am with you on the RCC but if you think 0.05% is a big deal we are not on the same planet. I say this as affectionately as possible. If the US can’t agree to SLOW the growth of its debt it will condemn generations to work for not much and the world to a generation of slow growth and this will hurt billions of people. The US MUST stop racking up debt. Greece and the EU are learning this the hard way.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      My concern isn’t about the cut itself, per se, it’s the manner of the cut. We do need to reduce spending, but we don’t need to do it by running the economy into the side of a wall. We also don’t need this constant yelling back and forth and refusal to work for the good of the country. The manner in which these cuts are taking place will cause dislocation. This is not about good government, or governance at all. It’s about proving who’s the manliest man (I’m cleaning that up, btw) on the hill.

  • Oregon Catholic

    I will impose my own term limits from now on. I will no longer return anyone to congress for a second term – ever. It is the careerism and partisanship that is the problem. It takes too much money to get elected, so that candidates are beholden to special interests and the party machine before they ever set foot in DC. They have stopped representing us at all. Maybe if we all did the same thing the louts will realize there is no future for them in DC and we can go back to electing statesmen/women to do the work of the people.

    • Mike

      If, if, if. But we know the truth: 90% of people don’t care about politics or economics and like free stuff. It’s that simple. Would you say no? People say they would and then don’t. WE are responsible, not the parties, they are represenative of us; as much as we say they aren’t they are. We don’t care about future generations, fiscal problems, unemployment, debt because we want free stuff and more and more and more of it. BTW this is the entire western world not just the US. But the day of reckoning is coming. Young people are told don’t worry about it “rich” people will pay for it only we know who the rich are; they are not the millionairs and billionaires they are the people making $150,000 runnning a few small tire companies or the guy who owns 2 auto dealerships or the women who owns 3 cup cake stores or a young man who has 2 small rental properties. It’s these people who we seem to want to discourage and that is insanity.

      • Oregon Catholic

        If every person refused to return any incumbant starting with the next election cycle we could have every current congressional member gone by Jan 2019. The partisan gridlock would be virtually gone after 2016 as only 33 incumbant senators would be left and all reps would be on the second cycle of all new electees. Don’t say we can’t run a congress with all new reps every 2 years. We can when people who are motivated by the right reasons are elected.

  • pagansister

    I’m a registered Independent for a reason——I can’t fully support either of the major political parties—-unreal behavior on the part of the people elected to supposedly do what is right for the people who put them in office. They remind me of children who can only see their side and have NO idea what working together actually means—give and take. I’m just totally frustrated. Now they are on VACATION? Really?

  • Jessica Hoff

    Maybe they could stay on vacation -unpaid, and you could get your money back on them?

    • Rebecca Hamilton


  • neenergyobserver

    Ii haven’t said much about this, even on my own blog but, I reflect what others have said. We absolutely have to get spending under control, this is a terrible way to do it-we could find this much waste and fraud and another $85 Billion in stupid spending. The fact of the matter as I see it is that neither party will even attempt to slow down the gravy train in any other way.

    That does lead the states holding the bag but, short of replacing Congress (a very good idea), how can we get it done? I don’t know, we have a president seemingly hell-bent on spending us into oblivion with a party that agrees, and an opposition party too pusillanimous, and place seeking to attempt to win. I’m becoming more and more afraid there is no solution.

  • Peggy Coffey

    Yes we have to get spending under control, but Obama refuses to touch any of his pet projects, all the social engineering free stuff, money for planned parenthood, money to unions and pay offs to friends that scratch his back. Will he stop Michelle from vacationing in remote beautiful places, of course not. He didn’t think twice about jetting around on Air Force One screeching about how the Repubs refuse to close loopholes. And he is still planning to go around the country telling everyone how terrible the Repubs are, while continuing golf vacations, parties at the White House and tax breaks for his movie folks. Instead of really cutting the fat out of the budget he tries to scare people with scare tactics that have been proven to be lies. He is not worthy of the presidential seal.

  • Nobody

    It’s only 2 1/2 %. Cut Congress’s salaries by 10% off the top, eliminate travel expenses, freeze new hiring, easy peasy. Private companies do this sort of thing all the time. It’s just up to the president to make it so. It is his personal choice to starve Granny and Baby and to let women die on the floor of clinics rather than to do the sane things that private companies do all the time. I don’t blame Congress; the R’s tried to submit 15 budgets during O’s first term and all were stonewalled in the Senate. Bipartisanship, really? What we really need is a leader at the top, which the person presently occupying that position will never likely become.

    • Ted Seeber

      Of course, by the same argument Private Business could easily absorb 2.5% more taxes and make the entire argument moot.

  • Amy

    We should demand that Congress undergo ITs OWN CONCLAVE. Lock the door, seal the doors, nobody in or out, no showers, no telephones, sleep in cots, do away with all of the trappings until they get it RIGHT!!! STart a new tradition..even if it takes weeks….and come out shaking hands and setting the precident that all of you can be civil. Why not even pray, or are you too ashamed? Frankly, most if not all of you disgust me and should resign. God have mercy on us and our country, and for our own share in not offering prayers, living godly lives and ignoring Our Supreme God in Heaven and His Laws. This country is going down…

  • pagansister

    Interesting idea, Amy—locking Congress in and forcing them to actually work things out—together—a word they don’t seem to comprehend!

  • Son

    I say we start in 2014 and keep going from there.

  • RY25L

    Just what kind of turf protection is going on here re cutting everybody else but conveniently protecting his own state’s revenue and employment stakes in this sequester b.s. which is HUGE in this case re the FAA in OKC and its contractors.

    This is the kind of budget discussions with give and take having all 50 states participate on the floor of the House/Senate or in committee that should be conducted instead of issuing personal wish list memos to the FAA to back door this crap. Also, let’s have Coburn flush out ALL of his expenditures for his office in exactly the same tone and manner he is demanding that the FAA reveal.

    This is the kind of discussion/legislative debate that should be held in front of the full House/Senate in normal circumstances but the GOP wants abnormal to be the rule of the day. I hope ALL the other House reps ALSO send a memo of their pet wish list to the FAA as Coburn has done…

    Chaos and anarchy leading to b.s. extra constitutional ways of conducting our country’s business….this is conservatism?? Yeah, sure, you betcha, Tommy. Your momma would be ashamed of you for trying to fool the adults in the room..

    Where’s the 20 Mule Team Borax beard, BTW… were looking pretty scruffy for a while there but I guess when your constituents and businesses are taking a hit then you gotta look serious (squeaky clean conservative) even though you idiots caused all this to happen in the first place. You are all worse than Taliban terrorists…..

    wasn’t that act of domestic terrorism in OKC some years ago enough shock and awe for the many, many FED, military, and DOD employees in Oklahoma or is this sequester trick your own home guard wild eyed patriot teabagger scaled down version of stomping on them once again?

    Lots of people got killed and many still have injuries from that horrible day but you Tommy Coburn don’t care …you got sequester on the brain.You got Obama hate on your brain…

    ..The heck with your own in-state constituents who bring in an enormous amount of revenue into your state. You and your GOP buddies are dangerous hypocrites.

    OH but hold on a minute…this sequester actually happened…whoa Nelly…..something you never expected to happen and NOW you are sending the FAA memos to attempt to tailor this thing so it doesn’t affect all the FEDs and private govt. contractors in your state…Whoa Nelly…hold the horses….This is why you issued that memo, isn’t it….??? You went too far with your thug GOP radicals this time around!!! This is why you had to shave that skank beard off your face so we could see what you look like again….

    You should be impeached and run out of the state. You are an embarrassment no matter how you now package your suggestions to the FAA which could have been done in the open air of the Senate/House floor a long, long time ago. But that wasn’t dramatic enough for your foul tastes…

    Shame on you…Shame on you.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Anthony, I am actually a Democratic elected official; have been for 17 years now.