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‘Sequester’ disaster arrives – just as predicted Comment on this post ↓
August 27th, 2013 by Warren Swil

Damage from indiscriminate

budget cuts immense, growing

William B. Traxler is Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Click image to enlarge.

AS MANY HAVE PREDICTED, a disaster of gargantuan proportions is unfolding before our eyes as the effects of the so-called budget “sequester” ripple across America.
The damage from indiscriminate budget cuts its widespread and obvious.
If you look no further, check the editorial in Monday’s editions of The New York Times: Federal Courts in Crisis
The Editorial Board begins with this stunning revelation:
“Observers of the federal court system cannot recall the last time such a thing has happened, if it ever has. Chief judges in 86 of the 94 Federal District Courts around the country– more than half of them Republican appointees – have now joined to sound an alarm about the grave damage to the nation’s justice system caused by years of flat financing followed by Washington’s lunatic across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.”
Lunatic is precisely correct. And the lunatics responsible are ALL the Republican members of both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

IT IS NOT JUST the courts facing a budgetary emergency: Head Start, the beloved preschool program is too. So is the entire defense sector, and the national economy, according to a new study by the Congressional Budget Office.
In a July 25 letter to Rep. Chris van Hollen, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, CBO Director Douglas W. Elmdorf writes:
“In total, by CBO’s estimates, canceling the automatic spending reductions effective Aug. 1 would increase outlays relative to those under current law by $14 billion in fiscal year 2013 and by $90 billion in fiscal year 2014.

The announcement U.S. Courts of an “emergency” caused by the sequester. Click image to enlarge.

“Those changes would increase the level of real inflation adjusted gross domestic product by 0.7 percent and increase the level of employment by 0.9 million in the third quarter of calendar year 2014 relative to the levels projected under current law.”
In other words, the sequester is lowering GDP significantly already, with worse to come. And it is increasing unemployment already, with worse to come.
Thank the GOP in Congress.
It is their intransigence that is to blame. They are living in a fantasy world in which drastic, across the board cuts to federal programs have no real world consequences.
But they do! And they are!
Back to the federal court system. In abn announcement July 13 on the US Federal Courts site Funding Crisis Strikes Throughout Federal Courts, Judge Tells Senate we learn:
“A federal judge today told a Senate panel that the number of personnel working in U.S. courts is at the lowest level since 1999, and that federal court clerks and probation and pretrial services staff could be furloughed for close to 70,000 hours this fiscal year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s announcement of the July 23 hearing on the sequester. Click image to enlarge.

“If sufficient funding is not provided to the courts, we cannot provide the people of the United States the type of justice system that has been a hallmark of our liberty throughout the nation’s history,” Judge Julia S. Gibbons, Chair of the Budget Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States, said.
Gibbons was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Bankruptcy and the Courts on July 23 at a hearing entitled:
“Sequestering Justice: How the Budget Crisis is Undermining Our Courts”

MEANWHILE, the Head Start preschool program is also facing disaster. In Head Start Shows Consequences of Sequester Cuts ABC40 WGGB reports:
“Countless government programs have been dealing with dramatic funding cuts since the sequestration took effect earlier this year.
Head Start is no exception.
“These are the most devastating cuts that we’ve ever seen – the sequestration, ” says Janis Santos, a 40-year employee and executive director of Head Start Springfield, Mass.”
The organization is cutting left and right. Underprivileged children around the nation are suffering.
Does the GOP in Congress care? Don’t hold your breath.
But, just perhaps, they do care about the defense industry; after all, defense contractors are among their biggest campaign contributors.

The article in National Defense on the impact the sequester is having on the defense industry. Click image to enlarge.

So perhaps they will pay attention to a small item in the September issue of National Defense Magazine, the industry’s publication, by no means a liberal organization.
In Sequester Impact: More Than Meets the Eye Lawrence P. Farrell Jr. writes:
“The U.S. defense market is now showing signs of a beginning slide. Recall that the sequester cuts for (fiscal year) 2013 were $37 billion.
In 2014, the sequester would amount to $52 billion but the outlay hit grows by 50 percent to $30 billion. What this means is that, over time the pain will grow. (emphasis added)
“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has already laid his marker that involuntary reductions in workforce in 2014 remain a real possibility if BCA and sequester are not adjusted.”
LET US ALLOW THE “fantasy” believers the last word. From reporting Aug. 12 at Media Matters in Devastating Sequestration Cuts Are A “Success” Free Of “Negative Consequences” we learn the views of Rupert Murdoch’s surrogate.
 “The Wall Street Journal editorial board’s Stephen Moore falsely claimed that the drastic budget cuts known as sequestration have had “none of the anticipated negative consequences,” when in reality economists have explained that the cuts have had devastating effects on economic growth, jobs, and programs for low-income Americans.
“Private forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers estimates “sequestration would cost roughly 700,000 jobs (including reductions in armed forces) …”
Also in the report, it adds:
 “The American Prospect noted on March 6: Moody’s Analytics predicts a hit to real gross domestic product of 0.5 percent, just a hair below Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s prediction 0.6 percent fiscal drag.”
The most recent CBO estimate cited above raises the ante to a 0.7 hit on GDP. It is growing, seemingly, by the day.
There are none so blind as those who will not see (not a Swil-licious original: this proverb dates back to the 15th century).
The numbskulls in Congress that allowed the sequester to happen, and keep doing nothing about it must be as blind as bats.

 

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2 Responses  
  • Tony Swil writes:
    August 27th, 2013

    The US Government simply cannot keep on spending more than its
    revenues permit, no matter how rich and powerful the country may be.
    It is up to the Executive and each governmental dept to ensure that the minimal cuts do not effect essential services adversely.
    In most large organizations it is possible to pare expenses by 5% and often this can have the effect of improving productivity.

    • Jack van Dijk writes:
      August 27th, 2013

      Mr. Swil, I appreciate your sentiment, but at least two Nobel price winners of economics (Stiglitz and Krugman) have pointed out patiently that a government is not like a business (or a family). In a government/a society your debt is my income, so goes the short and simplified logic. After much reading I understand that. Their point is that every government/society has to carry a certain amount of debt, when the society’s economy expands, the debt has to expand. Other than that, the US$ is the world’s reserve currency, that also contributes to this point. No I am not an economist, but I recommend reading “Why nations fail” and “Capitalism in crisis” in that sequence.
      This should be a civilized discussion.


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