Back in January after the whole “Fiscal Cliff” debacle in Washington, I wrote about how we’d face the exact same man-made problems later in the year, unless Congress found a way to resolve its ideological issues relating to cooperation and work on reducing the deficit. Well, it didn’t happen. As surprising as it may be, we’re now standing on the precipice of yet another budgetary showdown over the exact same thing. Well, at least the cable networks are happy.
The Sequester is a bipartisan agreement entered into last year to force both sides to the table in the Budget Control Act of 2011 if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed to reach a compromise. It was comprised of a series of cuts that would be so broad and encompassing that Republicans and Democrats would have to negotiate lest their respective gold geese end up on the chopping block. It was designed to be unpalatable, unforgiving, and to make sure that lawmakers found a way to fund our commitments to our defense and social obligations while reducing the deficit. These cuts didn’t just spring up overnight, but have been years in the making after the failure of the super committee. This means Congress now has to work together with the President to find a solution.
Now, it may seem obvious that the best way to do this would be moderate revenue increases coupled with trimming parts of the budget, but that would make too much sense. Instead of going the moderate route (something our Congressional Republican Caucus is rarely accused of) it is back to the “no new tax” song and dance that’s become so commonplace. Of course, if you’re unwilling to raise taxes, you have to be willing to cut programs. If you’re unwilling to cut defense programs… Well, then you’ve kind of run out of options.
Republicans in Congress are out of options. That is why they’ve kicked the can down the road twice now and will likely do it again. At this point, there is very little left to cut that isn’t defense spending or critical obligations and programs. The “pork” that the Right is quick to demonize is an extremely small amount of the budget and is almost statistically irrelevant in the face of these cuts. That’s not to say that there isn’t pork spending programs which couldn’t be done away with. I’m sure there are and I’m sure we’ve got programs in Gwinnett County that don’t seem like “pork” but ask people in Alabama or California and they might disagree.
We need to find a solution this week. There has to be a compromise which balances both new sources of revenue with spending cuts. President Obama has been forced into a constant campaign cycle, much like Ronald Reagan, because Republicans refuse to work with him on a plan and criticize any plan he puts forward. Republicans have refused to look at anything but social programs. Nothing will be acceptable to them but President Obama adopting their plan. Until they decide to start governing by looking at corporate tax loopholes and the need to invest in our population (smart growth in education, transportation and, gasp, defense) it’ll be what it is.
Act childish if you want but if Congress chooses to balk and let the Sequester go through, expect the repercussions to come down on your heads. Contributing to this monthly man-made crisis cycle that we’re growing accustomed to isn’t going to win you an election in 2014.
Reprinted from 5th District State Sen. Curt Thompson's (D-Tucker) blog. Thompson represents parts of unincorporated Duluth, Norcross, Tucker, and Lawrenceville. Also, check the Senator out on Facebook and Twitter.