Forget the sequester. If you're Chuck Schumer, there are ways around it. Consider the recent example of a U.S. Marine Corps band cancelling its scheduled performance at a St. Patrick's Day parade due to the "sequester"--and Chuck Schumer's successful "push" for the band to come anyway.
This week Paul Ryan’s House Budget Committee is set to release its fiscal year 2014 budget, which promises to balance Uncle Sam’s books in 10 years. Ryan’s offering will elicit lamentations from the usual quarters of the mainstream media: House Republicans have lurched sharply to the right, they have abandoned the pragmatic principles of their forebears, they are now totally unfit to govern.
One can expect a fair amount of exaggeration, spin, and dissembling regarding the effects of the sequester. No claims, so far, that Americans are chewing hides and lacing their boots with the sinews of game they have killed and eaten in order to survive. President Obama did warn, however, that janitors who clean the Capitol would be hit hard.
With the White House closing its doors to public tour groups in order to save money for the sequester, it's worth remembering some of the other costs the White House incurs annually.
Like the "Chief Calligrapher," Patricia A. Blair, who has an annual salary of $96,725, and her two deputies, Debra S. Brown, who gets paid $85,953 per year, and Richard T. Muffler, who gets paid $94,372 every year.
Buildings in the same complex as Vice President Joe Biden's official residence in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Naval Observatory, will be closing doors to tour groups due to the mandatory budget cuts of sequestration.
Stephen D. Abney, the chief public affairs official for the Army’s Joint Munitions Command, recently sent a message to all 6,000 employees he speaks for: Don’t criticize President Barack Obama or any political party to members of the press. The message was received by civilian contractors as well.
Inside the beltway, there is a pervasive sense of impending doom. The rest of the country may not much care, but sequestration is here. According to warnings by the Obama administration, failure to avert these automatic spending cuts will lead to planes falling from the skies, bridges collapsing, federal penitentiaries moving to a voluntary self-incarceration policy, and the Jersey Shore returning to the airwaves.
Poor kids to go without lunches and vaccinations, meat sold without being inspected, firemen and cops laid off, illegal aliens released from prison, 17,200 teachers fired, airports closed, long lines at airports, and 700,000 workers laid off. Egypt in ferment? Syria at war? Austerity-ridden Greece? Nope. The United States of America as described by President Obama now that the sequester, an across-the-board cut in some domestic and military spending, is in effect.
In a sharply written statement, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama blasts President Obama for campaigning and not governing. He calls Obama's response to the sequestration "the most cynical behavior I have seen during my time in Washington."
President Obama warned that the pain from the sequestration cuts "will be real":
"What's important to understand is that not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away," he said. "The pain, though, will be real. Beginning this week, many middle class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways."