WASHINGTON, D.C., February 26, 2013 — Only in Washington, D.C do politicians from both parties manufacture a bogus crisis because they lack the courage to deal with a real crisis, and then blame each other for the manufactured crisis they both created.
President Obama pretends sequestration was not his idea. Republicans would like us to forget that they voted for it.
Both parties are behaving recklessly.
Typically when there is a crisis, presidents try to restore public confidence. Think back to March 4, 1933, when a newly elected Democratic President named Franklin Delano Roosevelt said to the American people: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself— nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Roosevelt tried to project calmness in the face of an economic storm. He sought to reassure the public that the country’s challenges will be met.
By contrast, at a time of a sequester crisis, albeit a phony one, President Obama has resorted to using sequestration as a stick to flog Republicans and scare Americans. Constantly releasing laundry lists of the scary effects of sequestration is more than issuing warnings. It is about using fear to prime the public into blaming Republicans for the mess.
According to President Obama, if sequester takes effect on March 1, “federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go.”
Seriously? We must be living on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises” when Bane blows open the prisons and releases all the convicts.
It gets worse.
Unemployment could climb back to 9 percent. Over 750, 000 jobs may be lost. 800, 000 Defense Department employees will be furloughed, and their salaries will be cut by 20 percent. Washington D.C, Virginia, and Maryland could lose $29 million in elementary and high school funding. Teachers will be laid off. National parks will be closed. Cancer research will be cut.
The Federal Aviation Administration will see $600 million in cuts. 47,000 FAA employees will be furloughed. Up to 100 control towers could be closed. Air traffic controllers will see cutbacks which will lead to more airport delays. So, for the frequent flyers that go in and out of JFK International Airport, San Francisco, La Guardia, or O’Hare, good luck.
All of this will happen because of an $85 billion across-the-board spending cut which amounts to one-half of 1 percent of GDP?
This is madness.
Instead of scaring the American people, can’t Congress pass legislation that will give federal agencies more flexibility to administer cuts that will not prevent children from getting vaccinated, and federal prosecutors from letting criminals go?
Is it that difficult to find $85 billion in spending cuts out of a $4 trillion budget? Why do our elected officials always govern with fear and drama?
Republicans pretend like they could balance the budget without more revenues. Democrats seem to think entitlements programs do not need reform. Both sides are recklessly using the American people as dispensable pawns that can be sacrificed for political victory.
Are Democrats acting more responsible than Republicans, or vice-versa? Maybe, but who cares?
There is nothing admirable about being just a little less stupid than the other guy.
Ayobami Olugbemiga is a graduate student in George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
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