Sequester woes: Congress needs a mom

Republicans and Democrats need to end the sibling rivalry, or I’m telling Mom.
Photo: Mom know neither one of you is innocent — AP

CHICAGO, March 8, 2013 — Time for the latest installment of Kitchen Counter Politics, this column’s occasional attempts to take what’s happening in the political arena and make it all a bit more relatable to the rest of us.

Previously, Kitchen Counter Politics compared the chaotic, right-back-where-you-started Obama/Boehner budgeting process to the popular children’s book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and likened Congress’ attempt to reduce the deficit to a sink full of dirty dishes.

So let’s take a look at what’s happening now, a year and a half later.

Wow. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

These days, the words “budget” and “deficit” have been joined by that rascal “sequester.” The common definition of sequester is to remove, separate, or isolate. Kind of like sending the troublemaker to the corner for a time-out.

State of the Union: Step aside, Mr. President. Mom should be in charge AP

Legally, though, sequester has a little more of an edge to it: “to remove temporarily from the possession of the owner; seize and hold, as the property and income of a debtor, until legal claims are satisfied.” Or in Mom-speak: “Until you pay for the lamp or the window or the budget deficit or whatever it is you broke, it’s coming out of your allowance.”

So basically, the sequester is removing money from all government budgets, pretty much across the board “until legal claims are satisfied.” The “legal claim,” in this case, is Congress’ responsibility to address our budget and deficit, and since that’s what we’re looking for, “sequester” is going to be around for a while.

Congress, they would like us to think, is trying to fix things. They would also like us to think that the whole mess is the other guy’s fault.

But Mom knows better. Mom knows no one is innocent and no one is wholly at fault. Mom also knows that no one is trying his or her best to fix things.

So what does Mom do?

Truth be told, Mom’s most appealing option is to buy a one-way ticket to Tahiti and sequester herself away from the whole mess. But aside from following Congress’ bad example of vacation timing, Tahiti would require dipping into the retirement savings.

Congress needs a time-out chair

Oh, so what. With the rising, uncontrolled costs of healthcare, that retirement savings is going to end up in the hands of hospital administrators anyway.

But she is Mom, and she realizes the damage caused by neglecting to lead by example. She’s in this for the long haul.

Mom has several options. Her mediating skills have been fine-tuned over the years, but these stubborn children have no intention of compromising. She could take away more privileges, but that just creates more resentment. She can’t beat the special interests at bribery, so that’s out.

One option would be to send them both to their room, which is about the only thing they share nicely anyway, and tell them they cannot come out until this is settled. Mom just better be prepared to carry a lot of meals up to that room.

Unfortunately, the Republicans and Democrats are not children. They are child-adults. You hope they hear you, and the majority of the country, when you tell them that the best way out of this is to compromise, but the problem with child-adults, whether they are in Congress or your home, is that you honestly cannot make them do anything they don’t want to do. If they don’t want to stay in their room, child-adults ignore you and their mess, and they leave.

However, while you can’t make child-adults stay, you can kick them out. That is what voting is all about. Congressional elections are still a ways away, but time wounds all heels. Or is it heals all wounds?

No, in this instance it’s more optimistic the first way.

Whether she had planned to previously or not, Julia Goralka will be standing in line to vote in her next Congressional election. Contact Julia via Facebook at www.facebook.com/julia.goralka or through the Ask Me A Question link above.


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Julia Goralka

In addition to her work at The Communities, Julia Goralka is a free-lance novel editor and has served as a volunteer board member or committee member for several local charitable organizations. Prior to writing and editing, Julia was the Division Coordinator for the interest rate derivatives marketing desk at a large financial institution based in Chicago.

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