Yet here we are in the unlikely situation soon of finding ourselves up the creek without a paddle, thanks to sequestration coming from a Congress and an administration near you.
When we have been savaged by a full sequester, we will have time to ponder how it came to this. For example, we might ponder this while waiting in a longer-than-usual security line at the airport for a flight canceled for a lack of air traffic controllers.
Sequestration. It sounds like something that Sasquatch dreamed up. After all, Sasquatch is not much for the greater community or the common good. He wants no restrictions on his freedom that might come with caring about the well being of his neighbors. His species just wants to walk the ridges bellowing nonsense and giving off foul odors, stopping only to insert big feet in mouth. In recent years, the beast has been sighted in the halls of Congress, lured there by the chance of doing nothing positive.
While small in number, Sasquatch — genus Gorilla Americanus Teapartyus — looms large, and his big footprints are all over the latest crisis.
Consider what is about to happen. Military readiness will be impaired. Vaccine and nutritional programs for women and children will have to be cut. Thousands of people will be laid off. Education funding will be reduced — and so on and so on, all the way to the poor house.
As there is nothing remotely conservative (or liberal) in taking an ax to cut the federal budget when a scalpel is required, and doing it just in time to kill the budding economic revival, it’s obvious these looming cuts are not the work of Homo sapiens of highly developed intelligence. This has to be Sasquatch’s doing.
That is true, too, of the process in which the fiasco unfolded. In 2011, a “supercommittee” was formed in Congress to trim at least $1.2 trillion from federal spending over 10 years in light of the long-term threat posed by the deficit. If agreement could not be reached, indiscriminate cuts would come into force, cuts so painful that no thinking person could contemplate them.
But then as now, thinking people were in short supply. Compromise turned out to be kryptonite to the 11 supermen and one superwoman on the supercommittee. Because they failed in their task, a situation that only a Sasquatch could love becomes reality Friday.
It’s not that cutting the deficit isn’t still important — it most certainly is — but this isn’t the way to do it. Kill jobs and you kill the economy. Kill the economy and the government is forced to spend more — or else spend less and invite widespread domestic distress, if not unrest.
Members of Congress who feel strongly that federal spending should be cut have a point, but it’s lost when their only remedy is to hold the government hostage unless they get their way. Like Sasquatch strolling through the forest, we lurch from one contrived emergency to the next — fiscal cliff one day, sequestration the next, debt ceiling after that. Enough already with the lurching.
Here’s an idea to break the cycle of extortion for members of political factions who want to change the nation: How about winning a presidential election? It’s a novel idea, to be sure, because the people provoking regular crises have forgotten who won last November.
This is what happens when people don’t read the newspaper enough. Just a reminder: Not only did President Barack Obama win re-election, but he won the popular vote of the American people. That fact demands to be respected.
The provocateurs think that because they kept control of the House, thanks to Mr. Gerrymander, they can do what they want. Actually not. Plenty of people like me want Congress to do its job and the president to work with it to come up with some sensible plan. Sequestration is an abomination.
We don’t care if congressional lawmakers made a sacred oath not to raise taxes at Grover Norquist’s urging. We think their oath of office to support and defend the Constitution and to faithfully discharge the duties of the office is more sacred. Please start faithfully discharging.
Unfortunately, things may get more hairy before they get better, as you would expect with the Sasquatch mentality involved.
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.