Sequester? What Sequester?

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

Households do it. Businesses do it. If there’s one outfit that could easily cut its budget, it’s one that spends other people’s money.

Federal government discretionary spending has doubled since 2001, most of it since 2009, yet the White House protests that a 2.2 percent budget cut will end life as we know it.

To reach an August 2011 deal raising America’s debt-ceiling limit before the 2012 general election, President Barack Obama proposed that Congress include a provision for automatic, across-the-board spending cuts – a "sequester" – to take effect March 1, 2013, if Congress couldn’t agree on a plan for targeted spending reductions.

Agreement wasn’t forthcoming, so sequestration will continue until lawmakers reach and Obama signs a budget agreement – assuming that’s possible.

Most Americans haven’t noticed sequestration, and markets surged on the prospect of improved national fiscal responsibility, so, in order to peddle his version of events, the president resorted to the only things he does well – campaigning and demagoguery.

Although sequestration was his idea, the president would have Americans believe that the first dollar cut, no matter where, is government’s most essential expenditure. In a cynical hustle for public support, Obama ordered cuts to highly visible programs.

Here are some federal expenditures that were cut and others that survived sequester:

Despite school children’s appeals, White House tours were canceled, but the United States quietly awarded nearly $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. News that the funds were given came only after Obama’s recent visit with authority leaders on the West Bank, a territory controlled by Hamas – a terrorist organization.

On sequestration day, the Air Force announced that, effective April 1, Air Force Thunderbird performances were canceled. Ditto the Navy’s Blue Angels. Two days later, Secretary of State John Kerry announced $250 million in U.S. assistance to Egypt, a country nominally controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. About $10 million annually would keep the Thunderbirds airborne.

The Obama administration continues to fund aid to Pakistan while cutting tuition assistance for U.S. soldiers. The FAA is closing ATC towers while hiring "community planners" – including one at an airport scheduled for a tower closure.

Even as Obama announced "mandated" sequester cuts affecting national park access and services, he used executive powers to designate five new national monuments.

House Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz complained that, because of sequester, her aides were unable to afford a "high-quality meal." She worried that her staff is being "priced out" of decent meals by House cafeteria price increases that lower "the quality of life" on Capitol Hill. No doubt parents all over America are admonishing their children: "Finish your dinner! Think of all the poor, starving staffers in the Rayburn Building!"

But taxpayers are still funding coffee, doughnuts, bottled water, snacks and catered food services for the same House offices where aides are "starving."
The administration continues a "partnership" with the Mexican government to "raise awareness" about food stamps among immigrants from that country, including illegals.

Vice President Joe Biden and his entourage just spent a million dollars for room nights in Paris and London, plus more than $300,000 in limo services. Biden’s only constitutional duty is to sit as President of the U.S. Senate – in Washington, DC. What was Biden even doing in Paris and London, especially following sequester?

Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal reported: "The White House employs three calligraphers, who cumulatively earn $277,000 a year. The (EPA) gave $141,000 to fund a Chinese study on swine manure. Part of a $325,000 National Science Foundation outlay went to building a robotic squirrel.

"The government gave a $3,700 grant to build a miniature street in West Virginia – out of Legos. It shelled out $500,000 to support specialty shampoo products for cats and dogs. A San Diego outfit got $10,000 for trolley dancing. The feds last year held 894 conferences that each cost more than $100,000 – $340 million altogether. But Mr. Obama is too broke to let American kids look around the White House."

Perhaps American school kids can’t visit the White House, but at least the kids who live there can go on pricey vacations. Sasha and Malia Obama enjoyed spring break at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and in Sun Valley, Idaho, their third and fourth swanky vacations of the year. Twenty taxpayer-funded Secret Service agents who once oversaw security for White House tours went with them.
If sequester really impoverished government, Obama might look to government employees for relief. Washington, D.C., radio station WTOP reported in March that federal employees owe $3.5 billion in delinquent taxes:

"About 312,000 employees owe the government a total of $3,519,410,517, according to the Federal Employee/Retiree Delinquency Initiative released on March 8 by the IRS."

The president could run a lot of White House tours on that kind of money.