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February 25, 2013

We should have seen sequester coming

The Daily Star

---- — So, imagine a guy just standing there, oblivious to the fact that someone is sneaking up behind him with the intention of hitting him in the back of the head with a blackjack.

In this case, the guy standing there is the appallingly ignorant American public, and the fiend about to smack him is Congress. The blackjack is the “sequester” sure to go into effect Friday unless there is an unexpected outbreak of logic and common sense in the nation’s capital.

According to a survey last week by the Pew Research Center and USA Today, only 27 percent of Americans say they have heard “a lot” about the sequester, 43 percent say they have heard “a little” and 29 percent have heard “nothing at all.”

The survey also showed that should an agreement to avert the crisis not be reached, 49 percent of Americans would blame congressional Republicans, and 31 percent would blame President Barack Obama.

As Obama won’t be running for any office again, this is a much more worrisome statistic for House Republicans — all of whom will be up for re-election in 2014, and for various senators who will have to face the voters next year or in 2016.

The sequester was agreed to as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as the debt ceiling compromise, because Democrats and Republicans couldn’t agree on how to finance our government. The thinking was to propose such mindless, awful cuts to civilian and military budgets that no sane group of people could ever allow them to take effect.

But lately, Congress has been anything but sane. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction couldn’t agree on how to cut $1.5 trillion over 10 years before the original Dec. 23, 2011, deadline, which was then was moved to March 1.

Obama has been taking his advocacy of a balance of cuts and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy to the people. Republicans don’t agree with his plans, but everyone with the exception of those on the far right acknowledge that the president was correct about the effects of a sequester.

He mentioned drastic diminution to our military preparedness, layoffs and furloughs of emergency responders, border patrol and FBI agents, federal prosecutors and air traffic controllers, among others.

“Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off,” Obama said. “Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

This blackjack to the back of the head and possible recession will likely result in a serious economic wound that is self-inflicted. After all, we were the ones who sent those characters to represent us in Washington.