The Conversation

Sequester: The Sequester was Obama's Idea.

Sequester Mania: Coburn Says Let's Cut the Zombie Apocalypse Training, Sno-Cone Machines and Underwater Robots

Feb 25, 2013 2:13 PM PT

Today, Senator Coburn sent another letter to the White House Office of Budget and Management and one to DHS with some suggested budget cuts to avoid layoffs and furloughs of essential government employees and programs. 

The OMB  letter outlines ten low priority government jobs that are being advertised on (including drivers for the State Department). Eliminating these ten jobs alone could save as much as $1.4 million. Those funds could be redirected toward  more essential jobs being targeted for sequestration.   The Senator has cut 7 full time positions in his own office over the past year.  A complete list of jobs can be found here.

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President Reveals Ark of the Covenant, Warns Sequester Would Slash Research

Feb 25, 2013 9:24 AM PT

Expecting to see that headline on an AP story any day now. It would go something like this:

This morning President Obama shocked the nation when he unveiled the Ark of the Covenant on the White House lawn. The President said he was revealing the artifact now because critical "Ark research funding" could be cut if the sequester was allowed to go into effect.

"It was never my plan to reveal to the American people that the Ark of the Covenant has been kept in a government laboratory for the past 75 years, but my hand was forced," the President said to a crowd of stunned White House pool reporters.

"For 75 years this incredible relic has been studied at a secure, undisclosed location. I believe that work is important and needs to continue. But Ark research funding may have to be slashed as a result of the Republican sequester plan.

"Do we really want the Ark to just collect dust in a storage warehouse? Doesn't it make more sense to ask the wealthiest Americans to do a little more?

A flurry of questions broke out from the assembled media but the President held up both hands to quiet them. "I can't answer all of your questions at this time, but rest assured we've had top men, top people, working on this," the President replied. "But that may not continue for much longer," he added.

With that, the President walked from the podium back to the White House. Four men in black jumpsuits returned the Ark to the wooden crate it had arrived in and quickly loaded it onto Marine One...

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Big Government's appetite grows with its reach

Feb 25, 2013 8:15 AM PT

Last year, a Princeton professor took to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal to mock House Speaker John Boehner for daring to use the phrase "job-killing government spending."  The thesis of this editorial was that government spending might lead to excessive debt or taxes, and tax money could be "invested" in less than optimal ways, but it was silly for Boehner to suggest that spending in and of itself could be harmful to job creation; the professor, Alan Blinder, suggested that it was completely silly for anyone to believe that.

This got my dander up, so pondering the ways in which Blinder is wrong - in fact, I think absurdly wrong, to every bit the degree he thought Boehner was foolish - became a hobby of mine.  I recently put together an updated essay on the ways Big Government spending is inherently damaging to the economy.  But President Obama's sequestration theatrics lead me to think I should have included one more, perhaps ancillary, issue: government spending gives the government more power to make itself grow.

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SHAMELESS: Longer Lines at Airports Because...Sequester

Feb 21, 2013 8:33 AM PT

Hysteria over the sequester continues to heat up. Politco is reporting that Americans who travel will need to prepare themselves for longer lines and wait time at the airports. The reason: SEQUESTER. 

“These across-the-board cuts may punish travelers with flight delays, long security lines at Transportation Security Agency checkpoints and multi-hour waits to clear Customs and Border Protection,” Dow said. "There is absolutely no excuse for travelers in one of the world's most advanced nations to suffer through a travel process that wastes their precious time and resources.”

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Ezra Klein's Sequester Omission

Feb 19, 2013 5:05 PM PT

So Ezra Klein has a new piece outlining Bowles-Simpson 2.0 which is a plan to replace the $1.2T sequester with $2.4 T in cuts and tax reform. One of Ezra's big takeaways is "Simpson and Bowles have revised the tax ask way, way down." He even has a graph to illustrate the difference between Simpson-Bowles 1.0 and 2.0:

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Sequester Will Force Obama's Hand on Entitlements Says...The White House

Feb 19, 2013 9:27 AM PT

President Obama has been giving the sequester plenty of negative attention recently. Two weeks ago he made a statement about the sequester in which he called it a "self-inflicted wound" to the economy. Ten days ago he focused on it during his Weekly Address saying the cuts would make Americans "suffer." Then last week, in his State of the Union speech, the President called it "a really bad idea."

If you didn't know better you'd think all of this was a shock to the President. In fact, when the Debt Limit Deal was reached in 2011 the White House made clear that sequester was bad news by design. The White House Fact Sheet announcing the debt limit deal called sequester as "A Strong Enforcement Mechanism to Make All Sides Come Together."

If the fiscal committee took no action, the deal would automatically add nearly $500 billion in defense cuts on top of cuts already made, and, at the same time, it would cut critical programs like infrastructure or education.  That outcome would be unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alikecreating pressure for a bipartisan agreement without requiring the threat of a default with unthinkable consequences for our economy. 

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