Oh, that dreaded, awful sequester

With the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester set to kick in Friday (March 1) unless an alternative deal is reached, be ready to hear about all the terrible, horrible, unfathomable effects of cutting … less than 3 percent of all federal spending.

To put things in perspective, economist Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute (and a double Dawg) prepared this graph from Congressional Budget Office data:

Mitchell sequester cut graph

Note that, even after the sequester, spending continues to rise every year — in large part because the sequester doesn’t touch entitlements, which are the fastest-growing part of the budget.

Will there be an effect on some people? Of course: The only way there wouldn’t be is if the feds were simply taking tens of billion dollars a year and lighting them on fire. But as far as a modest measures for beginning to curb runaway spending go — and not even this White House is denying any longer that this country has a spending problem — we will hardly see anything more modest than the sequester. Anyone who says we can’t live with the sequester would probably say the same thing about any spending cuts whatsoever.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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276 comments Add your comment

md

February 25th, 2013
1:25 pm

That 6 trillion number should be the one folks are concerned with…….along with everything in between.

BW

February 25th, 2013
1:26 pm

Kyle

The only thing being arguing is that the cuts due for this fiscal year will cause real harm because the fiscal year is almost halfway over. Now no one, not Republicans or Democrats, have really proposed taking that spending graph and making the slope of that graph tilt downward in the out years.

Mr. Holmes

February 25th, 2013
1:30 pm

So if the cuts will inspire nothing more than a collective yawn, why is the GOP so desperately trying to pin the blame for these cuts on Obama? Given the whole “government is not the solution to our problems, government IS the problem” mentality, shouldn’t the Grand Old Party be stepping up to the plate & owning these cuts, rather than pointing their fingers like a bunch of tattling 10-year-olds?

I mean, c’mon Kyle. We’re a center-right country, right? Silent majority & all that? I’ve been so many times that conservative ideas, presented clearly, will win every time. Doesn’t get more clear than a 9% across the board cut. Therefore I expect the Republicans to issue a press release any day now proudly heralding the sequester and promising more of the same, once they’re returned to power.

On second thought … maybe I won’t hold my breath for that release…

Henne

February 25th, 2013
1:31 pm

Amend the law to allow the departments to pick their cuts this year, but make them they must.

indigo

February 25th, 2013
1:35 pm

If you are the one losing a job, in this economy, it may certainly be “terrible”.

Unfortunately, most of the unaffected, comfortable cons will take the “let them eat cake” attitude.

How does that old song go? “It’s a hard rain thats gona fall”.

Jefferson

February 25th, 2013
1:35 pm

Not anymore, Holmes. Them days done gone.

cj

February 25th, 2013
1:40 pm

The GOP dug their own grave…

Lynnie Gal

February 25th, 2013
1:43 pm

When your the one waiting in line at Airport Security to catch a plane and have to wait an additional few hours, you might see some of your “comfortable” colleagues whistling another tune. You cons figure as long as it’s just the poor going without food or commoner’s children who are herded into crowded classrooms, it doesn’t affect you. But, when it’s your plane going down in flames because of a slowdown by air traffic controllers who can’t do an adequate job anymore because of cuts, it might change your minds.

MarkV

February 25th, 2013
1:51 pm

The fallacy of Kyle’s (and others’) sequester cuts vs. future spending argument is that those two are not related the way Kyle (and Mitchell) are presenting them. The purpose of the sequester cuts was NOT to affect directly the federal spending in the future. It was to force the “super committee” to agree on a plan that would do that, using a threat of painful cuts now. For that reason the sequester cuts were not made in a way that would address either the appropriateness of the cuts in specific programs or the future budgets in general.

If Kyle believes that the sequester cuts are so innocuous, the best thing we can do is to wait for the judgment of the people if they are allowed to happen.

Scooter

February 25th, 2013
1:51 pm

When have Democrats ever wanted to seriously talk about spending cuts? The projected balanced budget under Clinton, which they all like to brag about, only came about because republicrats in congress forced the discussion. Democrats take it in from the minority and spread it around to the majority… reductions are only good politics among financially responsible people and that’s not the democrat base.

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
1:53 pm

I think a look at the facts are in order.
1. This idea orginiated in the White House.
2. Both houses of Congress passed it.
3. The President signed it.
4. The Republican House passed to measures to stop sequester from happening, the Senate ignored them.
5. Either house could propose a bill to allow targeting the cuts and they should, the President vowed to veto the measure.
6. All 85 billion will not be cut this year, only the pro-rata share since the start of the fiscal year last Oct.
7. These “cuts” or only a cut in the increases only, the federal budget will continue to grow. We continue on a path to add over one trillion to the national debt.

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:01 pm

Lynnie Gal-

Your comment reminds me of my childhood, what was the name of that story that went “the sky is falling, the sky is falling”.

1961_Xer

February 25th, 2013
2:01 pm

Let the cuts happen. The DOD budget NEEDS to be trimmed, as well as every other part of government. If a department can’t find 2% of fat to cut, they aren’t trying very hard.

That said, this is ALL on the President. He/his administration put the sequester on the table, the Democrat controlled-senate passed it, and he signed it into law. Republicans are willing to deal, but Obama is going to have to make the first move with his recommendations of where HE would cut the $85 billion. Since all we have out of the president is a talking populist monologue, it is clear that he is not going to lead on this issue, and the cuts as exist are almost exclusively Obama’s doing/fault.

There is no reason for Republicans to do anything. They gave in to the sequester/debt ceiling deal. They gave into tax rate increases. They are done getting rolled. This is a Democrat created problem and it will require Democrat solutions.

md

February 25th, 2013
2:07 pm

“When your the one waiting in line at Airport Security to catch a plane and have to wait an additional few hours, you might see some of your “comfortable” colleagues whistling another tune.”

That number gets to 6 trillion as projected, airport lines will be the last of our worries……..big picture folks, big picture.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 25th, 2013
2:07 pm

The reason the Republicans aren’t embracing it with open arms is because they know it will hurt the recovery. They have to weigh these small cuts with what damage is done to the economy and jobs and how that will affect their runs in 2014.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

February 25th, 2013
2:10 pm

That said, this is ALL on the President.

Can’t even take a small percentage of responsibility in this matter? That figures.

The party of responsibility? Hehehe

td

February 25th, 2013
2:14 pm

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
1:53 pm

Well said.

One additional point: The overall budget still goes up by $15 billion this year after the sequestration.

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:15 pm

Finn-

And what responsibility has the President taken? Let me give you an easier one, what responsibility has Reid taken for not passing a budget for 4 years?

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:16 pm

Jefferson

February 25th, 2013
2:19 pm

We didn’t have a spending problem until we started cutting revenue (1982-2008)…

td

February 25th, 2013
2:21 pm

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

February 25th, 2013
2:07 pm

The reason the Republicans aren’t embracing it with open arms is because they know it will hurt the recovery. They have to weigh these small cuts with what damage is done to the economy and jobs and how that will affect their runs in 2014.

We can not continue to prop up and economy on the backs of our children and grandchildren. We can either suffer a little now or our children and grandchildren will not be able to survive in the future.

Mr. Holmes

February 25th, 2013
2:23 pm

Here is what the Party of Responsibility actually wants:
1. Sequester takes effect (making the cuts Republicans have been saying they wanted but are too cowardly to actually & specifically propose)
2. Economy begins to sag (as every economist in the world says it will following immediate & drastic cut in government spending)
3. Fear & continued Washington dysfunction rattle markets, economy sinks lower (Republicans continue saying the sequester was Obama’s idea & resume their “failed president” rhetoric)
4. Public now doesn’t care about sequester; they just know the economy is in recession (just as the Republicans hoped it would be)
5. 2014 (or ‘16) rolls around, and Republicans campaign against Democrats for tanking the economy through the very cuts Republicans have wanted all along.

Will it happen? Who knows. But make no mistake, that is precisely the scenario Mitch McConnell is hoping for.

bluecoat

February 25th, 2013
2:25 pm

Lynnie when the plane is falling.The whitey prayers will be God don’t let me die,but if I do please ST.Peter don’t house me with no black.The Teaquester will hurt,regardless who’s to blame. It all boils down to the refusal to raise the debt limit.#1 priority make him a one termer.

Just Saying..

February 25th, 2013
2:25 pm

If that’s really the case, Kyle, why are so many Republicans giving the credit/blame to the President?

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:26 pm

Jefferson-

You are partially correct. With exception of the Gingrich House, Congress has been on a spend now pay later binge. Only Clinton for three years held the line and that resulted in a Clinton/Gingrich balanced budget.

Reagan, Bush-1, Clinton(first term), Bush-2 nor Obama have tried to balance the budget and caused an explosion in our debt.

jconservative

February 25th, 2013
2:26 pm

The day the bill passed Speaker Boehner said he got 98% of what he wanted. I figured then it was a done deal.

td

February 25th, 2013
2:27 pm

Jefferson

February 25th, 2013
2:19 pm

We didn’t have a spending problem until we started cutting revenue (1982-2008)

You can take 100% of the income of the top 5% and still not balance the budget. We do not have a revenue problem but a spending problem. Our nation CAN NOT continue to support 20 to 25% of this nation for their day to day subsistence.

Georgia

February 25th, 2013
2:28 pm

Those three topless Italian magpies showed up in Washington today protesting the sequester. The Saudis have to be behind this. (no defense cuts).

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

February 25th, 2013
2:28 pm

If the economy actually begins to sag due to a minor decrease in the rate of spending increases in government spending, as Mr. Holmes suggests it will, then our economy is in worse shape than even he might be able to figure out.

Any economy should never be so tied to government spending that it could go into the tank with such miniscule cuts to increases.

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:29 pm

bluecoat-

Are you kidding me? Go back and crawl under the rock you have been hiding under.

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:30 pm

Well said Tiberius.

Darwin

February 25th, 2013
2:32 pm

It’s just PR time right now for all sides. Just wait when long lines form at airports due to TSA layoffs. Then when someone gets inconvenienced (Tea Party types as well) – and the press starts covering it – we’ll see who comes out on top.

td

February 25th, 2013
2:32 pm

Mr. Holmes

February 25th, 2013
2:23 pm

We are already in a negative growth rate for last quarter without sequestration.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

February 25th, 2013
2:34 pm

“Just wait when long lines form at airports due to TSA layoffs.”

Seriously? Again, if you target what is arguably a valid role of public safety (even as overblown and inefficient as TSA is), an 8% cut to INCREASED spending is going to cause long lines at airports?

Seriously?

Who believes this nonsense?

bluecoat

February 25th, 2013
2:35 pm

Retired the name is the Obama train “I think I can,I think I can”.

Mr. Holmes

February 25th, 2013
2:36 pm

Tiberius: That is plain & utter nonsense. In ANY modern economy, government spending is going to be the single largest infusion of capital. Shocking that inflow is going to have an effect, I don’t care if you’re China, the U.S., Germany or the Cayman Islands.

sailfish

February 25th, 2013
2:37 pm

Tiberius

That certainly is the narrow view; any job lost due to the cuts will have a ripple effect throughout the economy, less goods are bought and less services demanded. That might be ok for you, but not so good if you are on the receiving end.

Mr. Holmes

February 25th, 2013
2:37 pm

We are already in a negative growth rate for last quarter without sequestration.

Yes, we are. And do you happen to know what caused that? Go ahead & Google, I’ll wait.

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:38 pm

bluecoat-

Nope, the name according to your 2:25 post is racist. John Lewis would be disgusted with you.

Just Saying..

February 25th, 2013
2:46 pm

“Reagan, Bush-1, Clinton(first term), Bush-2 nor Obama have tried to balance the budget and caused an explosion in our debt.”

Retired Soldier speaks the truth.

As if there was actual listening to be found…

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:48 pm

Thanks Just Saying

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

February 25th, 2013
2:48 pm

“Tiberius: That is plain & utter nonsense.”

You want nonsense, Mr. Holmes, re-read your next statement: ” In ANY modern economy, government spending is going to be the single largest infusion of capital.”

Says who? You? Where did you get your degree in economics; the University of Bejing?

“Shocking that inflow is going to have an effect, I don’t care if you’re China, the U.S., Germany or the Cayman Islands.”

Reducing the INCREASE in spending by single digits is now considered to be “shocking” the largest economy remaining in the entire world?

What hyperbolic planet do you and bluecoat live on?

getalife

February 25th, 2013
2:48 pm

The gop should surrender to President Obama, get out of the way of our recovery and fix their failed party.

Aynie Sue

February 25th, 2013
2:48 pm

1961-Xer … the Congress, not the President, is required by the Constitution to budget federal expenditures.

Revenue and spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives. For several years now, the House has not been able and willing to produce a federal budget acceptable to the Senate, the President, and the American people.

The “sequester ” is the fault of the House to carry out its Constitutional responsibility. The economic impact should, and will be, blamed on the Republican congressmen who resist sensible tax reform that would produce revenue offsets for sensible spending cuts.

The economic damage that will be wrought by the “sequester” spending cuts is predictable by economic theory and the examples of the European economies that have put spending cuts ahead of economic recovery. It is massive job loss, a return to economic recession, and lower private investment in job-creating enterprise.

Rush

February 25th, 2013
2:52 pm

Last comment went off into cyberspace…..not sure what was stated that was so bad.

getalife

February 25th, 2013
2:53 pm

The gop want to kill another 750,00 jobs because the gop are job killers.

The focus is on job growth for consumers but the gop shifted on cutting defense spending.

Keeping up with new gop positions is hard because they change positions daily.

This is called flailing in the wilderness without leadership.

When are you cons going to fix your party?

Hillbilly D

February 25th, 2013
2:54 pm

I’m not a betting man but if I was, I’d be this never happens. We’ll most like get an 11th hour “deal” that kicks the can another 3-6 months down the road. Personally, I’ve long since tired of this game.

Matt321

February 25th, 2013
2:55 pm

I am sad a double dog would produce such a misleading, useless graph. I’m ambivalent on the sequester, but that graph shows TOTAL government spending, when as Kyle mentions, large parts of the budget aren’t being affected. So the discretionary cuts that are happening are being masked by the much larger category of non-discretionary spending, which isn’t being cut. An honest chart would, for each individual affected department, look at the last several years backwards and forwards, adjust for inflation, and look at the cuts to each particular department – in other words, you need more than one chart.

Retired Soldier

February 25th, 2013
2:55 pm

Sue-

Nice try with half facts. The House does orginiate the budget and sends it to the Senate. If the Senate doesn’t like it, it amends the budget and sends it back to the House. Then if the House doesn’t pass the Senate verision then a conference committee is created to effect a compromise.

The Senate hasn’t even held hearings on a budget. You need to tell Reid to get off his fourth point of contact and do his job. Remember the President’s budget submittal was voted on in both the House and Senate. How many votes did it receive? ZERO from either party.

getalife

February 25th, 2013
2:56 pm

“Personally, I’ve long since tired of this game.”

So, are the majority.