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Excerpt: "These cuts, which will cost the economy more than one million jobs over the next two years, are the direct result of the Republican demand in 2011 to shrink the government at any cost."

NYT: 'About $85 billion will be cut from discretionary spending over the next seven months.' (photo: TPM Muckraker)
NYT: 'About $85 billion will be cut from discretionary spending over the next seven months.' (photo: TPM Muckraker)


The Real Cost of Shrinking Government

By The New York Times | Editorial

17 February 13

 

n less than two weeks, a cleaver known as the sequester will fall on some of the most important functions of the United States government. About $85 billion will be cut from discretionary spending over the next seven months, reducing defense programs by about 8 percent and domestic programs by about 5 percent. Only a few things will be spared, including some basic safety-net benefits like Social Security, as well as pay for enlisted military personnel.

The sequester will not stop to contemplate whether these are the right programs to cut; it is entirely indiscriminate, slashing programs whether they are bloated or essential. The military budget, for example, should be reduced substantially, but thoughtfully, considering the nation's needs. Instead, every weapons system, good or bad, will be hurt, as will troop training and maintenance.

These cuts, which will cost the economy more than one million jobs over the next two years, are the direct result of the Republican demand in 2011 to shrink the government at any cost, under threat of a default on the nation's debt. Many Republicans say they would still prefer the sequester to replacing half the cuts with tax revenue increases. But the government spending they disdain is not an abstract concept. In a few days, the cuts will begin affecting American life and security in significant ways.

While some departments may have exaggerated the dire effects of their reductions, Congressional budget experts say they have little doubt that the size and pervasive nature of the sequester will inflict widespread pain. Here are some examples from the government departments most affected:

NATIONAL SECURITY Two-week furloughs for most law-enforcement personnel will reduce Coast Guard operations, including drug interdictions and aid to navigation, by 25 percent. Cutbacks in Customs agents and airport security checkpoints will "substantially increase passenger wait times," the Homeland Security Department said, creating delays of as much as an hour at busy airports. The Border Patrol will have to reduce work hours by the equivalent of 5,000 agents a year.

The Energy Department's nuclear security programs will be cut by $900 million, creating delays in refurbishing the weapons stockpile, and cutting security at manufacturing sites. Environmental cleanup at nuclear weapons sites in Washington State, Tennessee, South Carolina and Idaho will be delayed.

AIR TRAFFIC About 10 percent of the Federal Aviation Administration's work force of 47,000 employees will be on furlough each day, including air traffic controllers, to meet a $600 million cut. The agency says it will be forced to reduce air traffic across the country, resulting in delays and disruptions, particularly at peak travel times.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE Every F.B.I. employee will be furloughed for nearly three weeks over the course of the year, the equivalent of 7,000 employees not working each day. The cut to the F.B.I. of $550 million will reduce the number of background checks on gun buyers that the bureau can perform, and reduce response times on cyberintrusion and counterterrorism investigations.

A cut of $338 million will mean more than a two-week furlough for 37,000 prison employees. This will result in lockdowns at federal prisons across the country, increasing the chances for violence and risks to guards, and preventing the opening of three new prison buildings.

Federal prosecutors will handle 2,600 fewer cases, because of furloughs resulting from a $100 million cut. That means thousands of criminals and civil violators will not face justice, and less money will be collected in fines.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION About 70,000 children will lose access to Head Start, and 14,000 teachers and workers will be laid off, because of a $424 million cut. Parents of about 30,000 low-income children will lose child-care assistance.

HEALTH AND SAFETY A cut of $350 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will mean 25,000 fewer breast and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women; 424,000 fewer H.I.V. tests; and the purchase of 540,000 fewer doses of vaccine for flu, hepatitis and measles. Community health centers will be cut by $120 million, meaning that about 900,000 fewer patients lacking insurance will receive primary care.

A three-week furlough of all food safety employees will produce a shortage of meat, poultry and eggs, pushing prices higher and harming restaurants and grocers. The Agriculture Department warns that public health could be affected by the inevitable black-market sales of uninspected food.

Several air-monitoring sites will be shut down, as will more than 100 water-quality projects around the country. About $100 million will be cut from Superfund enforcement, allowing companies to evade their responsibilities to clean up environmental disasters.

RESEARCH Nearly 1,000 grants from the National Science Foundation will be canceled or reduced, affecting research in clean energy, cybersecurity, and reform of science and math education.

RECREATION National parks will have shorter hours, and some will have to close camping and hiking areas. Firefighting and law enforcement will be cut back.

DEFENSE PERSONNEL Enlisted personnel are exempt from sequester reductions this year, but furloughs lasting up to 22 days will be imposed for civilian employees, who do jobs like guarding military bases, handle budgets and teach the children of service members. More than 40 percent of those employees are veterans.

The military's health insurance program, Tricare, could have a shortfall of up to $3 billion, which could lead to denial of elective medical care for retirees and dependents of active-duty service members.

MILITARY OPERATIONS The Navy plans to shut down four air wings on March 1. After 90 days, the pilots in those air wings lose their certifications, and it will take six to nine months, and much money, to retrain them. The Navy has also said the Nimitz and George H. W. Bush carrier strike groups will not be ready for deployment later this year because the service will run out of operations and maintenance money. This means the Truman and Eisenhower strike groups will remain deployed indefinitely, a decision affecting thousands of service members and their families.

Continuous bomber flights outside of Afghanistan will be reduced, and there will be cutbacks to satellite systems and missile warning systems.

TRAINING AND MAINTENANCE The Army, which has done most of the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, says it will be forced to curtail training for 80 percent of its ground forces and that by the end of the year, two-thirds of its brigade combat teams will fall below acceptable levels of combat readiness. Air Force pilots expect to lose more than 200,000 flying hours. Beginning in March, roughly two-thirds of the Air Force's active-duty combat units will curtail training at their home bases, and by July will no longer be capable of carrying out their missions. Some ship and aircraft maintenance will be canceled for the third and fourth quarters of the fiscal year, resulting in fewer available weapons.

Last week, Senate Democrats produced a much better plan to replace these cuts with a mix of new tax revenues and targeted reductions. About $55 billion would be raised by imposing a minimum tax on incomes of $1 million or more and ending some business deductions, while an equal amount of spending would be reduced from targeted cuts to defense and farm subsidies.

Republicans immediately rejected the idea; the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, called it "a political stunt." Their proposal is to eliminate the defense cuts and double the ones on the domestic side, heedless of the suffering that even the existing reductions will inflict. Their refusal to consider new revenues means that on March 1, Americans will begin learning how austerity really feels.


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+7 # ghw 2013-02-17 23:10
I am sure some of these guys were in the same economics class as I was - what happened in translation?
 
 
+5 # Fiona Mackenzie 2013-02-18 02:34
Depends on when you took economics. For thirty years, no one but Krugman seemed to question the notion of "supply side" or "trickle-down," despite the fact that any economic historian should have been able to point out that this is how democracies typically die.
 
 
+3 # pbbrodie 2013-02-18 10:30
They don't care. All they are concerned about is humoring their bosses and we all know who those are.
 
 
+20 # ganymede 2013-02-17 23:11
When the history of this period is written a few years from now the Republican Party as it is constituted today will no longer be in existence. It's leaders will be tossed on the dustbin of history as people who deliberately tried to destroy our country. They will not have succeeded because we are going rise up over the next few weeks and support Obama in overriding and over ruling these traitors.
 
 
+6 # mickeynow 2013-02-18 00:24
I can only wish that this would happen. But I fear too many people don't really understand what is going on. Half of the country truly believes that the republicans have the answers to what ails us. We must do better in our efforts to educate those who are working so hard just to survive in this era and cannot spend the time to learn about the actual fixes available for most of the population. You cannot have all of these benefits and not pay for them. That means, in my book, taxes must rise to pay for services. Yes, it is an ugly concept, but necessary. Until we figure out a way to get the corporations to pay their fair share by denying the far too many tax loopholes, we will not succeed. I fear for the country I love if this continues.
 
 
+6 # Ken Halt 2013-02-18 00:36
Gany: I hope you are right about people rising up to force Obama to do the right thing, but I know you are correct when it comes to the traitorous actions of conservatives. Some think of them as inept at governance, but actions speak louder than words. They have been actively trying to destroy the federal gov't of "We The People", which they see as the enemy. After thirty years of conservative ascendancy, I am SO tired of stupidity and ignorance. We need a strong federal gov't to stand up to the greed and excess of big corporations, a strong federal gov't to regulate for clean air and water, healthy food, safe work places, etc.
 
 
+6 # tswhiskers 2013-02-18 09:36
I would like to think you are right, ganymede. But I live in a red state and I now have a Tea Partier for a Congressman, wealthy, good-looking and of course, a Christian. The fundamental blame for our crazy Reps. must be laid at the feet of the voters. The more conservative the Repubs. become, the more some voters love them. The Sequester is monumentally stupid and damaging to the country. The Reps. care so much about the country that they've forced Congress to take vacation time now. As for the public rising up I don't see that happening unless things like the voter ID mess, and even more important, the governor appointed economic advisors in Mich. who take over entire towns and cities like feudal lords and answer to no one create a lot more indignation than they have so far. We are losing our rights in state legislatures and those idiots who glue themselves to Fox News don't know it's happening. Nearly every political problem can be attributed to Reps. but my state went for Romney and Mark Meadows. Yes, we need some uprisings but that requires huge coordination and time and money and the realization among a vast majority of the population of the harm Reps. have done to us. We are in the midst of an enormous age of communications but most of us can't be bothered to see what's happening and to want to do something about it.
 
 
+8 # Redstateliberal 2013-02-17 23:54
I hope you are right ganymede. In my 75 years of living I have never seen the likes of greed and ignorance that pervade our society. I feel helpless and depressed at times. I voted for President Obama. There was a glimmer of hope that the far-right politicians might be willing to cooperate for the sake of our country. They seem to hate Obama so much that they don't care what happens to us. They no longer listen to the majority of their constituents. What can we do?
 
 
+5 # Fiona Mackenzie 2013-02-18 02:32
On the contrary--they will have destroyed the country. Eventually there will be an uprising, I suppose, but study of how efficiently the economic elite has defeated the U.S. and seized its resources and opportunity, and how incompetent Americans have been to realize and combat the onslaught, it is extremely unlikely that there will be a return of economic opportunity and personal freedom even in our grandchildren's lifetime.
 
 
-4 # MidwestTom 2013-02-18 08:09
From the tone of the piece one would think that they are cutting 50% not 8%. Let's start with what is being cut, a big piece is the wage increases that will not happen for government workers next year---this is not an actual cut. This is probably 1.5% to 2% of the cut, leaving a 6% cut. If a TSA worker is earning $25/hour his or her pay will now be $23.50 per hour. Many people in private industry have suffered this kind of cut over the past 4 years. This is not the end of the world.
 
 
-12 # MidwestTom 2013-02-18 08:13
Lost in all of the media frenzy is the fact that the Sequester was Obama's idea to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, if the Republicans would agree to tax increases, which they did, with the cuts to come in a later agreement, and if no agreement the Sequester would cut automatically. All Obama's idea.
 
 
+7 # MidwestDick 2013-02-18 10:12
The Republicans, using the debt ceiling for leverage, forced Obama's hand after the Dems had just lost an election. In order to salvage unemployment benefits and provide an increase in take-home pay, Obama agreed to cuts down the road. These cuts were supposed to be instituted by a bi-partisan destroy social security committee (Simpson Bowles, an arch conservative and a Wall Street privateer) The committee failed to reach agreement. Without agreement, the sequester comes into force. The sequester is supposed to replicate the bottomless pit of hell for both Democrat and Republican, and so it does, which is why that little devil, Paul Ryan, is so fond of it.
Supposedly, it is such a bad idea that no politician in his right mind would go for it. Once again, this pre-supposes that the reps in both parties are in their right mind. Not so much, apparently. One of the parties believes that if they can push the economy off the cliff, the other party's Chief Executive will lose all support and the other party will roast in hell where they belong.
Bwahahahahaha.
Truly a fiendish and demented strategy, but it worked in 2010.
About this Obama is at fault business. He played a part, but POTUS is not GOD, and even if he was, he would still have the Republicans to contend with.
 
 
+2 # BradFromSalem 2013-02-18 10:16
Wow, thjat memo to blame Obama went out faster than a speeding bullet. Super Memo!

Obama did not invent the sequester in a vacuum, Republicans agreed to it. It was suppossed to be a tool to fix things, not a hammer to smash things. It was created so the Republican Meat Cleavers ( a new baseball team in the very minor league tea pot league) would have time to actually list stuff they wanted to cut, instead of blaming the President for not coming up with the cuts that they want.

Sarcasm alert!
Republicans: "Hey bitch, cook me some supper!"
Woman: "I made a roasted chicken"
Republican: "What's the matter with you, lazy broad, can't you cook me something I like? You are lazy and worthless."
Woman: "FU Asswipe remnants on my toilet paper, If you don't like what I prepared, cook your own meal!"
 
 
+2 # pbbrodie 2013-02-18 10:35
Not true at all. The sequester was born in response to the Republicans holding the debt increase hostage in 2011. You have your dates and occurrences all mixed up. The tax increases just passed to avoid the fiscal cliff. At least get your facts straight, before spewing your ridiculous comments.
 
 
0 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-02-19 12:34
Pbbrodie, you are correct! The sequestration may have been Obama's idea, I don't really recall now, but he was forced into that possibility by the howling mad Republicans screaming about the I'll effects of the deficits they created and locked in during George Worst Bush's eight glorious years. I believe that a handful of neocons created this budget "crisis" to finally force drastic cuts in everything but the defense spending that goes mostly to 'red' states. Obama painted himself and his fellow Democrats into this corner by adopting the Republicans' Apocalyptic language about this issue! Obama is part of our collective problem. He does not want to admit that he was suckered into this mess by the Republicans. The federal deficits, as a percentage of GDP, were much higher during WW2 and we did not collapse. After the war ended we reduced defense spending by 2/3, maintained a 91% top marginal income tax rate on ALL income, and we converted war material plants and skilled labor force to producing the consumer goods needed by us and Europe and Japan! As someone else said recently, we do not have a budget deficit, we have an employment deficit! The only real, longterm way to reduce our deficits is not to reduce federal spending, but to get 7 or 8 million Americans back to work in good jobs so that they are once again paying federal and state income taxes, and are paying more sales taxes! And to raise most wages to get back to where we were in the 70s!
 
 
-6 # MidwestTom 2013-02-18 08:26
We have a Federal Government who is attempting to run the world, which we cannot afford, both financially and practically. In the eyes of much of the world We are the Evil Empire; and it is bankrupting us. Since we have some of the highest cost of doing business in the world companies want to expand other places. Unfortunately, we must keep our military very strong to force the rest of the world to accept and use our dollar. Without our military ,might we instantly become a third world nation, with small pockets of very good living; much like India, Nigeria, or Brazil today. The question is do we want a gradual weakening by slowly cutting back over a decade, or a sudden crash like Russia went through where all safety nets disappear overnight.
 
 
+3 # pbbrodie 2013-02-18 10:39
It is utterly amazing how you mix some excellent observations in with complete BS. You really believe India is a pocket of "very good living?"
Your first comment about the government attempting to run the world is certainly right on and a huge part of our current problems. Your second comment about how we are viewed by the rest of the world and that it is bankrupting us is even better but then you go drastically down hill from there. I find you a very interesting person with such deeply conflicting ideas.
 
 
0 # cynnibunny 2013-02-19 01:01
Quoting MidwestTom:
We have a Federal Government who is attempting to run the world, which we cannot afford, both financially and practically. In the eyes of much of the world We are the Evil Empire; and it is bankrupting us. ....


I seem to remember it was George W. Bush who decided to police the world by starting not one, but TWO wars of conquest, with no end in sight, and no explicit budget. Furthermore, it was based on LIES.

As much as I dislike the Drone program, and the continuance of the 'War On Terror', President Obama has quietly reduced our military expenditures by getting us OUT of the wars the GOP got us into, and reducing our involvement in 'run[ning] the world' by coaxing our European jingoists to take the lead role in wars of conquest (Libya and Mali).

You must get your facts from Right-Wing Fantasy News (a.k.a. Fox). In addition to starting these wars, G.W. signed our taxes over to Wall Street right before he left office. Obama ain't perfect, but G.W. outspent him by far.
 
 
+10 # RnR 2013-02-18 08:31
Somebody should get on the story of the destruction of the US Post Office by our republican fascist friends. It will be horrendous.

Inhofe is already negotiating with UPS lining his pockets. No more home delivery. Think of what it'll do to those receiving their medications through the mail due to the restrictions imposed by yet another fascist organization, the friendly HMO.

Matt Taibbi....help!
 
 
+4 # pbbrodie 2013-02-18 10:45
Couldn't agree with you more. One thing being missed here is the huge amount of business being conducted by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of small time businesses on eBay. This loss of cheaper and much more efficient shipping will destroy the vast majority of these businesses. Most people have absolutely no idea of just how efficient the Post Office actually is. Those of us who use their services on a daily basis certainly know and appreciate it.
We absolutely MUST save the Post Office and the fastest and best way is to eliminate the ridiculous law requiring the PO to prefund 75 years of retirement benefits for their employees, which is crippling them, and isn't required of any other government or business entity. This law was created by the Republicans in 2006 with the express purpose of destroying the Post Office and it is succeeding beyond their wildest expectations!
 
 
+1 # Vardoz 2013-02-18 09:36
This deal is a devils bargain and will create a depression. It is national suiicide and that's what the GOP and some Dems and the corporations want.
 
 
+1 # Vardoz 2013-02-18 09:47
This congress should be held in contempt and charges should be brought against them for threatening our nation and people. Anyone who supports this is a mence to our society.
 
 
0 # BradFromSalem 2013-02-18 10:05
I got a great idea! I don't understand why nobody has thought of it before I did. How about The US Senate (we know the House is even more dysfunctional) passes a resolution the President gets on the TV box and demands that the sequester is repealed. Then repeating what he said in his SOTU speech, insist that it get a vote. The very next day, the Democrats introduce the same repeal bill in both the House and the Senate. The very next night, Harry and Nancy go on the TV box to read to the American public the bil. This will take all of 5 minutes, since it is a simple repeal of a section of existing legislation. Follow their reading up with a number of Democrats looking into the camera, and saying that a vote is all they ask.

Maybe even a few of those Democrats will be holding a high value platinum coin when they ask for a vote.
 
 
0 # MidwestDick 2013-02-18 10:45
Republicans holds the house. Democrats can not introduce legislation.
 
 
0 # BradFromSalem 2013-02-18 12:10
Of course they can. Its just that what bills are voted on are controlled by the Majority. That is why I outlined the steps that I did. The idea is to either make the vote happen.
 
 
+1 # LeeBlack 2013-02-18 10:20
This is the success of Grover Norquist's goal to 'starve the beast'.
 
 
-3 # MidwestTom 2013-02-18 12:30
I do not know if any of you live in the Washington DC area. I visited there for a week in November. Thee is no recession there. Their economy is booming with new construction everywhere, and housing that cost far more than similar housing in major Midwest cities. All paid for by taxpayers who are having a hard time, and many are unemployed. Maybe if we make government jobs a little ;less cushy, they will finally get the idea and go after Wall Street, instead of immitatiing them.
 

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