The sequester: It’s like the flu or a hangover. You’ve got it now how are you going to get through it?
So let’s take the first case, the flu. You did not give yourself the flu but you’ve got it. The thing about the flu is you don’t know how bad it is until it’s over. That is one way to look at the sequester. In the second case, the hangover, that is self- inflicted. We could argue that the sequester is a hangover in waiting. It is self-inflicted considering we live in a representative democracy. We elected the people who decided, in the absence of the thought process, let’s just cut the Department of Defense and all the Federal agencies, see what happens. These are the people who represented us in the negotiations that created the tactic of sequestering our government agencies because of binge spending.
If this were the first time we got a hangover from binging, we could be somewhat understanding. But, after 4 years, the United States of America does not have a federal budget. The United States Congress has not passed a budget since 2009. If we had a budget, and it contained tactical cuts, federal agencies could plan. Yet, Congress put off getting a budget agreement until after the elections. We keep on doing what we know will cause the hangover. The people we elected are unable to agree on a budget to run our country. Did you know this? Would you let your household, your business, our city or state run without a budget for four years?
So ask yourself, who benefits if we do nothing? If our government does not pass a budget with cuts in spending, and tax hikes, who benefits? Come on – who benefits from status quo? The sequester will not touch the debt crisis. It does not touch over 50% of our debt problems, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The sequester is a message to America from Congress; tell us what to do. Let’s take Congress and the President up on this challenge.
Tip O’Neil, Speaker of the House in a different era, advised all Americans to think globally and act locally. Let’s look at an example of what we were facing with Spaceport America a month ago. If we did not craft good Informed Consent legislation, our anchor tenant would not be able to operate. The state would have a $210 million dollar state asset that will have a limited function. We averted this scenario. How? We worked together in harmony to educate and listen to each other. We came up with legislation that will get us to the next step and continue on evolving commercial human space travel in our state and nation. We created a win win – together.
So what’s our next step here? We have to start talking directly to our legislators in Washington. Focus on what you know well, if you are an educator, let our federal legislators know what you want in a budget for our country no later than 2014. Same thing if you are a city worker, a federal employee, a car dealer or a restaurant owner. Talk about what you know, send a message. We want a budget. You see, this year, Fiscal Year 2013, is half over. We will not get a budget this year either. If we let our elected representatives know what we want, and they still don’t act, our choices are clear in the next election cycle.
I was in Washington, DC last week. My purpose was to deliver a message personally to our congressional delegation. The federal programs I work on have been operating as if under sequester for over a year. We, the people who work in the states on the business of the government, how their budgets are doing. The folks at WSTF, WSMR, the Forest Service and the Border Patrol, they get it. They were told a year ago to submit budgets with sequester in place. They are operating as if they have been under sequester already. The FAA is going to cut services to smaller airports. Government furloughs will effect everything from passport processing to Visa requests.
The true damage of the sequester will not be known until it is over. I was on Capitol Hill the day after we invaded Iraq. The Army was on the lawn of the Capitol with machine guns. On the same lawn, I saw a hundred students on Spring break. Ours is a great country, we can do better than this.