BUDGET MADNESS: Sequestration debate extends endless squabling

BUDGET MADNESS: Sequestration debate extends endless squabling

February 28th, 2013 in Opinion Times

In every compromise, there are winners and losers.

But not with budget sequestration. Instead, the bleak likelihood of few congressional compromises would seem to guarantee almost no winners -- and certainly not many among middle-class and poor Americans who have seen stagnant earnings for years.

Instead, the budget sequestration looming in Washington is said to promise at least 700,000 future job loses and still more work -- and paycheck -- furloughs.

In the work trenches of America and the aisles of Walmart, the government's partisan addiction to games of chicken are wearing thin. Republicans say spending is the problem and the president has already gotten his tax increase.

Democrats say revenue also is a problem, and tax loopholes for the rich -- opened up in the Bush years -- need to close now to restore needed new cash for the nation's obligations.

But the pre-game shows on the news leading up to SuperSequester Friday play out hour after hour and are just downright maddening.

Certainly Uncle Sam can watch his spending. But like it or not, taxes are this country's only real source of revenue. And right now the wealthy, who received loop-holes tax cuts during the Bush Administration, are the most attractive targets.

We in middle-class America -- especially have in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama -- are all too familiar with not receiving pay increases for the past several years while the cost of groceries and transportation and insurance went up.

We're all too familiar with trimming our spending habits to carry cheese sandwiches for lunch instead of running to the restaurant down the street.

So it is disconcerting when our congressional members -- largely Republican -- bridle at compromise over ways to help more of us and our children stay employed by seeking more taxes from millionaires. Facts and common sense show there already has been penny-pinching -- and not just by citizens.

So is it any wonder that most give President Obama higher approval ratings in dealing with the budget than either congress or Republicans?

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday evening found that only 29 percent agree "with most" of what Republicans in Congress have proposed, versus 45 percent who agree with what President Obama has put forward, and 40 percent agree with the plan offered from congressional Democrats.

In the same poll, 64 percent said Republicans are taking a partisan approach, versus 22 percent who say the GOP is simply focusing on unity.

But the Republicans can't be held completely to blame for anything except their misinformation spin campaign. The American people, too, have to own up to not paying enough attention to reality rather than bluster.

A Bloomberg poll in mid-February found that most Americans didn't even know the current state of the deficit -- the amount the government spends that is more than the amount it takes in from taxes and other revenue.

Poll respondents were asked: "Is it your sense that this year the deficit is getting bigger or getting smaller, or is it staying about the same as last year?"

Only 6 percent knew that the deficit in fact has been decreasing since the transition year from President George W. Bush to President Barack Obama. Some 62 percent said it was getting bigger, while 28 percent said it was staying about the same.

Now it's a wait-and-see game. We'll just have to hunker down for Friday and the next big game of huff and puff and blow-the-house-down.