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1 Mar, 2013 08:49

‘Sequester reflects Washington’s ugly political deadlock’

‘Sequester reflects Washington’s ugly political deadlock’

Poor Americans will be the first to suffer from the looming sequester budget cuts, Margaret Bogenrief of ACM Partners told RT. The harsh budget cuts are set to begin in the US on Friday at midnight.

The deadlock between the Republicans and the Democrats in the US Congress makes any kind of last-minute deal to avoid the sequester nearly impossible. Starting on March 1, the austerity program will cut $85 billion from the country’s budget by the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

“The sequester is, in and of itself, clearly an inefficient method for tackling deficit growth, existing instead a reflection of the absolute and ugly political deadlock seizing DC,” Bogenrief said. “Perhaps most incisively, the (threat of the) sequester signals how absolutely unwilling Republicans are to tackle the tax side of the cutting spending and increase tax, which equals the decreased deficit part of the equation.”

“Instead, most members of the GOP publicly fighting the President have already skipped ahead to thinking about the 2014 midterms, when they’ll be held to task for seeming to be ‘soft’ on Obama and the Democrats’ (and, really, reality’s) assertions that taxes must be play a role in the compromise,”
she continued.

“Instead, those up for re-election are concerned that, should they compromise, even more extreme potential electoral candidates will emerge post-sequester debate, claiming the incumbents went ‘soft,’ ergo winning the votes of the traditionally more-conservative mid-term electorate watching these proceedings closely.  Obama, in turn, appears willing to wait out the detractors, after having scored a resounding win last November,” she concluded.

Bogenrief believes that Washington will eventually come to a consensus, but not any time soon.

“Wait until April 15, the deadline for Congress to act, lest its members wish to forfeit receiving taxpayer-funded paychecks,” she explained

The budget cuts will be equally divided between defense and non-defense, with education, public transport and social services to be affected.

“The cuts that are set to hit March 1 will, inevitably as in all things political and financial, hit the poor and disenfranchised, while avoiding the deficit’s biggest drivers,” Bogenrief said. “While $42.7 billion of the total $85 billion of cuts hits discretionary defense spending (a mere decimal point in the United States military industrial complex, which is currently paying down hundreds of billions of dollars in interest incurred on debt used to fund previous wars), the remaining $42.3 billion of cuts dig into discretionary nondefense spending, Medicare, and other mandatory spending." 

“Even more relevantly, a significant portion of these cuts (including those in defense) are set to hit specific geographical areas dependent on both the defense department for employment and other government and social programs, thereby making a consensus even more difficult for lawmakers focused on serving only their districts (after all, why would a Congressperson from Nevada tackle a politically contentious issue or fight to score a win for the constituents of Alabama?),”
she said.

“Eventually, the United States must learn, no matter how painfully, that to spend much revenue, much revenue must be taken in.  And there are only so many social programs and schools and communities that can take a hit until the larger (taxation) problems are forced to the forefront and, hopefully, addressed,” she added.

The current crisis stems from a 2011 clash over raising the debt ceiling , during which time US lawmakers agreed that automatic cuts could take effect if Republicans and Democrats failed to come to terms on a tax and spending package.