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Author Topic: Sequestration  (Read 3288 times)

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Offline RubySlippers

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2013, 12:39:03 PM »
I'm not per se for the Sequestration but it does the budget cutting things no one seems to want to do. But I would like to see a better use for our money and  a serious social safety net for all but that would mean other programs might need to be reduced like the military.

The theory is if we can build bombs and train soldiers we can divert that to medical centers and training medical care providers fits my line of reasoning or providing good trade schools in every school district.

But I just was trying to point out you call a constitutional convention we are looking at todays people not in the original context landowners, the educated and elites coming up with things it would be many normal people who have their own wishes. Look at Venezuala's latest Constitution in many ways its better than ours when dealing with the common people it could likely be more good than not but it would likely not be a conservative document any longer.

Offline Trieste

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2013, 01:01:09 PM »
I'm not per se for the Sequestration but it does the budget cutting things no one seems to want to do. But I would like to see a better use for our money and  a serious social safety net for all but that would mean other programs might need to be reduced like the military.

That's... that's actually the whole point and design of the thing. The cuts are supposed to be painful to everyone as an incentive not to do them. These cuts were specifically designed to be indiscriminate and bad for everyone.

The definition of sequestration cuts is cuts that hurt everyone. And Congress is supposed to not want those cuts to go through, so it's supposed to be an incentive for them to reach fiscal goals and avoid those cuts.

The sequester cuts are designed to be harsh and inefficient.

They are not a good thing.

Sequester cuts are designed to be Not a Good Thing.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #27 on: March 03, 2013, 08:14:48 PM »
That's... that's actually the whole point and design of the thing. The cuts are supposed to be painful to everyone as an incentive not to do them. These cuts were specifically designed to be indiscriminate and bad for everyone.

The definition of sequestration cuts is cuts that hurt everyone. And Congress is supposed to not want those cuts to go through, so it's supposed to be an incentive for them to reach fiscal goals and avoid those cuts.


"Ye all want to see the axe going, but none of ye wish to be the one wielding its shaft"

-Famous quote by King Gustav Vasa, speaking to the Swedish parliament in 1527, a time when he knew that most of the delegates wanted to depose him - but also sensed that the various groups opposing him were too disunited and their aims too set against each other to do it. Two of the chief grievances were taxes and military spending. The King prevailed, ruled for thirty more years and transformed the country.

A parliament has to be able to work together, and have some focus beyond the next elections.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 08:15:55 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Moraline

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #28 on: March 04, 2013, 11:01:51 AM »
I'm sure I missed something here but why aren't the American people screaming for cuts to the bloated military spending? That's where the real savings can be made. Spend your budget on improving your economy and lives of your people instead of on a war machine.

Quote
"U.S. defense spending is expected to have risen in 2012, to about $729 billion, and then is set to fall in 2013 to $716 billion, as spending caps start kicking in. "

America’s staggering defense budget, in charts
Posted by Brad Plumer on January 7, 2013 at 11:26 am (The Washington Post)
(Those figures may not be accurate as I didn't cross reference them but I'm sure they are close.)

Offline Oniya

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #29 on: March 04, 2013, 11:12:12 AM »
Many of the people are.  Unfortunately, since about 9/11/01, the politicians (who seem to have a hard time listening to the people these days) have been wrapping defense spending up in the flag and daring anyone to lay a finger on it.  And, of course, we have the ever-so-vocal minority of the populace that believes that the entire Middle East needs to be held accountable for ... something.  Living on top of oil, I think.

Offline Hades

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #30 on: March 04, 2013, 03:50:33 PM »
Hell, alot of times the politicians don't even listen to the actual military when it comes to defense spending.

Case in point, is this article here.   As a quick summary, the article points out five projects being pushed for by Ohio's congressional delgation back in August 2012 that the Pentagon had said repeatedly they didn't want/need.  Such as a missile defense system for the East Coast of the US to protect the country from an attack by an Iranian missile.   I'll let that sink in for a minute since if you're like me your brain just whimpered and begged for mercy.  There's also mention of upgrades to the A1 Abrams tank, which is set to be retired from service in 2014. 

I understand needing a strong defense, so I don't mind that.  But if we could be a bit more reasonable about it, that'd be nice you know?  As Moraline pointed out, the US spends a huge amount on defense.  More than the next 14 countries combined I believe.  And of those 14 countries, all but two are our allies (China and Russia being the two outliers, and they're more like frienemies rather than actual enemies these days).   So if we cut out the cost of a new ballstic missile, are we really going to suddenly become vulnerable because we only have eleventy gazillion* missiles instead of eleventy gazillion and one?

*Note - Eleventy gazillion may or may not be a factual number and intended for illustration and not a factual statement.  >.>

Offline Moraline

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #31 on: March 04, 2013, 05:08:42 PM »
...   So if we cut out the cost of a new ballstic missile, are we really going to suddenly become vulnerable because we only have eleventy gazillion* missiles instead of eleventy gazillion and one?

*Note - Eleventy gazillion may or may not be a factual number and intended for illustration and not a factual statement.  >.>
That reminds me of this:

A Time-Lapse Map of Every Nuclear Explosion Since 1945 - by Isao Hashimoto

Offline Oniya

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #32 on: March 04, 2013, 05:44:16 PM »
Short version:

Out of almost 2100 explosions from 6 countries, the US is responsible for over half of them, most explosions took place on friendly soil, and I'm surprised that the southwest corner of the US doesn't glow in the dark.

Offline Moraline

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #33 on: March 04, 2013, 06:42:21 PM »
Short version:

Out of almost 2100 explosions from 6 countries, the US is responsible for over half of them, most explosions took place on friendly soil, and I'm surprised that the southwest corner of the US doesn't glow in the dark.
I know right? It's mind blowing! *grins*

Seriously though, how many times do they need to "test." It works already! Stop blowing shit up and save your damn money.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #34 on: March 04, 2013, 07:04:00 PM »
This is one method that could still be used to block the path towards key votes if filibustering should go out the window:


http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/04/us-calls-out-un-diplomats-for-coming-to-budget-meetings-drunk/

In another article I saw on this, Mr. Torsella voiced the suspicion that over the years some U.N. diplomats (he didn't say from which countries) had turned up deliberately drunk as a skunk in order to derail budget talks.  ;)

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #35 on: March 04, 2013, 11:26:34 PM »

This sequester idea was good, but with one tiny little flaw. The consequence affected the citizens, not the politicians. The nice thing about making rules is, you can craft them in such a way, that you are not adversely affected by them. If you want to make a change in this country, become a politician. You don't need to be competent, you just need to be slick enough to trick a large number of people into supporting you by making promises that you can't or won't bother to keep.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #36 on: March 05, 2013, 12:05:56 AM »
I was talking to a friend about this the other day. The sequester was an attempt to force negotiation under specific terms by limiting action. Used properly, that's an incredibly powerful and dirty tool, but the key is that you actually have to restrict your actions. It didn't do that, because its consequences could never hurt the people that mattered.

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #37 on: March 05, 2013, 12:12:34 AM »
If the consequence of not coming to an agreement was a fine in the order of a full year's salary or prison time for not doing their job, we would not be in this predicament right now. 

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #38 on: March 06, 2013, 05:15:24 PM »
True enough.  The people that are hurt by these cuts are once more the populace.  While people in office talk about how the cuts aren't so bad, they likewise dismiss or restrict the hours of government employees that did nothing wrong except having the misfortune of working beneath a Congress that can't decide its ass from its elbow.

Offline elone

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #39 on: March 09, 2013, 10:47:26 PM »
Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but aren't the sequester cuts the worst in the first year. The cuts are something like 80B or so. After that it is mostly a reduction in spending increases that would have occurred. At least that is how I understood it on the CBO report.

Also, how bad could the cuts be if they put in a bill for about 60B just for Sandy relief. That is almost the amount of cuts in the sequester.

I agree with those who think that our military spending is so out of control that most of the cuts could come there. I always like my tax dollars going for golf courses for the generals, and their chauffeurs, maids, chefs, mansions, holiday travel, etc.

Of course they have to put up with their pay being capped at $14,971/month. Base pay, not including extra allowances.
http://www.militaryfactory.com/military_pay_scale.asp
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 10:49:32 PM by elone »

Offline Trieste

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #40 on: March 09, 2013, 11:11:56 PM »
Yeah, cutting tens of billions in services while we're trying to recover from a recession is great. ::)

Johnny B probably got the idea from his friends in Greece. I hear they're not so worried about their deficit anymore. ::)

They're giving it two riots thumbs up over there.  ;D

Offline Caela

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2013, 11:58:01 AM »
If the consequence of not coming to an agreement was a fine in the order of a full year's salary or prison time for not doing their job, we would not be in this predicament right now.

Forget a full year's salary. My personal opinion is that their salaries should have been the first things cut...in half (at least, there is no reason that someone who only works PART of the year at their job should be making more than 4x - or more - than their lowest paid constituents)...PERMANENTLY. Also, this little perk of some positions being paid salaries for the rest of their lives, receiving health benefits for the rest of their lives etc...GONE. Granted it wouldn't save a huge chunk of change in the short term, but it would add up over the long haul and it would be something that hurt the politicians not doing their jobs instead of the main populace who are just trying to make ends meet and keep their kids fed during a recession.

I'd also change the way they write bills and get rid of their ability to add riders to a bill. You want to use federal money to build a bridge to nowhere...you can no longer attach it to a bill about education. You have to submit it as it's own bill and let it be voted on on it's own merits. This would chop a good chunk of the pork barrel spending out since a number of these would be shot to hell IF they ever made it out of committee. Too many decent bills get shot down because of the riders attached to them, and too much pork gets through as a means of buying votes. Again, not something that would likely save tons of money, especially in the short term, but something that would effect the Politicians more than the average Joe.

Other cuts DO need to be made, but they should be made with some common sense and look at the big picture, not just short term gains. The military budget is bloated beyond belief but cutting their tuition programs is BS. I'd have no problem cutting salaries for top brass down to something like 75k a year. The money saved I'd put back into the system to given soldiers a bit of a pay bump. It wouldn't be huge obviously, but it would still be an improvement over what they have now. I'd also look at those projects that Hades mentioned, the ones the military actually said they don't need and that are really just States looking to pad their own pockets with military contract, and cut them clean out. The money not being wasted on such projects could be put back into the system for the VA or tuition programs for soldiers.

I hate to say it, but if you're trying to streamline gov't spending, and cut waste, some jobs will be downsized or flat out lost. The federal gov't is so bloated it's ridiculous and it does need to be pared down to size. If you have three people in one office doing the same job, and it's only a two person job, then someone is going to lose their job. Perhaps they could be transferred to an area that needs more people, perhaps not, but some jobs would end up on the chopping block. It sucks but if we're really trying to get gov't spending under control it needs to happen.


 I would probably also restrict humanitarian aid to places devastated by natural disaster or civilian populations affected by war - maybe. I'm personally of the opinion that there is so much humanitarian aid needed in the US that we don't have a lot of business sending resources elsewhere until we get that straightened out. It's kind of like expecting those parts of the east coast that got hit by Sandy to ignore their rebuilding so they can send aid to places affected by wildfires in the west.

It's not that I don't think we should help others who need it, but it is an established fact that you are better at helping others when you have reached a stable place yourself. I think the US needs to do that. Badly.

THIS.

I would probably go a bit further and cut it to only places effected by natural disasters, and then on a case by case basis because...really...I am enough of a bitch that I see no good reason to send money to reinforce the home of someone who hates me, when my own roof needs replacing. I think we have enough people in need here that need our help that we should be sending our aid money to our own people. I would much rather see our aid money spent on things at home like decent low-income housing, food supplement programs designed to get people eating real food (not just the trash that's cheapest), job training programs to get people real, viable, skills that will allow them to get off the gov't tit and let them give themselves and their children, better lives and more opportunities.

Offline Sasquatch421

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #42 on: March 13, 2013, 05:07:03 PM »
Forget a full year's salary. My personal opinion is that their salaries should have been the first things cut...in half (at least, there is no reason that someone who only works PART of the year at their job should be making more than 4x - or more - than their lowest paid constituents)...PERMANENTLY. Also, this little perk of some positions being paid salaries for the rest of their lives, receiving health benefits for the rest of their lives etc...GONE. Granted it wouldn't save a huge chunk of change in the short term, but it would add up over the long haul and it would be something that hurt the politicians not doing their jobs instead of the main populace who are just trying to make ends meet and keep their kids fed during a recession.

But cutting their pay would undermine the dignity of their position according to Mrs. Pelosi... I do get a chuckle though when she talks about Senators struggling to make it on 178 thousand a year. Hell I made it through the year making under 4 thousand... A bunch of stoned monkeys could probably do their jobs better just make sure they have Pop-Tarts...

http://now.msn.com/nancy-pelosi-says-cutting-congress-pay-undermines-dignity-of-job

I'm a veteran myself and I agree they don't need some of the things they are spending money on... Our F/A-18's are perfectly good for the job do we really need new jets? Also I depend on the VA and government for my tuition assistance what happens there?

Offline Oniya

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #43 on: March 13, 2013, 05:18:18 PM »
Considering the antics they've been engaging in over the past decade, I don't know that there's that much 'dignity' left to undermine in some cases.

Offline Torch

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #44 on: March 14, 2013, 03:43:51 PM »
But cutting their pay would undermine the dignity of their position according to Mrs. Pelosi... I do get a chuckle though when she talks about Senators struggling to make it on 178 thousand a year.

Dignity aside, Nancy Pelosi does have a point. Not every member of Congress is independently wealthy, and there are some legislators who rely solely on their income as an elected official. Keep in mind most of these members are married and supporting families, and they must maintain a residence in their home state as well as a residence in Washington DC, one of the most expensive places to live in the US. There are members of Congress who sleep in their offices and use the Capitol Hill gymnasium for showers simply because they can't afford to rent or buy an home in DC.

There is also the matter of Congressional staff, and budgets to pay those staffers are directly proportional to state population. If you are a representative from a small population state like Wyoming or North Dakota, your staff is screwed because you don't have the big budgets like those from California, Florida and New York, and you can bet those members of Congress often make up the shortfall from their own pockets. 

I realize the prevailing wisdom on this thread is that Congress is overpaid and underworked, but I can guarantee you every one of those members can make a far more substantial income in the private sector than as an elected public official. If congressional salaries are sliced the way some feel they should be, who in their right mind would take the job and risk all those headaches for such little pay? Then you set up a situation where the only folks willing to run for Congress are the ultra-wealthy...and gee, look how well that would turn out.  ::)

Offline Caela

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #45 on: March 15, 2013, 09:35:38 PM »
Dignity aside, Nancy Pelosi does have a point. Not every member of Congress is independently wealthy, and there are some legislators who rely solely on their income as an elected official. Keep in mind most of these members are married and supporting families, and they must maintain a residence in their home state as well as a residence in Washington DC, one of the most expensive places to live in the US. There are members of Congress who sleep in their offices and use the Capitol Hill gymnasium for showers simply because they can't afford to rent or buy an home in DC.

There is also the matter of Congressional staff, and budgets to pay those staffers are directly proportional to state population. If you are a representative from a small population state like Wyoming or North Dakota, your staff is screwed because you don't have the big budgets like those from California, Florida and New York, and you can bet those members of Congress often make up the shortfall from their own pockets. 

I realize the prevailing wisdom on this thread is that Congress is overpaid and underworked, but I can guarantee you every one of those members can make a far more substantial income in the private sector than as an elected public official. If congressional salaries are sliced the way some feel they should be, who in their right mind would take the job and risk all those headaches for such little pay? Then you set up a situation where the only folks willing to run for Congress are the ultra-wealthy...and gee, look how well that would turn out.  ::)

You make an excellent point about  the fact that not ALL politicians are independently wealthy and having to keep two households (particularly when on is in the DC area) is VERY cost prohibitive. With that in mind I'll amend my comment about cutting their pay to thinking that it should only be cut until they get their asses to the table and do their JOB and get a budget out. Once this is actually accomplished and sequestration ends, they can have their regular checks back. Seriously though, something clearly needs to be done to get these people to get over their BS and actually working to solve the problem instead of just bitching that it is all the other sides fault.

There is more than enough blame to go around.

As for staffers, I think assigning funds for them based upon your states population is just wrong. Weather your CA or RI you need staff. Each Congressperson should be allotted a certain number of staff (no idea what is reasonable here) and that is all they get. Being on certain committees might earn them more depending on the amount of extra work that being on those committees brings their way. I will note this is just a personal opinion based on what seems fair and right in my own head, not something that has any basis in research at the moment.

Considering the antics they've been engaging in over the past decade, I don't know that there's that much 'dignity' left to undermine in some cases.

This + infinity! lol

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #46 on: March 16, 2013, 12:38:53 AM »
First step is maybe to stare reality in the face. "There's more than enough blame to go around" is too wishy-washy a statement about what's happening. There is a specific group on a specific side of the aisle with a specific ideology -- the Tea Partiers -- who have decided that their agenda is more important than the welfare of their fellow-citizens. Not sure where one goes from there, but one really has to start with that. It's the actual problem.

Offline Caela

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #47 on: March 16, 2013, 08:06:44 AM »
First step is maybe to stare reality in the face. "There's more than enough blame to go around" is too wishy-washy a statement about what's happening. There is a specific group on a specific side of the aisle with a specific ideology -- the Tea Partiers -- who have decided that their agenda is more important than the welfare of their fellow-citizens. Not sure where one goes from there, but one really has to start with that. It's the actual problem.

I won't argue that the Tea Partiers, and their extreme partisanship, are a problem now, but sequestration isn't all their fault alone. They are a loud, but fairly small group in Congress and if the Reps and Dems would get off their butts and work together, it wouldn't matter how loud the TP's were, something would get done. Unfortunately they have been pushing further and further away from each other, and more toward their own fringes and working against each other, for decades and the current situation (including the TP's) is just a culmination of how very partisan our main parties have become.

I don't think saying both sides are to blame is wishy washy at all. I think it's honest. No one side is innocent of the problems we're having now, both have had times when they had majorities and shit still didn't get done...why? Because they're all too worried about the next election to bother doing their jobs right now.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Sequestration
« Reply #48 on: March 16, 2013, 08:58:22 AM »
No one side is innocent of the problems we're having now, both have had times when they had majorities and shit still didn't get done...why? Because they're all too worried about the next election to bother doing their jobs right now.

This is why I want to see term limits, or at least something like the old Spartan law about never being able to serve two terms in succession. 'Politician' should never get to be your career.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: Sequestration
« Reply #49 on: March 16, 2013, 09:58:13 AM »
I won't argue that the Tea Partiers, and their extreme partisanship, are a problem now, but sequestration isn't all their fault alone. 

True, the blame also lies with other Republicans who have failed to stand up to them and demand that they behave like adults interested in governing a country.

But beyond that, "both sides" are not to blame for this mess, or for ultra-partisanship generally. Both sides have sins on their heads, but the sins are different and not symmetrical. The Dems are most certainly not guilty of "pushing toward their fringe" -- just the opposite -- or failing to work with the other side; their sin has been if anything that they've been so willing to try to come to terms with people who don't want to come to terms with them that they've given up many things they never should have, and allowed American politics as a whole to be dragged absurdly rightwards and into its current dysfunctional state. The Dems are apostles of centrism, and the living illustration of its flaws -- they even picked up and proudly drove forward the whole "balance" meme that has done so much to rot American political intellect and intuition -- but demanding that they do more now to "work with" the Republicans is essentially demanding that they renounce what little excuse for backbone they had and simply cave to absurdly intransigent and destructive demands from across the aisle. It will solve nothing, will do nothing but deepen the crisis of governance in the States and further damage the country's reputation.

The problem with partisan intransigence is at the current time a conservative one, and has been for forty years*. The TP'ers are not the first example of it, just the most ridiculous. They are a culmination of how partisan the Republicans have become, and are plainly a phenomenon that their own party cannot or will not renounce. Solving this problem won't eliminate sin and error from the American political landscape... but the immediate problem is not that "both sides" have flaws, it is that one side has decided to deliberately and maliciously sabotage the process of governance. That is a far bigger problem that whatever flaws can be pinned on "both sides."

(* This is not to say that progressives may not eventually start to emulate it. The parallel universe of conservative think-tanks and media outlets, for instance, is starting to gain traction as a model on the other side of the aisle. That's a concern, too; admittedly the centre-left version has yet to start dealing in the fact-free Bizarro World propaganda characteristic of the right, but the cleaving of thought and speech into two separate and antagonistic worlds cannot be good. But this is in its early stages, far from being far enough along to have become characteristic of liberal politics.)