What's the Sequester Anyway and Do You Care About It?

4 years ago

There's a word that's been floating around political circles that I've been avoiding writing about. Sequester. There, I said it.

Frankly, most people don't have passionate reactions to the sequester as they do with say, gun control. And the sequester is not something as relatable as say, preschool for all.

And most people's eyes just glaze over when you mention the word: sequester.

What exactly is a sequestration, anyway?

Okay, since no one wants to ask what the sequester is, I'll explain it to you in a nutshell: the sequester is an across the board package of budget cuts that are going to take effect on March 1, for a total of $1.2 trillion over the next ten years-- unless Republicans and Democrats can work something out in the next week to either raise the debt limit or to agree to some less drastic program cuts. ABC News has an explainer, as does the Washington Post.

Dollars and Scissors, Shutterstock

So, if you can't pay, you don't play, right?

Slashing government programs left and right might sound good to some people, but think about what could happen: shut downs in federal services, work furloughs and layoffs for teachers, law enforcement and government employees. The military alone would lose $34 billion, causing hundreds of thousands of people to lose their jobs. Budget cuts could cause delays in air travel and weaken background checks for gun purchases.

As you might expect, Republicans tend to be pushing for budget cuts and Democrats are using this as leverage to raise the debt limit and push tax reforms for the wealthiest Americans.

Speaker of the House John Boehner wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal blaming President Obama for the sequester:

In a bit of irony, President Obama stood Tuesday with first responders who could lose their jobs if the policy goes into effect. Most Americans are just hearing about this Washington creation for the first time: the sequester. What they might not realize from Mr. Obama's statements is that it is a product of the president's own failed leadership.

President Obama's Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer writes on the White House blog that it's Congressional Republicans who are to blame for the sequester by refusing to approve the president's plans:

The President has laid out a specific plan with detailed cuts to avoid the sequester and reduce the deficit in a balanced way by cutting spending, reforming entitlements and closing tax loopholes for the wealthiest and big corporations - loopholes not available to the middle class -- and Congressional Democrats have put forward a balanced approach as well.

The only party unwilling to compromise to avoid these devastating cuts are Congressional Republicans, who would rather see our recovery and middle class economic security be put at risk than close one tax loophole for big corporations and the wealthiest.

Are you following the sequester at all? Does this make sense to you? Or does it sound like another case of political posturing?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.

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