Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Observations from the Window 2.20

In a little over a week the sequester returns. Sequester is a word that will go down i history as a euphemism for totally self-inflicted unnecessary economic pain on a national scale. It's also one of the reasons politics isn't exactly my favorite thing right now. While a majority of the American people worry about jobs the Republican party obsesses over spending cuts that will cut those jobs. You think letting the auto industry crash and burn would have hurt the economy watch the ripple effects of cutting government spending to the bone.*

A few examples off the top of my head. Police, fire, teachers, and EMT will see job cuts around the country. Those free national museums your'e going to visit in Washington? Closed. The national parks on your itinerary this summer? Closed. If you are flying anywhere get to the airport early because the TSA lines will be unreal then once you get through pray that lonely air traffic controller at the end of a double shift is awake. Oh and be careful what you buy at the grocery store because there wont be as many meat, fish, and poultry inspectors, not that there are nearly enough now. Worried about the border and immigration? Worry some more because there will be fewer border guards. Traveling overseas legally? You better have your passport because it will probably take longer to get one and when you return be ready for longer waits at customs.

The Pentagon will see massive, probably necessary, cuts but at all the wrong places. We can keep fighting our wars, because the cost of them is not in the budget, but wont be able to hold military funerals at Arlington or pay for prosthetic limbs for disabled veterans.

You get the idea, it goes on and on. The problem is Congress members will have none of these problems because a majority are rich anyway. They have the best healthcare in the world and pensions that set them up for life. I wont even get into the unlimited "campaign" contributions they now can take from corporations thanks to SCOTUS' Citizens United decision.

The hell I wont.

While you were out walking the dog or looking for a job SCOTUS quietly made a minor announcement yesterday. It seems they have decided to hear a case brought by our friends at the Republican National Committee. Some of the few election fiance controls remaining are the amount of money individuals can donate to a candidate, currently $2,000, and the total an individual can donate to all parties or candidates in any election cycle, currently $123,000. In a lower court decision Judge Janice Brown, one of the most conservative judges in the country, said that lifting these limits would corrupt the system even more than it now is.** Not good enough for the GOP, they may be fiscally conservative when it comes to spending on you but they themselves want to drown in cash. The Supreme Court that gave them Citizens United is probably about to let them.

Was there another time in American history where an entire political party didn't care about anything but cold hard cash?

* OMB Report Pursuant to the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012

2/21 update - Yesterday USA Today had a good article about the effects the sequester would have on air travel. Each member of the FAA's work force will be furloughed one day out of every two weeks while customs employees will be off 12 to 14 days each over the course of the year. Taken together all the cuts will add up to three hours to the time it will take to get through an airport before and after an international flight. Also the Department of Defense announced 800,000 civilian employees will be laid-off should the cuts take effect. So much for the Republican Party's caring about jobs. The sequester could add two percentage points to the unemployment rate.