Opinion
Join The Times' book club. This month's selection: "Cadillac Desert"
Opinion Top of the Ticket

Government dysfunction, part 1: The unaddressed 'sequester' mess

First, members of Congress set a trap that would bite hard if they failed to break the political gridlock and come up with a grand bargain on the budget. Then, having failed, they let the trap spring shut. And now, they continue to blunder and bluster as the country remains locked in the vise grip of the so-called sequester.

It is not in the news much anymore, but the automatic across-the-board cuts – the spur to legislative action that resulted in no action – continue to kick in. In the aftermath of the monster tornado that struck Oklahoma last week, a detail that went largely unnoticed was that federal money for emergency relief had been slashed by $1 billion because of the sequester. The disasters won’t stop, but the money might run out.

Meanwhile, the budget for the National Institutes of Health has fallen by nearly $2 billion. That means hundreds of fewer grants for research into new ways to prevent or treat diseases.

As the wildfire season approaches, the U.S. Forest Service is asking 41 states to return millions of dollars that are part of a revenue-sharing scheme that goes back to the days of Teddy Roosevelt. Thanks to sequestration, the Forest Service says it cannot afford to share anymore.

The list, of course, goes on and on – from nice things we can live without if we must, such as the Blue Angels air shows and some exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution, to things some people literally may not be able to live without, such as feeding programs and healthcare assistance.

Even though the federal deficit is dropping – due, in particular, to the increase in taxes for the rich that kicked in on Jan. 1 – Congress remains mired in tired rhetoric and false premises about overspending and big government. Instead of wasting time bloviating about tea party fantasies, our leaders should get busy cleaning up the mess they have made by failing to do their jobs.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • Apple slips billions through loopholes of U.S. tax laws

    Apple slips billions through loopholes of U.S. tax laws

    Apple, America’s richest, most innovative consumer technology company, is also the most creative in hiding billions of dollars in profits from the taxman, according to congressional investigators. But on Tuesday in testimony before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Apple CEO...

  • IRS tea party targeting "scandal" does not live up to the name

    IRS tea party targeting "scandal" does not live up to the name

    Now that more extensive, dispassionate reporting has been done about the "scandal” at the IRS, it is abundantly obvious that what is being called “targeting” of tea party organizations and other conservative groups was the result of bureaucratic confusion, not political conspiracy.

  • Memorial Day 1919: 'What shall be for memory?'

    Memorial Day 1919: 'What shall be for memory?'

    As a history buff, I like browsing through old newspapers (not to mention archives) seeking links to the present, which led me to dust off the Times' editorial from Memorial Day 1919 - the first commemoration following the end of World War One.

  • Opposing the TPP makes no sense in California

    Opposing the TPP makes no sense in California

    The two leading contenders in next year's campaign to represent California in the U.S. Senate have been staunch supporters of President Obama. But both Democratic candidates, state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, have spoken out against one of Obama's top remaining priorities:...

  • Trying to house L.A.'s homeless veterans is a complex, lengthy process

    Trying to house L.A.'s homeless veterans is a complex, lengthy process

    As we honor the dead on this Memorial Day, it's worth remembering as well the living veterans of military service who have no homes except sidewalk encampments or the occasional shelter bed, whose lives are so wracked by mental illness, addictions or physical disabilities that they are essentially...

  • The unknown helicopter

    The unknown helicopter

    Jeff Houlihan first noticed the helicopter in 1977, perched on top of a 40-foot steel tower at Rialto Municipal Airport. He could tell it was a Huey, used in Vietnam, but no one could explain how it got to the top of the tower. He could tell it had received enemy gunfire — it was spattered with...

Comments
Loading