Fan mail, of a sort, for the ‘sequester’

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There’s little agreement about anything regarding the “sequester” except that the $85 billion in cuts to federal spending this year will be implemented starting Friday.

As The Times’ editorialized Thursday: “The irony is that the sequester was designed to prod a hopelessly divided Congress to work out a smarter approach to its budget programs.” Instead, “because the sequester hits almost every federal account equally, rather than targeting the least essential ones, some valuable programs and the people who rely on them will be needlessly affected. In short, all pain, no gain.”

Dozens of letter writers weighed in this week on the subject. A number see a dire outcome.


Diana Dixon-Davis of Chatsworth predicts:

“The sequester rules will be taking food out of the mouths of millions of home-bound elderly and disabled (Meals on Wheels), preschool children (Head Start programs) and poor school-age children (government-subsidized breakfast and lunch programs) so that the Republican Party can protect the loopholes and tax deductions of a few wealthy individuals, so that they don’t lose their private-chef-prepared lobster on their private business jets.”

From San Diego, Anthony Dunn also questioned the application of the cuts:

“Why is it when our government has money problems, the first thing it does is lay off the rank and file? Wouldn’t it be better to lay off the high and middle managers, with their staffs, for a day each week? Who’d miss them? One day without any of those managers would not impact the operation of the government.”

Sandra Goldman of Santa Monica worries about the long-term consequences:

“What happens after sequestration and more jobs are lost? The Fed’s Ben Bernanke acknowledges deficit-reduction policies are already in place and the $85 billion in planned cuts this year will hurt our long-term deficit. The GOP wants to shrink the government, producing devastation on all government services, from cuts in pay to our military men and women, delays at airports and courts, cuts in funding for food, air and water safety, not to mention cuts to R&D; and education. And when federal and defense employees are furloughed or unemployed, what will happen to them? Job loss does not spur the economy; it sinks it.”


Paul Mittelbach of Los Angeles thinks there could be a different outcome:

“If the sequester in fact goes into effect, President Obama may want to cite the old truism that whatever happens in the United States happens in California first -- in this case, electing opposition-proof Democratic majorities to both houses of the Legislature. With Republicans in Congress still willing, in contempt of American public opinion and in the name of a defunct economic ideology, to knock GDP down by half a percentage point and jack up unemployment and general misery, the president should throw down the gauntlet for the next congressional and Senate elections. Just as Californians finally cried ‘Enough!’ to the years of budget shenanigans, many Americans next time, at long last, may do the same.”

But not everyone buys the warnings of doom. Many letter writers see cutbacks as necessary.

Writes Tim Mayeda from Yorba Linda:

“With threats of three-hour waits at airports, porous borders and landlocked aircraft carriers, the administration is creating yet another crisis to pursue its agenda. We all hoped that Congress would find a better and more intelligent process to cut spending. However, the proposed $85 billion cut simply resets the budget to previous spending levels. During the ‘fiscal cliff’ crisis, Congress passed a historic tax increase. Despite promises that ‘only the rich’ would be affected, every working family saw a 2% decrease in their take-home pay. Now we are being told by a panicked administration that government services will virtually cease to function if they are forced to absorb cuts of a few percent. It is not unreasonable to ask our government to make the same hard decisions as your average American family.”

Henry Wener of Cherry Valley blames the legislators:

“So [Transportation Secretary] Ray LaHood is complaining he has to cut air-traffic controllers if sequestration goes through. Hey Ray, what about the millions for the Alaska sightseeing train? Or the sidewalk to nowhere in Florida? Endless government waste…. They all have to spend money because they have little else to do except raise money, take money, pay off supporters and snooze during hearings.”


And Felice Sussman of Los Alamitos, like many others, is fed up with the whole mess:

“All parties to the sequester fiasco seem to be acting like toddlers -- whiny, irrational, unreasonable, with an automatic ‘no’ to every suggestion. I say we treat them like toddlers.... My vote is to permanently take away their salary on a pro-rated basis for every day until they can ‘play fair’ and come to an agreement.”


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