Analysis: The Shameful Sequester Vote

trekandshoot/Shutterstock.com

The morality play known as "Sequester" is entering its third act this week, and what a spectacularly awful and pointless piece of theater it has been. In the pre-curtain progloue, the president cuts a deal with the GOP to avoid a debt ceiling crisis in 2011. They schedule a law so stupid, so unfair, and so blatantly misguided that Washington could ever allow it to become law, right? 

Right!?

Wrong. Act I opened in March of this year, on the eve of sequester's across-the-board spending cuts. With the parties as entrenched as ever -- Democrats: "Raise taxes"; Republicans: "Never" -- the unthinkable law didn't just become thinkable. It actually became the law. 

In Act II, the White House warned of sequester's chaos -- flight delays! furloughs! relentless cable news coverage! -- but as the spending cuts faded in slowly, the effects were small, and people began to wonder whether the they will have any effect whatsoever.

But now it's Act III, and Chekhov's gun has gone right off: FAA furloughs and the specter of massive flight delays screamed across cable news tickers this week. Congress immediately voted to overturn the FAA cuts.

This vote is bad for Democrats, but more importantly, it's bad for democracy. It's bad for Democrats because, as Jon Chait notes, excluding the most painful cuts from sequester obviates the whole point of sequester. Sequester was supposed to be so stark and painful nobody could stand it; not pretty painful but easily tolerated with some fixes. If Republicans can pick and choose which cuts to reverse, Democrats will have utterly lost their grand strategy to force the GOP to accept higher taxes.

But, far more importantly, the vote was bad for democracy. A Congress reacts to flight delays but not to low-income families losing housing vouchers and unemployment check cash is a body of elites representing elites.

Read the rest at TheAtlantic.com.

(Image via trekandshoot/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.