(21H) 12/31/13 1
In Washington, folks are celebrating a new bipartisan budget deal that saves us form another full round of reductions in federal spending mandated by the “sequester”.
The budget agreement was merely a necessity, caused by a revolt of the House. Without their votes the sequester became unsustainable. The sequester in contrast is an anomaly of modern government, a historic achievement in shrinking the size of Washington.
In context—Gramm and Rudman had a plan to restrain spending, Carter embraced zero-based budgeting, Reagan championed spending cuts, Gingrich produced reductions as speaker, and Clinton presided over a balanced budget. Yet none of them imposed fiscal discipline matching what the sequester accomplished in two years and promised to continue over the next eight—to the tune of $1 trillion in reduced non-entitlement spending.
In 2013, $84 billion was that year’s share of the overall reductions. If the usual practice had been followed the $84 billion reduction would have been spread over 10 years and much or all of it never imposed. The sequester cuts are automatic, which means neither action by congress nor the president’s signature is needed annually. And relief form its spending caps is impossible without the acquiescence of republicans.
The sequester has already slashed domestic programs he cherishes and slaps a death warrant on his plans to devote untold billions to grandiose projects such as universal pre-K education and a national network of “manufacturing innovation centers”. The author of the sequester was obama’s budget director Jack Lew. It was meant to force a congressional super-committee to agree to a package of spending cuts and tax hikes—or else the sequester would take over. Obama claimed the idea came from congress, only later conceding it was indeed a product of white house brainstorming. At one point, he threatened to veto any bill tampering with the sequester.
It was the defection of republicans, led by chairman McKeon of the Armed Services committee that shattered the pro-sequester majority. The sequester intruded on their role in shaping the budget. The result: the sequester was suddenly vulnerable. The budget fashioned by Ryan and Murray becomes minimally acceptable. It provides $63 billion in sequester relief in 2014 and 2015.
The sequester isn’t dead. In the fight to restrain government spending it’s a wounded warrior. It’s supposed to resume its menu of automatic cuts in 2015
source—weekly standard, fred barnes