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The [Thursday] Papers

"President Barack Obama and his officials are doing their best to drum up public concern over the shock wave of spending cuts that could strike the government in just days. So it's a good time to be alert for sky-is-falling hype," AP reports.

For example:

"Education Secretary Arne Duncan says teacher layoffs have already begun, but he has not backed up that claim and school administrators say no pink slips are expected before May, for the next school year, if the budget crisis persists.

"This stuff is real," he said last week. "Schools are already starting to give teachers notices."

"Asked to provide backup for Duncan's assertion, spokesman Daren Briscoe said it was based on 'an unspecified call he was on with unnamed persons,' and the secretary might not be comfortable sharing details.

"Briscoe referred queries about layoffs to the American Association of School Administrators. Noelle M. Ellerson, an assistant director of the organization, said Monday that in her many discussions with superintendents at the group's just-completed annual meeting, she heard of no layoffs of teachers. While everyone is bracing for that possibility down the road, she said, 'not a single one I spoke with had already issued pink slips.'

"Most school district budgets for the next school year won't be completed for two months, she said, meaning any layoff notices would come in early to mid-May. 'No one had yet acted.'"

That doesn't mean the potential for pain isn't real, just that the administration's loose relationship with the facts leaves it with little credibility as an authoritative source on the whys and wherefores of sequestration.

(Obama himself is lying about the origins of sequestration, according to both Bob Woodward's extensive reporting, which was recalled in this Washington Post fact-check last fall, and, according to the New York Times, contemporaneous news accounts.)

But to suggest that estimated budget cuts of $44 billion to $85 billion out of a $1.2 $3.8 trillion budget is merely "a pile of crumbs" is pure sophistry; the fact that $85 billion pales in comparison to the total budget doesn't make it any less huge, but this is how journalists - and politicians - often conceive of large abstract numbers. For example, if the budget was $2.2$4.8 trillion, would $85 billion in budget cuts hurt even less? No. Whoever is on the receiving end of those cuts will still be . . . on the receiving end of those cuts. Or, to look at it another way, if your boss cut your paycheck by 10%, would it hurt you less if your company was a $2 billion concern instead of a $1 billion concern?

And if the sequestration's budget cuts can be accomplished without hurting people, then the president and Congress did a terrible job creating sequestration because it was supposed to cause a result so devastating that they would be forced to come to a budget agreement to make sure it never happened.

Not that I'm discounting the possibility that the president is doing it wrong:

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See also:
* The Sequestering of Barack Obama
* Here We Go Again

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And:
* Tribune: Illinois Braces For Looming Federal Cuts
* Tribune: FAA: Sequestration Could Force O'Hare Tower, Runway To Close At Times
* Tribune: Illinois Hospitals Brace For Cuts

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Then there's Roger Simon being silly in the Sun-Times:

"All sorts of things will be cut under a sequester: border security, airport security, Head Start, public housing support, NASA, special education, the FBI, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and national defense.

"But do you know what does not get cut? Take a guess. That's right: The salaries of senators and representatives do not get cut under sequester."

Therefore, he writes, "bring it on!"

Because, somehow, slashing Head Start would spite Congress.

See, politicians no longer frighten him, Simon writes, because "we" survived Vietnam, Watergate and disco.

Ah ha ha ha! So funny.

But wait: We did?

My recollection is that 50,000-plus died in Vietnam, and we're still living in many ways under the fallout of both Watergate and disco, but maybe my memory is fuzzy. Or maybe it's Simon who survived. Good for him. It's always entertaining from the box seats.

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Plus: Duckworth To Take Pay Cut If Sequester Happens.

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And then there's Rahm. (Cue the Maude theme song; I'll do the parody lyrics if someone else does the music and video editing.)

"The mayor said security screeners will be cut back at O'Hare and other transportation would be effected," CBS2 Chicago reports.

And that makes sense.

But . . .

"People going shopping will feel the effects," CBS2 "reports," based solely on Rahm's White House talking point.

"What is reliability when a mother or a father or somebody else shows up at a grocery store?" Emanuel said. "We all assume food safety. Well, there is an inspector ensuring that food safety. So from O'Hare to our manufacturing in our food area, you are going to find out how important the security and safety comes from the federal government."

If the president allowed food safety inspection to be compromised by sequestration cuts, he'd probably be impeached. C'mon! He'd cut food stamps and all other manner of aid to the poor before he ever threatened the safety of America's dinner tables, and Rahm knows it.

CBS2 apparently, though, doesn't. That claim should have been challenged, as it has been by a group of Republican senators from rural, food-growing states.

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So is sequestration a big deal? Yes. We're not likely to see the worst-case scenarios put forward by the Obama administration, but services will be cut, people will be hurt and the economy will suffer. In many ways, that's business as usual, but in this case, it's business as usual in one fell swoop.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Downright birdy.



Permalink

Posted on February 28, 2013


MUSIC - Fan Note: Malcolm Young's AC/DC.
TV - Trump FCC Opens Corporate Media Merger Floodgates.
POLITICS - Illinois GOP Puts Voter Data At Risk.
SPORTS - The Connor Barf Game.

BOOKS - Inside The Book Of The Dead.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Record Waterfall At Two Rivers.


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