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How the U.S. Sequester Will Hurt Science and Tech 522

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-are-politicians-bad-at-politicianizing dept.
Later today, the U.S. government will enter the sequestration process, a series of across-the-board budget cuts put into place automatically because U.S. politicians are bad at agreeing on things. "At that moment, somewhere in the bowels of the Treasury Department, officials will take offline the computers that process payments for school construction and clean energy bonds to reprogram them for reduced rates. Payments will be delayed while they are made manually for the next six weeks." The cuts will directly affect science- and tech-related spending throughout the country. Tom Levenson writes, '[s]equester cuts will strike bluntly across the scientific community. The illustrious can move a bit of money around, but even in large labs, a predictable result will be a reduction in the number of graduate student and post – doc slots available — and as those junior and early-stage researchers do a whole lot of the at-the-bench level research, such cuts will have an immediate effect on research productivity. The longer term risk is obvious too: fewer students and post-docs mean on an ongoing drop from baseline in the amount of work to be done year over year.' The former director of the National Institute of Health says it will set back medical science for a generation. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has laid out how the cuts will affect the U.S. space program. He said, "The Congress wasn’t able to do what they were supposed to do, so we’re going to suffer." The sequester will also prevent billions of dollars from flowing into the tech industry. This comes at a time when there's a pressing need in the tech sector for professionals versed in the use of Linux, and salaries for those workers are on the rise.
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How the U.S. Sequester Will Hurt Science and Tech

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  • Total BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:01PM (#43045605)

    Your payroll tax increased 2% on Jan 1, if you work. That is a 2% paycut to you, period.

    The sequestor is effectively a 1% reduction in spending this year for the Federal government.

    Translation: You need to do with less and not complain, if you force the government to reduce spending by a tiny amount doom will come for you.

    • Re:Total BS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ultracompetent (2852717) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:09PM (#43045697) Homepage
      In total agreement. Anyone can shave 1 to 2 percent of a budget .. In fact as you so rightly point out, we all were asked to do this in 2013. The thing that gets me is how Obama got away with raising a regressive tax like the payroll tax and didn't get slaughtered in the media for raising taxes on the poor and middle class.
      • Re:Total BS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sycodon (149926) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:16PM (#43045805)

        And it's not even a real cut. It's merely a reduction to the increase.

        Baseline Budgeting ensures that ALL budgets increase by a certain percentage every year automatically. This is the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing the budget. The dollar value of the increases will get bigger and bigger as each subsequent increase is a percentage of large budget.

        So when you hear people whining about a 2% cut, the are actually whining that they won't get the usual X% increase.

        Baseline Budgeting needs to be killed...with fire if possible.

        • But then you'll just find budgets effectively shrinking year-on-year, even if the dollar amount stays the same. Inflation does that.

          • Re:Total BS (Score:5, Insightful)

            by LDAPMAN (930041) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:32PM (#43045975)

            GOOD!! If the program needs to maintain or increase then our representatives need to actively decide to increase funding. Funding should NOT be automatic.

            • GOOD!! If the program needs to maintain or increase then our representatives need to actively decide to increase funding. Funding should NOT be automatic.

              They do and funding isn't automatic under the current system. That's why we have a government shutdown if no appropriation is passed by Congress and signed by the President (or repassed by Congressional supermajority over a Presidential veto.) Even so-called "non-discretionary" spending isn't automatic.

              Baseline budgeting is simply a matter of how budget p

              • by gtall (79522)

                Yep. Also, it would make more sense for government to do 2-year budgets instead of doing all the leg work every single year.

                • by RoccamOccam (953524) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:37PM (#43047487)
                  ... and they should establish budgets. The Democratic-controlled Senate has not approved a budget in 4 years.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by TFloore (27278)

                    This is one of those "Lying with facts" things that needs more context to correctly understand.

                    The House of Representatives is currently controlled by a Republican majority, 232 (R) vs 200 (D). A simple majority is all that is required to pass any Bill in the House of Representatives, therefore, so long as the Republican caucus can keep its members in line, they can pass anything, no matter how much Democrats hate it, with no thought at all about compromise.

                    The Senate, on the other hand, has a Democrat majo

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      by RoccamOccam (953524)
                      No, it is not lying with facts. I appreciate your adding context, but to pretend that the Democrats are resolved of their responsibility to put forth a budget proposal because of the possibility of being filibustered is propagandizing. It also ignores the fact that they didn't propose a budget when they controlled the Presidency, both houses of Congress, and had a virtual filibuster-proof majority. If they could get ObamaCare passed, then they could have passed a budget.
        • Re:Total BS (Score:5, Interesting)

          by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:35PM (#43046009) Homepage Journal
          That's what gets me.

          When I started looking a bit more closely at this, it isn't a cut at all. It is like you said...only a reduction in spending.

          Even with sequestration, we're on schedule to spend more this year than last year, just what we need.

          Obama got his tax increase....we all saw it in our paychecks in January. Why can't they start cutting...but in an INTELLIGENT manner?

          *SIGH*, you know...we really need to just stop...sweep EVERYONE out of Washington, no one in office can come back to it, and start over. Maybe then we'd have a chance going forward for a bit without all the crap that is currently entrenched in DC.

          Just start over with a whole new crowd with no one having seniority, no power clicks...etc. It is too bad that there was no periodic "clean the house" type provision in the Constitution where every few decades...whoosh, everyone there is out and must be replaced.

          • by Dins (2538550)

            Just start over with a whole new crowd with no one having seniority, no power clicks...etc. It is too bad that there was no periodic "clean the house" type provision in the Constitution where every few decades...whoosh, everyone there is out and must be replaced.

            I fully agree - and I agree with most posts above you in the thread. It would be awesome if we could throw EVERYONE out, say, once every 12 years or so and start fresh. But the people who would vote for that are the people who would be thrown out, so of course it's never gonna happen. Shameful...

          • Re:Total BS (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Culture20 (968837) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:46PM (#43046133)

            Obama got his tax increase....we all saw it in our paychecks in January. Why can't they start cutting...but in an INTELLIGENT manner?

            Because they want to make spending cuts as painful as possible so that they're the stalwart heroes fending them off. It's the Munchausen Sydrome by Proxy school of political thought.

          • My hope is that the sequester "happens", its terrible, and everyone then responds by voting folks out en masse for failing to figure out the difficult task of "how do I legislate like a grown person".

            The whole "lets all try to orchestrate drama and then blame the other person" thing has gotten old, and im kind of glad the sequester bluff has been "called" so to speak. Yes, I know Senate, its the Republicans' faults. Yes, House, I know its the Democrats' faults. Somehow 200 years of legislators have manag

          • I would agree, except for one problem. Most of these people were voted in in the first place. Which means if you sweep the lot out, guess what happens? The same caliber of dufus is just going to be voted back in again.

            Any given population gets the government they deserve. And a massive percentage of the US population are mindboggling ignorant about how the world works, think that their ignorant opinions should have equal value to those provided by actual experts in their respected fields, and think that

        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday March 01, 2013 @01:02PM (#43046363)

          And it's not even a real cut. It's merely a reduction to the increase.

          It is, in fact, a real cut to the currently-appropriated spending and the current spending rate. While it is often the case that reductions in projected increases are sold as "cuts" in government budgets, this is not one of the cases.

          Baseline Budgeting ensures that ALL budgets increase by a certain percentage every year automatically.

          The sequester has nothing to do with baseline budgeting, it has to do with cuts to funds that are already appropriated for the current period.

          Also, nothing in the federal budget happens automatically. If an appropriation isn't passed for each year, there are no funds, period, full stop. Baseline budgeting has to do with how budget proposals are drafted and presented, it doesn't mean that if no legislative action is taken an appropriation automatically remains in effect indefinitely.

          • by sycodon (149926)

            The Budgeting process is largely on automatic pilot. The proposed budget is generated with the baseline increases included and then attempts to change it are met with howls of "draconian cuts!" and "taking food from children and elderly".

      • Re:Total BS (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:17PM (#43045833)

        Oh, that's easy. Because first he lowered it at the start of 2011, to rob Social Security of its only source of funding and buy votes in the 2012 election, and then he let the cut lapse.

        The "sequester cuts" are so shallow that all they do is decrease the amount by which spending is increasing this year. This year's spending is still higher than last year's, even after the "cuts."

        Obama's biggest fear is that we'll see that everything is just fine without that 1%, and then maybe we'll start demanding more decreases.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          > Obama's biggest fear is that we'll see that everything is just fine without that 1%, and then maybe we'll start demanding more decreases.

          Which is why he has to make the cut hurt. Instead of minimizing waste (reducing travel budgets, etc.) he's going to cut positions with that 1% ...
          • Re:Total BS (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday March 01, 2013 @01:14PM (#43046495)

            Which is why he has to make the cut hurt. Instead of minimizing waste (reducing travel budgets, etc.) he's going to cut positions with that 1% ...

            Actually, the sequester mechanism, when it was passed by Congress and signed by the President as part of a short-term funding agreement was designed by both sides to be painful because both sides wanted it that way so that it would be a disincentive to the other side to refuse to compromise on an actual budget agreement that would deal with specifics of addressing budget priorities going forward.

            In a sense, it was a version of mutually-assured destruction that went into effect if bilateral action wasn't taken to avert it.

            The problem with this is MAD may work when you have to take an active step to trigger it, it doesn't work as well when you have to have to jointly avoid it, because its easy to convince yourself that the other side will back down if you wait a little longer, so you don't have to compromise.

      • Re:Total BS (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:46PM (#43046131)

        The thing that gets me is how Obama got away with raising a regressive tax like the payroll tax and didn't get slaughtered in the media for raising taxes on the poor and middle class.

        Nice revisionist history there. The temporary payroll tax reduction act was allowed to expire by the dysfunctional house of representatives. They used it as a bargaining chip in their attempt to renew the temporary tax relief package that directly benefits the top 1% of income earners. Of course hypocrisy surfaced after the "fiscal conservatives" used the need to reduce the budget deficit as an excuse for letting this tax reduction expire even though these same individuals are still actively pushing to make their own temporary tax relief act permanent.

        I single out one lobbyist in particular - Grover Norquist. True to form, he actually argued that the expiration of the payroll relief bill was NOT a tax increase, whereas the expiration of the Bush tax cut for the wealthy is undeniably a tax increase.

        It takes some balls to place blame on solely Obama for increasing the payroll tax despite the fact that there are overwhelming amount of written and recorded documentation that shows it was the opposition at fault.

    • Re:Total BS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Weezul (52464) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:13PM (#43045757)

      Just fyi [slashdot.org], the scientist whose budgets are being cut agree with you [nature.com]. We cannot adequately fund science, education, and social services while gratuitously financing gratuitous military spending and asinine wars on drugs, brown people, etc.

      We should first cut it all by 10% per year for a few years, make all those federal contractors show declining profits despite their lobbyists efforts. We should then evaluate which government financed industries tightened their belts but still did the work and which just pocketed the same amount while cutting real work. Any industries in the second category should continue getting cut.

      • by Solandri (704621)

        Just fyi, the scientist whose budgets are being cut agree with you. We cannot adequately fund science, education, and social services while gratuitously financing gratuitous military spending and asinine wars on drugs, brown people, etc.

        We should first cut it all by 10% per year for a few years, make all those federal contractors show declining profits despite their lobbyists efforts. We should then evaluate which government financed industries tightened their belts but still did the work and which just

    • Re:Total BS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pla (258480) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:21PM (#43045873) Journal
      Your payroll tax increased 2% on Jan 1, if you work.

      Key point there, if you work. Guess how those mysteriously unaffected by the payroll tax increase tend to vote?

      Follow the money.


      / Not a Republican.
    • by Spazmania (174582)

      Oh noes, payments will be delayed. Engage eyeroll. Folks, payments to contractors and grantees from the federal government are usually late. The timeliness is never predictable, a factor that's programmed in to the cost structure for anyone who does business with the federal government. More tardiness will have no impact whatsoever.

    • And it's not even really a 1% reduction in spending, because this year's budget represents $100B+ in increases over last year's. The "sky is falling" horseshit over this is amazing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ewieling (90662)

      Your payroll tax increased 2% on Jan 1, if you work. That is a 2% paycut to you, period.

      This simply rolls back the temporary 2% payroll tax decrease from 2 years ago.

    • Re:Total BS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DCFusor (1763438) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:47PM (#43046149) Homepage
      Ever notice that the only things they ever cut are the services, never the wasted people who do nothing useful? It's blackmail, pure and simple for keeping the status quo that benefits useless paper pushers.
    • Re:Total BS (Score:4, Informative)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:51PM (#43046201)

      According to the CBO, the cuts will have no signifigant effect on the economy. But the Rise is Social security taxes deffinately will. They also say that:
      "We project that debt held by the public will reach 76 percent of GDP this year, the largest percentage since 1950. And, under current laws, we project that debt in 2023 will be 77 percent of GDP—far higher than the 39 percent average seen over the past 40 years—and will be on an upward path.

      First, high debt means that the crowding out of capital investment will be greater, that lawmakers will have less flexibility to use tax and spending policies to respond to unexpected challenges (like a recession or war), and that there will be a heightened risk of a fiscal crisis in which the government would be unable to borrow at affordable interest rates. "
      http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43943 [cbo.gov]

      etc... etc...
      We HAVE to cut spending. Period. If the only way to do it is to let this sequestration process proceed, then fine.

  • And Yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by medcalf (68293) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:01PM (#43045615) Homepage
    There isn't a single Federal department that will not spend more money this year even with the sequester than they spent last year. The $85B in cuts from the sequester is somehow magical: the whole government — every basic function — apparently falls apart without this sliver of money (in a $3.6T overall spending plan), again noting that they will still spend more money than last year, even with the sequester. Amazing, really.

    Wait! You don't think.... No! Surely politicians wouldn't play games with government services for political gain? Say it isn't so!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jhon (241832)

      This Jan saw the government increase spending over $300 billion dollars alone. Didn't see jobs dramatically increase. Yet, Maxine Waters scare-mongers that we'll lose 170 thousand (she stupidly said MILLION, but give her the benefit of the doubt) by cutting ~$80B.

      What I want to know is why we didn't see jobs increase by 600k plus since January?

    • Re:And Yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:17PM (#43045839)

      NIH budget in 2011: $30.9 billion
      NIH budget in 2012: $31.9 billion
      NIH budget requested for 2013: $30.8 billion
      NIH cuts from the sequester: $1.6 billion
      NIH budget after sequester (assuming 2012 levels continued): $30.3 billion (which LESS THAN 2011)

      Accounting for 2% inflation, the real NIH budget after sequestration in 2011 dollars: $29.1 billion

      It's called math, and you are wrong.

      • by medcalf (68293)
        Fine. There is one department whose budget will be a tiny bit less. Do you argue with the basic premise that the government will, overall, spend more money than last year even after the sequester, and that this is hardly some epic disaster?
        • by Dins (2538550)

          Oh, but it is an epic disaster! Just ask Obama!

          In reality, these "cuts" (which aren't actually even real cuts as noted above) will have almost no effect on the population as a whole. But everything possible will be done to spin this like it is an epic disaster so that the cuts are reversed, spending is even increased, and taxes are raised yet again.

          Children will go hungry! Old people will die! Canada will probably invade! Dogs and Cats living together! MASS HYSTERIA!

      • by operagost (62405)
        I eagerly await the proof for Dr. Hypebole's statement that the loss of less than 6% of funding (assuming your 2% inflation estimate is correct, which it isn't) will "set back medical science for a generation".
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      There isn't a single Federal department that will not spend more money this year even with the sequester than they spent last year. The $85B in cuts from the sequester is somehow magical: the whole government â" every basic function â" apparently falls apart without this sliver of money (in a $3.6T overall spending plan), again noting that they will still spend more money than last year, even with the sequester. Amazing, really.

      Your point being that.... nothing bad is going to happen?
      Because if that's what you're trying to say, you might as well come right out with it.

      I think you're missing the fact that the sequester isn't x% off the total budget. It's x% off of almost every item in the budget.
      How long is your landlord going to accept 95% of your rent bill?
      How long are your pets going to eat 95% of their regular diet?
      How long are you going to spend 95% of the maintanence required for your car?

      • by medcalf (68293)
        Technically, it's not at the PPA level. It's a level higher, so no, it's not every program in the budget, actually. There are some that will not have that cover (because they're small), but most of the cuts allow for a lot more flexibility in how they are cut than it would at first appear. As it happens, the President is using that flexibility to make the cuts as bad as possible, rather than as easy as possible. So I'm saying that nothing bad must happen, but that doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen.
      • Re:And Yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jhon (241832) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:40PM (#43046047) Homepage Journal

        "I think you're missing the fact that the sequester isn't x% off the total budget. It's x% off of almost every item in the budget.
        How long is your landlord going to accept 95% of your rent bill?
        How long are your pets going to eat 95% of their regular diet?
        How long are you going to spend 95% of the maintanence required for your car?"

        Wrong questions to ask. The correct questions to ask are:

        Since you spend more than you make:

        How long can you pay your rent using your credit cards?
        How long can you buy pet food before your credit runs out?
        How long can you maintain your before your credit runs out?

        An even BETTER question to ask is:

        "Why the hell are you spending so much more than you make????"

        • Re:And Yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday March 01, 2013 @01:55PM (#43047023) Journal

          An even BETTER question to ask is:

          "Why the hell are you spending so much more than you make????"

          Metaphors comparing personal and government spending tend to fall apart once you reach that question, because personal and government spending do not fundamentally operate the same way.

          So without getting into interests rates or international trade flows, the short version is that you spend more than you make as an investment in the future.

          The only real crisised have been the ones manufactured by the Republican party.
          The US Government isn't broke and this wasn't a problem that needed to be solved post-haste.

        • Re:And Yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by guspasho (941623) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:55PM (#43047701)

          Republicans. Seriously, are we this short-sighted? When Clinton was president the budget deficit was a big deal too. Then what did Clinton do? He fucking balanced the budget. We could have started paying down the debt then and there. Gore ran on a platform of doing just that. Bush ran on a platform of trillion-dollar tax cuts, increased spending, and wars in the middle east. Guess who people voted for, and guess who ran up the bill? And why was this never an issue when Bush was in office, running up the debt? Because as Cheney said, "Deficits don't matter." At least not when Republicans are running the place and they get to set their own agenda. But if a Democrat gets in office, they will do everything they can to derail their mandate by screaming about deficits, even though it's the least important issue and completely counterproductive.

          Don't blame Democrats, this is 100% a Republican-created crisis. Republicans are as fiscally-irresponsible as they come.

      • by operagost (62405)
        If you're living paycheck to paycheck like that, you should expect disaster.
  • And still... (Score:5, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:03PM (#43045633)
    the federal government will spend $14,000,000,000 more this year than last, even with these "cuts."
    • Wrong by 93% (Score:3, Informative)

      by thrich81 (1357561)

      Come on idiots, (not the poster, who probably just made a typo, but the mods who sent it up to +5) -- the TOTAL cumulative government debt is about $14 trillion. The deficit for this year will be in the neighborhood (probably under) of $1 trillion, still a large number but we need to keep the facts straight in these discussions.

  • Where is the quadrillion dollar platinum coin? We need it now!

    • by msauve (701917)
      Make one for everyone! Why wait for inflation, when you can have it now?
  • A generation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:05PM (#43045649)

    A less than 3% cut in funding is going to set medical science back a generation? By that logic, if we were to increase funding by 3% (as we have more than done) we should have seen a generation's worth of progress. So where are my medical tricorders?

    Methinks somebody is fearmongering. I'll be the first to say cutting research funding is a dumb idea, but is it too much to ask that the former head of the NIH assess the situation based on the facts and not Chicken Little "the sky is falling" theater?

    • by Zibodiz (2160038)
      Exactly. Besides, in the past 20 years, no significant advancements have been made in practical medical practice. Sure, some scientists have come up with a few new ideas, but no real improvements have made their way to the consumer, and any new treatments that have, have been so ridiculously overpriced that nobody can afford them anyway (I've never seen insurance that covers 'experimental treatments'). Any new treatments (c'mon, you know you've seen a few headlines for breakthrough cancer treatments [slashdot.org] or c [slashdot.org]
  • Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by Weezul (52464) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:05PM (#43045657)

    Colin Macilwain. Science should be ready to jump off ‘the cliff’ [nature.com]. Nature 491, 639 (29 November 2012) doi:10.1038/491639a

    These aren't real scientists asking that government money stick around, but lobbyists for companies that feed upon science funding. Scientists love more government money of course, but many scientists understand that far must be cut, especially in military spending.

    Sequestration merely provides an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important. Our question should be : Do we decide "important" by consulting lobbyists or by looking at the work that gets done.

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:07PM (#43045671)

    It was "the government shutdown" a few years ago. And all sorts of people got on their soap box and blamed everyone else for it. Now it's called something else, the "sequester". And again let's point fingers and blame. However none of that has to do with the real problem - the US is spending more money than it takes in, spending more money than it can print, even, and has been doing this for YEARS. They scream at the federal banks to keep interest rates near zero to "stimulate the economy" meaning that everyone must bear the cost of the devaluation including those smart enough to put their money to work, and then they wonder why all the wealth is leaving the US dollar.

    The US will be buried under its Keynesian nightmare. I just hope it doesn't take the whole world with it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @01:26PM (#43046661)

      The US is fighting an economic war with the rest of the world, and it is winning. We are essentially pushing for a global economy, but doing it by crashing every other country's economy. We can do this because the US is the largest economy, the US Dollar was accepted very broadly, still is (for now) the reserve currency, and has moderately retained its value in comparison to other countries. Despite all the money the US has printed through the recession (2-3 Trillion, note this is not the same thing as the US deficit or debt), it is not really a huge percentage of the real total US money supply (the US stopped releasing their numbers a few decades ago, but everyone estimates them). The estimated real total US money supply is ~70 Trillion, so 3 Trillion is only a 4% increase over 4 years. Even with the US debt of 16 Trillion, it could print all that money and repay every last borrowed cent and only devalue the currency by ~20 percent. Of course it won't do this because all that debt keeps other countries very dependent upon the US and the US economy. That debt gives the US a big stick in negotiations, though nowhere near as big as the US Military's stick.

      Make no mistake, the US is aiming for global economic domination.

  • If there's one thing politicians are EXPERTS at, it's convincing the general public that money must keep flowing in for any and all of the projects they voted for, or else dire consequences will result.

    To step back and put these cuts into perspective.... Federal govt. is STILL spending something like $13 TRILLION dollars a year in deficit spending with the full effects of the sequester in place!

    The primary reason Obama is motivated to scare up people to put a stop to this and "work out a deal" is because t

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:30PM (#43045959) Homepage

      $13 TRILLION dollars a year in deficit spending

      Not even remotely close to accurate. It spends approximately $3.8 trillion in total this year, and of that about $900 billion was originally going to be borrowed.

      It's great to try to ensure all Americans have healthcare options available to them. But nobody has really tried, yet, to do anything about the massive (and constantly rising) COSTS of healthcare, which SOMEBODY gets the bill for, whether it's an uninsured individual or the insurance company covering that individual by govt. mandate.

      Actually, RomneyObamaCare (I call it that because Obama basically took Mitt Romney's plan in Massachusetts and made it national) has various attempts to do just that, to curb the growth in medical costs, most notably in reducing spending on unnecessary procedures. It's unclear if they'll work, but we haven't even had a chance to find out yet.

      The approach that was dismissed as unrealistically liberal, Medicare for All, did in fact mean that everyone would have had the benefit of Medicare's tough negotiating. It was a non-starter because the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals all opposed that.

  • by pla (258480) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:14PM (#43045769) Journal
    Cut it all - Starting with congresscritter pensions and benefits (don't get distracted by their salaries, just a drop in the bucket compared to their real cost).

    The problem with this whole sequester (aside from not going nearly far enough) comes from the whitehouse thinking themselves clever for having made an uncallable bluff - From assuming that the Republicans would never let the military suffer any real cuts. Well, whaddya know, in a surprising show of sanity, the larger principle of getting government spending under control trumped even their favorite special interest.

    Yeah, we (by which I mean fiscal conservatives, not to imply I would ever voluntarily associate myself with the GOP) would all rather see the real problems addressed - End social security, end security theater, and cut HHS and the DOD in half (at least). But this current farce? Hey, better than nothing, but at least it counts as a start.

    Cut. It. All!
  • BULLSHIT (Score:4, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:20PM (#43045863) Journal

    Really, how long are we going to swallow absolute FUD without question?

    The sequester is $1.2 trillion....OVER TEN YEARS. So $120 bill a year (I've seen it reported as $85 bill for this year).

    The idea - as promulgated by the spenders in Congress and White House - is that ANY cut in spending by the US gov't will radically and catastrophically affect (whatever service is important to the listener). This is a bald-faced lie.

    This morning, a senior administration official claimed that sequestration would CANCEL all military service person training for the rest of the year (outside of actually-deployed servicepeople). Seriously? A 5% cut in budget cancels 75% of a training schedule?

    One example: Obama/Tiger Golf Trip cost $989,207 to the Fed and $78,205 to local police...the average american household paid $1372 in income tax... So ~728 American households had to pay taxes for an entire year to fund the golf trip...

    And yet we're crying that we can't cut anything from the US budget? Really?
    My understanding - I'm not an economist - is that if we simply STOPPED programmed-increases in spending for 6 years, the US budget would be balanced. That doesn't seem that painful, given that most American businesses (except Wall Street, I suppose) have suffered far worse over the past 5 years already.

    On NPR this morning, they discussed the previous sequestration of 2% that happened in 1991. The bureaucrat they talked to discussed "how hard it was to implement this 2% cut in everything", using as an example a call he got from a Parks person, asking how they implement a 2% cut in service that scrapes bird shit off of channel buoys. His response was to "...only scrape 98% of the crap off".
    This, my friends, is what passes for both intelligent thought in government bureaucrats...either he (most likely) thought that was an ironic, humorous reply to what he felt was an unjust budget cutting (which it really wasn't) or he thought that was ACTUALLY a way to reduce his 'poop scraping' service costs by 2%.

    As much as they try to make it so, it's pretty simple: expenditure cannot exceed income. Period, full stop. ANY OTHER SOLUTION IS GAME-PLAYING.

    Oh, and for those with a party bias? I'll just remind everyone that this has been a problem for 50 years REGARDLESS of which party controlled Congress and the White House. It wouldn't be this bad, if both parties weren't generally colluding.

    • Re:BULLSHIT (Score:5, Informative)

      by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday March 01, 2013 @01:15PM (#43046511)

      It isn't a 5% budget cut. 85 billion is more like 9%.

      Add in the fact that some 66% of the budget is untouched SS, Medicare and debt payments it is in fact about a 25% cut on the rest of the budget.

      That's a pretty decent whack.

    • by gtall (79522)

      Yep, it turns out that a lot of military spending mirrors the rest of government spending, it gets sucked up in mandatory spending like pensions for service members, health care, etc. They cannot arbitrarily rewrite contracts either. So the amount they can actually cut gets concentrated on things they can control immediately like training, salaries, etc. That's why the cuts appear out of proportion to the total percentage cuts.

  • Show me the cuts (Score:4, Informative)

    by jamesl (106902) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:37PM (#43046023)

    Actually, the sequester doesn't cut federal spending at all, or rather it cuts it only in the Washington sense of any reduction from projected baseline increases is a cut. In reality, even if the sequester goes through, the federal government will spend more every single year.
    http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/fairy-tale-spending-cuts [cato.org]

    Spending will still go up, just not as much.

  • I care, but only a little. And at this point it's abotu securing myself and my family from any of the negative effects that will come.

    I think the whole sequester thing is dumb as hell. Always did.
    After playing poltical brinkmanship for years, they finally agree on one thing, and its this idiot piece of legislation.

    So I do care. But I have very little sympathy left. Because after passing this absolutely retarded "suicide pact" what did the country do?

    THEY RE-ELECTED ALL THE SAME IDIOTS AND SENT THEM RIGHT BA

  • During all the Chicken Little propaganda blitz, not a mention in any of the media outlets about the > $100B in wasteful spending that the Government Accountability Office found. Go to WSJ.com and search for the article "Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway". Last week Rand Paul returned $600k in surplus operating budget back to the Treasury, up from $500k he returned last year. I'm sure there are plenty of Congressmen(women) that could do the same. I'm sure they could if more of them actually had r

  • While I'm certain there is some truth that a small decrease in budget means some things might not happen (we're actually more resilient though... so I wouldn't say that "all things stop" like some are trying to say).... what about all the waste? I mean, you scratch your head about how our tax dollars are used to study arguably "stupid" things.... did you ever ask why that is? Do we really want those studies?

    If I give a "gift" of government dollars to "you" and you don't really have a plan.. in order to no

  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:51PM (#43046193) Journal

    Percentage-wise, we're shaving off about 8%:

    Broadly speaking, for 2013 the across-the-board cuts will mean about an 8.4 percent cut in most affected non-defense discretionary programs, a 7.5 percent cut in affected defense programs, an 8.0 percent cut in affected mandatory programs other than Medicare, and a 2.0 percent cut in Medicare provider payments.

    By an eerie coincidence, you can lose 8% of your body weight by decapitating yourself [answers.com]:

    An adult human cadaver head cut off around vertebra C3, with no hair, weighs on average somewhere between 4.5 and 5 kg, typically constituting around 8% of the body mass.

  • by moeinvt (851793) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:58PM (#43046301)

    Bureaucrats have one goal in life. To accumulate more power and increase the size of their budgets. The thoughts of cutting waste and removing inefficiency never occur to their twisted minds.

    If these microscopic little slowdowns in their budget increases (these are not cuts) have any effect on government services whatsoever, it is only because the bureaucrats implemented them in a way that would be most painful and most noticeable to the people.

    If your spouse was a bureaucrat and you had to decrease household spending by 2.2%, the cut would be made by turning off the heat and electricity. The restaurant and entertainment budget that a sane person would cut first would not be touched. That way, the cuts would be as painful as possible so that you didn't DARE suggest a cut ever again.

    It would be possible to cut the federal government by 33% without anyone but the bureaucratic parasites noticing.

    • by thoth (7907) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:59PM (#43047767) Journal

      If your spouse was a bureaucrat and you had to decrease household spending by 2.2%, the cut would be made by turning off the heat and electricity. The restaurant and entertainment budget that a sane person would cut first would not be touched. That way, the cuts would be as painful as possible so that you didn't DARE suggest a cut ever again.

      This is actually a perfect analogy, except you missed slightly.

      In this hypothetical household, both sides are arguing about cutting utilities vs. cutting entertainment, when the REAL problem is the fact they bought a house that is killing them on monthly payments, but they can't move. So while the actual problem expense is 10X bigger than anything they are looking at cutting, they go after crap like the monthly newspaper subscription and number of toiler paper rolls they buy.

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