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    The Firehouse syndrome

    The Firehouse syndrome

    Earlier today Prof. Jacobson covered an issue I wanted to get to, Gov’t still controls the sequester pain meter. His argument was:

    The “unilateral” “across-the-board” sequester cuts seemingly absolve government of any responsibility.

    Actually, the opposite is true. While some decreases in the growth of government are mandated, and government has less flexibility than usual particularly as to the defense budget, government still controls the pain meter.

    The key word in the sequester political debate is “could.”

    Brit Hume tweeted a related thought:

    and it was seconded (and clarified) by Don Surber:

    It’s not just that the government gets to apportion the cuts, but it gets to threaten which programs will suffer. I’d like to call it “The Firehouse Syndrome.”

    Every time a government claims that it is short of funds and absolutely needs more revenue what do they threaten to shut? The firehouses or some other perceived essential service. Then politicians, bureaucrats and journalists promote this terrible crisis. Government needs more (tax) money or the weakest and most vulnerable in society will suffer!

    Lost in this reporting and posturing is why it seems that there never are unnecessary programs that need cutting.

    But as George Will pointed out last week in The manufactured crisis of sequester:

    Even during this desultory economic recovery, one industry thrives — the manufacture of synthetic hysteria. It is, however, inaccurate to accuse the Hysteric in Chief of crying “Wolf!” about spending cuts under the sequester. He is actually crying “Hamster!”

    As in: Batten down the hatches — the sequester will cut $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget! Or: Head for the storm cellar — spending will be cut 2.3 percent! Or: Washington chain-saw massacre — we must scrape by on 97.7 percent of current spending! Or: Chaos is coming because the sequester will cut a sum $25 billion larger than was just shoveled out the door (supposedly, but not actually) for victims of Hurricane Sandy! Or: Heaven forfend, the sequester will cut 47 percent as much as was spent on the AIG bailout! Or: Famine, pestilence and locusts will come when the sequester causes federal spending over 10 years to plummet from $46 trillion all the way down to $44.8 trillion! Or: Grass will grow in the streets of America’s cities if the domestic agencies whose budgets have increased 17 percent under President Obama must endure a 5 percent cut!

    If we’re talking about 2.3% of the budget the only way the cuts will be disastrous is if those administering the cuts make sure that they are!

    Dan Mitchell tweets (via memeorandum)


    The sequestration cuts will barely register on the growth of the government over the next ten years.

    So as Instapundit notes:

    I assume that the Obama Administration is doing what it can to ensure maximum sequester-pain for voters. Somebody ought to be filing FOIA requests for emails concerning sequester implementation; there’s probably some gold there.

    Much of the pain caused by sequestration will be due to cynical political posturing, ensuring that the “firehouse syndrome” comes to pass.


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    Bruno Lesky | February 26, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Here’s what gets me. Most “regular people” — those earning a paycheck / working within a household budget / running a small business — mostly always want/need more money.

    But when you don’t have it, you figure out how to cope.

    You try to make the best decisions possible to maximize survival — let alone comfort — for yourself and your charges.

    So what’s with the prez and his minions who try to figure out how to stick it to his charges — us — for maximum suffering?!

    He’s not just a bad exec / bad partner / bad manager … he’s kind of a psycho sadist.

    Why do “regular people” accept the disconnect between our ordinary experience and this insufferable abuse?

      It’s refreshing to see people here start using language like ‘he’s kind of a psycho sadist.’

      Obama is at the top of a fascist movement. I challenge anyone — ANYONE — to name a nation under fascist rule (with the likes of the Obama czars in it) where ‘psychotic sadism’ did not occur.

      It’s easy to spend other people’s money and then get credit for being so munificent. It’s easy to pretend to be an Indian and then to leverage that lie for advantage. It is easy to ban guns and allow the bad guys to rule (both on the street and in office). What’s not easy is what Americans do on a day to day basis to make ends meet after Federal and State taxes, regulations, parking meters, sales taxes, RE taxes, estate taxes, onerous corporation taxes, IRS tax codes…

      We all pay a huge price when politicians use us for their own political ends.

    Another member of the federal aristocracy, Janet Napolitano, is playing her part by gutting the Border Patrol in her sequestration plan, then warning about how it affects national security.

    I’d like to sequester all 2013 “aid” to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Green Energy-istan until 2050.

    They can’t find anything to cut. Why? The reason is simple, government is alive. It is a beast that will feast on anything in order to save itself one more day. To expect it to cut back is foolish. Here is one area that could be easily eliminated but instead has a million dollar a year govt boss.

    These guys have a great money laundering set up going over there. One guy is in charge of the board of the company that oversees the govt agency he heads- of a mill a year.

    Meanwhile as these idiots waste money getting nowhere, some eggheads over at UCLA may have just broken through into the next big leap in energy.

    MaggotAtBroadAndWall | February 26, 2013 at 9:52 am

    The government is worse than the mob. While they both use coercion, the mob’s use of coercion is illegal. The government’s use of coercion is legal.

    If you balk at paying the required tribute to the mob, they threaten to inflict pain until you change your mind. If you don’t pay the tribute to government, they promise to cut government services and make your life as miserable as possible until you finally pay up. At least the mob has to compete with rival gangs to squeeze you. The government has a monopoly on coercion it uses to squeeze you.

    This is not new. It’s why the Founders wanted a very limited government. They correctly understood that short of revolution the only check on government expansion and corruption that citizens have is their vote. And that vote has essentially been bought. When a charlatan can win re-election by promising the bottom 50% of the population that he will not raise their taxes but if they vote for him he will raise the taxes on the top 2%, the vote of the bottom 50% has been bought. The vote no longer serves its function as a a check on government.

    We, or rather our countrymen who vote Democrat, have created a monster.

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