The Navy feels the sequestration blues
From the Washington Times comes word that the Navy may ground its famed flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, if sequestration budget cuts hit the Pentagon. ”Canceling the 30 shows scheduled for that time frame would produce a meager savings of $20 million, but it would also shut down one of its top recruiting tools,” says the Times. “The Blue Angels website estimates that 11 million people attend their shows each year.”
Shall we run through Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) Wastebook 2012 and find a few examples of silly B.S. the government could stop funding to save $20 million? Assuming someone can convince Barack Obama to cut anything except the military, that is. Hmmm, let’s see… we’ve got $4.5 billion in food stamp abuse, so if we just trim back government-supported junk food, gourmet coffee, booze, and strip club entertainment by one percent, we’d have plenty of money for the Blue Angels, with millions to spare.
Or how about if we cancel the Moroccan pottery classes? That’s $27 million right there. Or we could scuttle the Martian food tasting, robot squirrels, sidewalks to nowhere, climate change musicals, obsolete NASA databases, Pentagon beef jerky research programs, plus the government-financed videogame simulations of Prom Night, the Mars Rover, and the writings of Henry David Thoreau. I think that would get us to about $20 million.
President Obama is right about one thing: willy-nilly automatic spending cuts are unwise compared to a careful, deliberate process of budgetary restraint. That’s why it’s so appalling that he refuses to engage in the careful and deliberate process of budgetary restraint. We’re getting these sequestration cuts because the bipartisan Super Committee couldn’t find a way to cut $1.2 trillion out of a projected $47 trillion in government spending over the next ten years. Sequestration is the sole remaining measure of budget control from the so-called Budget Control Act of 2011.
The Washington Post has an article today about how our terrified federal Leviathan is planning to cope with the horror of an automated two percent cut in spending:
The White House Office of Management and Budget released a memo on Tuesday warning federal agencies that furloughs and steep cutbacks may be necessary if lawmakers fail to reach a comprehensive debt-reduction deal by March 1.
That’s right, the Obama administration used the “f” word, which means the government may force many of its employees to take time off work in order to reduce costs if sequestration happens.
The memo also told agencies to “identify the most appropriate means to reduce civilian workforce costs,” including with hiring freezes, by releasing temporary employees and through early retirement or voluntary separation incentives. In other words: Think hard about how to get rid of people.
Okay… so where’s the White House memo telling these endless layers of federal flab to prepare themselves for the “smart spending cuts” Obama says he wants? He’s had a long time to prepare his plan for fiscal restraint and notify the affected departments to adjust their budgets accordingly. His immense staff could easily have prepared such a memo in the time that has elapsed since his “fiscal cliff” tax hikes were secured.
But the President has not – in any way, shape, or form – acted as a responsible executive dedicated to making smart spending cuts with the minimum possible disruption to government services. He only tells his government to brace itself for reform when he thinks the memo would be useful as a prop in his endless political theater, where each act ends with a tax increase. This is like the patriarch of a spendthrift family asking the bill collectors from his credit-card company to hold the line while he asks his wife which of their children she would prefer to starve.
Obama is supposed to be a leader. Leadership involves taking the initiative. But he never, ever displays any leadership when it comes to fiscal responsibility. He could have come to the table for our new fiscal-cliff drama with a carefully designed package of spending cuts that would make sequestration unnecessary. He could even have tried mixing some tax increases into the proposal, in line with his poll-tested campaign promises of a “balanced approach,” or even his older poll-tested campaign promises of $3 in cuts for every $1 in tax increases. But instead, he views sequestration as nothing more than a chance to take vital services, including the military, hostage while he demands more tax increases.
Let’s see those “smart spending cuts,” Mr. Obama. Right now. You’ve got 469 senior staffers, 226 of whom make over $100,000 per year. Either make them work some overtime producing your precise list of smart spending cuts, agency by agency, or fire enough of them to save $20 million and let us keep the Blue Angels. You could start with the full-time White House staff of movie theater projectionists.