The Sequester Made Easy

Image borrowed from Matthew Gagnon via Facebook

It’s the end of the world as we know it, right?  I mean, the sequester has dominated the news for a while now.  Over and over again, we’ve been told of the impending apocalypse that awaits us if we didn’t avert the automatic $85 billion in spending cuts that would automatically kick in.

Oh sure, the sequester isn’t really what it’s been presented as.  Rather than draconian cuts, it’s more a case of cutting future growth, but let’s say we took Washington at its word on all of this?  How could we cut $85 billion without losing the 170 million jobs Maxine Waters claimed it would destroy (despite there not being that many jobs in the entire country)?

Well, let’s start with assuming that the $85 billion in cuts had to start with this current fiscal year.  That’s a lot of money to you and me, but as Washington goes, it’s not that big of a total.

In fact, we give $53.3 billion out in foreign aid each year.  That’s over 62 percent of the sequester amount right there, and not a living soul in the United States would ever feel the pinch.  After all, this money goes to other countries, many of whom don’t like us in any way, shape, or form.  Honestly, this whole thing of giving money to other countries smacks of tribute given in the ancient world to buy peace.  While I like the idea of no war, it doesn’t work.

So, with a stroke of the pen, we’ve eliminated $50 billion out of our budget.  Now, we just need to find $31.7 billion.  Can we do that?  Well, How about we next look at the $25 billion the federal government pays to maintain buildings that it no longer uses?  Not only would selling these buildings cut expenditures, but would actually bring in a bit of one-time revenue.

That brings us down to just $6.7 billion.  This is out of a budget of $1.1 trillion.  Think that there’s not $6.7 billion to cut out of the budget?  I wouldn’t be so sure.  From USA Today:

Some agencies perform their own security assessments for federally owned buildings, even though they’re already paying the Federal Protective Service $236 million a year for the same work.

Thirteen agencies fund 209 different science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs — and 173 of those programs overlap with at least one other program.

And the government has at least 15 major financial literacy programs — including three new ones established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

None of these even remotely tackles the waste within the agencies, nor the boondoggles within these departments that they refuse to address.  For example, a supposed three percent cut for all departments will allegedly result in a 20 percent cut in income for civilian employees within the Department of Defense (at least that is what multiple sources within the DoD have reported to me), despite the $1.5 trillion cost of the F-35 that is still not fully operational.

Equally impossible to ignore is the $1.5 trillion price tag for one of the biggest failures in Pentagon history. $1.5 trillion is the cost of operating the air craft for 55 years, an amount that has been consistently increased as the program drags on. It’s the most expensive weapons system the Pentagon has ever commissioned. And as problems mount, there are growing concerns that the F-35 will never fly a combat mission.

“This was a huge mistake. We were warned about it in the 1990s by some prescient people. Those people were ignored,” said Winslow Wheeler, a long-time Congressional staffer who now is the director of the Straus Military Reform Project. “We’re living the consequences of the bad, fundamental design of the airplane and bad, fundamental design of the acquisition plan.”

Folks, the cuts are there.  It’s not difficult to see where Rand Paul could come up with $85 billion in cuts annually for the next ten years.  I mean, I can come up with the first $85 billion with the help of a Google search.  One would think that Congress, who has access to the General Accounting Office to do a lot more digging into idiotic expenditures, could do at least as much.

Of course, that’s assuming they ever wanted to do so in the first place.

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