Thursday, March 14, 2013

Curious Priorities

It's expected to reduce spending by $85.4 billion in 2013 and $109.3 billion a year from 2014 to 2021.    In late February, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke testified

The CBO estimates that deficit-reduction policies in current law will slow the pace of real GDP growth by about 1-1/2 percentage points this year, relative to what it would have been otherwise. A significant portion of this effect is related to the automatic spending sequestration that is scheduled to begin on March 1, which, according to the CBO's estimates, will contribute about 0.6 percentage point to the fiscal drag on economic growth this year. Given the still-moderate underlying pace of economic growth, this additional near-term burden on the recovery is significant. Moreover, besides having adverse effects on jobs and incomes, a slower recovery would lead to less actual deficit reduction in the short run for any given set of fiscal actions.

A few of the cuts engineered by the sequester, which Dylan Matthews compiled from CBO estimates of a few years ago, include

Aircraft purchases by the Air Force and Navy are cut by $3.5 billion.
Military operations across the services are cut by about $13.5 billion.
Military research is cut by $6.3 billion.
The National Institutes of Health get cut by $1.6 billion.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are cut by about $323 million.
Border security is cut by about $581 million.
Immigration enforcement is cut by about $323 million.
Airport security is cut by about $323 million.
Head Start gets cut by $406 million, kicking 70,000 kids out of the program.
FEMA’s disaster relief budget is cut by $375 million.
Public housing support is cut by about $1.94 billion.
The FDA is cut by $206 million.
NASA gets cut by $970 million.
Special education is cut by $840 million.
The Energy Department’s program for securing our nukes is cut by $650 million.
The National Science Foundation gets cut by about $388 million.
The FBI gets cut by $480 million.
The federal prison system gets cut by $355 million.
State Department diplomatic functions are cut by $650 million.
Global health programs are cut by $433 million; the Millenium Challenge Corp. sees a $46 million cut, and USAID a cut of about $291 million.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is cut by $55 million.
The SEC is cut by $75.6 million.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is cut by $2.6 million.
The Library of Congress is cut by $31 million.
The Patent and Trademark office is cut by $156 million.

Law enforcement, food safety inspection, veterans' benefits, airport security disaster relief, special education services, and other luxuries take a hit.  So what does the GOP complain about?  Republican National Committee chairperson Reince Priebus, echoing the statements of other Republicans, has tweeted "Don’t fall for @BarackObama’s spending gimmicks. Re-open the people’s house>"

But what may seem lack of compassion may instead be mere shilling for the political class. Ezra Klein explains

So, these kids come to town, they can’t get the tour they scheduled through their member of Congress, and now they’re not so happy with their member of Congress and the sequester. That means that member of Congress now has a problem with some of their constituents — and with the kinds of constituents who are likely to contact their member of Congress when their kid goes to Washington.

That’s what makes the outrage over White House tours a bit gross. White House tours don’t matter. They really don’t. But the people they upset are the people who are in touch with members of Congress, and so all of a sudden Republicans are running and rushing to do something about it.
But those folks are going to be fine without their White House tour. You know who may not be fine? The jobless, who are seeing their unemployment checks cut by almost 10 percent. The pregnant mothers and young children getting fed through the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates may serve as many as 775,000 fewer people due to the sequester. The 100,000 formerly homeless people that the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates are in emergency shelters or other temporary housing arrangements and might be turned back onto the street. 

This is classic politics-as-usual.  Republicans may shoot their mouths off about deficit reduction but when it comes to protecting incumbents, they're all-in.

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