NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Almost everyone has predicted a detailed ‘list of horribles’ surrounding this Friday’s sequester. Almost on cue, a state-by-state White House list was released over the weekend. Wisconsin would lose 240 federally-supported school jobs, and $18-million in education aid. Among other areas for cuts: civilian military support staff, drug addiction treatment funding, TSA airport screeners, and environmental protection money. The Wisconsin Democratic Party put out their own news release today. It is headlined: "Soldiers Furloughed, Senior Meals Cut, Airports Closed, Kids Kicked Off Head Start."
The message is perfectly clear: we can’t cut anything. Even the smallest cuts (the sequester is about 2% of the budget), the sky will start to fall.
The President, through is inauguration and state-of-the-union speeches, has already clearly signaled that he has very little interest in attacking entitlement reform. That choice alone means all the cuts will come to the military and discretionary spending. Even though these are thought of as pain-points for spending cuts, no matter, let them come. Do American soldiers need to continue defending Germany? Is South Korea – now the world’s 5th largest economy – still dependent on American soldiers (and lives) as a trip-wire in the demilitarized zone? Is every school district in the country so dependent on federal, not local, funding that education cuts are devastating?
Columnist Charles Krauthammer sees the situation exactly right. (Read it here: http://tinyurl.com/atge3r8 ) If President Obama doesn’t like these cuts, he should feel free to propose his own. Cuts. Not tax hikes. That’s already been done. Not closing loopholes. That’s part of a broader tax reform debate that may or may not ever happen.
The debt ceiling has already been raised twice. The deal to avoid the fiscal cliff has already been made. Now, at long last, the debate turns to spending cuts. Finally. Now let them come.