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All kings men can't put country together again


March 20, 2013
There is a problem that has permeated our country over the last decade … we'll just call it economic despair, or disrepair, depending upon your socioeconomic status at present.

With the fiscal cliff of December still fresh in our minds, our government has yet again failed to come to any kind of consensus or middle ground regarding our nation's fiscal responsibilities.

Only now, they're calling it sequestration. What a fun word! Just kind of rolls off the tongue … sequestration.

What it really is, though, is an attempt to get a handle on the growing U.S. national debt that now teeters at more than $16 trillion.

In the 1940s, the nation wouldn't have been able to imagine a sum so large. When I was a child, it was like an infinite number that we used to say when "one upping" a friend … a million, a billion, a trillion, a bazillion, INFINITY!

Lawmakers have seen sequestration coming for more than a year, pushing it back and pushing it back some more until finally, like the night before a paper is due, they could wait no longer.

The sequestration will not allow the debt to bloom to infinity. It aims to cut the debt by $1.2 trillion over a decade and split those cuts 50-50 between defense and domestic discretionary spending.

National parks, the military, federal courts, food inspection, housing aids and the border patrol will all see cuts. While government hospitals like the V.A. are considered exempt, their employees are not.

I think, perhaps, what really makes me the angriest as a citizen of the United States, though, is that it seems like government officials have forgotten what it's like to be a normal person just trying to live life and make a way for our children.

President Barack Obama is quoted as saying that the cuts are not smart: "They will hurt our economy and cost us jobs. And Congress can turn them off at any time — as soon as both sides are willing to compromise."

When you throw out Republican, Democrat, Tea Party or any other affiliation, we're all just Americans. What is it that makes a compromise so hard?

One reason is that those we have lobbying for us don't have a horse in the race when it comes to sequestration. While government agencies and educational facilities will feel the crunch, Congress won't.

Congress will not be receiving a pay cut during sequestration. Their families will be fed, they will still be able to pay rent, and they will be in no danger of losing anything precious to them, aside from pride.

Some lawmakers will forfeit their wages during sequestration as an act of solidarity with citizens of the United States … some, not all, and it isn't mandatory.

The president's stipend will remain untouched.

If my job were secure, my wages untouched and my family without need, I would have no reason to come to a quick and lasting agreement with anyone from the opposite party.

Makes sense, yes? But that's just nitpicking.

Another, more pertinent and prominent reason that compromise is difficult is that, while everyone agrees that there need to be cuts, no one is willing to make the cuts where they count.

It's much simpler to impose broad across-the-board cuts than it is to make judgment calls and cut where there is the most spending taking place.

If Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment, Social Security and other oft-abused entitlement programs were cut and only utilized by people who need them, the budget would be closer to balance.

But as Americans we are adamant that the government cut spending without cutting actual programs. There can be no lasting effect if we do not address, and we do not allow our government to address, the real issues.

It takes an exceptional leadership ability to be able to do that and I'm not sure that we have anyone willing to lose their position in order to take a position that will ultimately benefit the people of the United States.

The price of power has become too high.

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Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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