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What’s So Bad About Sequestration, Anyway?

Calum Hayes |
March 4, 2013 | 10:00 p.m. PST


We’re on day four of the sequester and I’m taking a break from organizing my canned goods to check in. (Creative Commons)
We’re on day four of the sequester and I’m taking a break from organizing my canned goods to check in. (Creative Commons)
Dear Diary,

We’re on day four of the sequester and I’m taking a break from organizing my canned goods to check in. Thankfully no one has attacked the nation yet, seeing as we all know our ability to react is 100 percent compromised right now after that eight percent cut to the defense budget. What’s that you say, supposedly talking diary? The cut didn’t happen all at once? In fact, of the 85 billion dollars being cut from the budget overall, only 42 billion of it is being cut from spending that would have happened this year? Wow. If that’s not worth cracking a can of baked beans to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

But Diary, what about the six percent cut from all government assistance programs? I bet my grandmother is already struggling to pay for her medication, what with Medicare being gutted and Social Security having been ripped apart as well. Oh, those programs actually didn’t get touched? In fact, a full two-thirds of the budget wasn’t even looked at for these cuts? So Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are all completely intact? You always know what to say to ease my mind, Diary.

But what about those trillion dollars of cuts the president referred to in his State of the Union address? That seems like a lot of money to me. Oh, that’s over a ten-year period and it’s not even close to a trillion dollars this year? Well that’s much better. What about all those job losses I keep hearing about, Diary? What about all those government programs that will have to close down entirely because they are losing all of their funding? That seems like a big deal, too. Wait you mean, there isn’t actually a single program that will have to close down? More baked beans, please.

Luckily for you, Diary, I’ve been doing some reading in between the hours of securing my bunker, and I happen to know where the cuts are planning to take place. $3.5 billion less to spend on military aircraft, including no more flyovers at sporting events? That’s ok; I brought my DVD player and "Top Gun" with me. Airport security is being cut by $323 million? Does this mean that TSA agent whose exorbitant pension I’m paying might actually have to stand up every once in a while? If that’s the case, I’m completely on board with this one. What about the Head Start program, though? That seems important. We’re cutting $406 million, which could kick up to 70k children out of government-funded preschool. Why thank you, Diary, that was kind of you to remind you that I didn’t go to preschool and you seem to think I turned out alright.

Diary, I have to say, it seems a little hypocritical for all of these politicians to be complaining about the sequester when they didn’t even bother “negotiating” about it until the week before it was set to take place. Although, they must have been negotiating really vigorously what with needing that four-day weekend to get away and relax over President's Day just before this all kicked in. It also seems a little odd that any of them would complain about these cuts when Republicans have been dying for cuts to discretionary spending, and the President has been pushing for cuts to the defense budget, and both sides couldn’t in their wildest dreams hope to get six and eight percent cut respectively form those budgets in open negotiation. But, thankfully, our best and brightest still have power and warm beds on Capitol Hill while the rest of us are eating canned pears underground for a treat.

Well, Diary, that’s all from me on day four of the sequester. As you can see, these have been an incredibly rough couple of days. Even writing this entry was difficult given my lack of preschool and how far behind the eight ball that put me early on in life. I’m off to break down some chairs for firewood in case the Koreans use this 8 percent cut to our $530 billion defense budget as a chance to launch a nuke our way.

Until next time, Diary.

P.S. If these cuts ruin my spring break road trip to the Southwestern national parks, impeach them all.


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Anonymous (not verified) on March 5, 2013 10:36 AM

I think that this, coming from a student of USC... leaves a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. What about higher education spending cuts? The Pell Grant has already been demolished. What do these spending cuts mean for those of us (students) who aren't privileged enough to afford a Spring Break trip to Southwestern National Parks? I'd prefer a little less snark and a lot more fact from my news source...

Calum Hayes (not verified) on March 5, 2013 2:05 PM

I hardly ever respond to comments but you caught my attention.

First off, I just want to say thanks for reading regardless of disagreement, I appreciate your time. Having said that, I have more than my fair share of student debt and am paying for that road trip with my roommate with money I made myself. I am well aware of the financial distress Pell Grant cuts causes, I just refuse to blame other people for my problems as that puts me in a situation where other people are the only ones who can fix those problems.

P.S. I'd prefer a little less anonymity and a lot more accountability from my commenters...

Danielle Renae Kathryn Then (not verified) on March 7, 2013 9:35 PM

So you do know that the sequester doesn't just cut Head start? I think it's convenient that you left out the fact that many programs set up for poor students or special needs students are also being cut. As many as 25,000 teachers geared in these directions will probably be laid off. Which is saying something, given that our country only employs about $400,000 of them. I'm sorry to say it, but our Government is there for a reason, and it really sticks in my craw when the (literally) helpless masses are stepped on because of partisanship.
Is that transparent enough for you?
Oh, and... by the way, I wasn't calling you a spoiled rich kid, but you should know that you are probably a lot wealthier than everyone I run with. Aside from that, my criticism wasn't about you, it was about the fact that you didn't mention the 8.2% in cuts towards federal work study programs and $49 million in cuts to the Education Opportunity Grant program. Given that this is a student-oriented news source, you might think to mention that.

DRKT (not verified) on March 7, 2013 9:42 PM

I do not know why there is a dollar sign before the 400,000... but I can't edit it. So, decrescendo moment, and I'll correct that to say '400,000'.
P.S. I didn't do the anonymous thing deliberately, it just didn't seem worth my time to fill out the 'name' field, seeing as how I am a minority dissenting opinion to whom no one is really going to pay any mind.

LMadow (not verified) on March 5, 2013 8:55 AM

The fact that YOU didn't go to preschool has no bearing on cuts to Head Start, which is designed to give children in low-income families a fighting chance at a decent education. Cuts to this program, whether they happen or not, would have an actual impact in further reducing the opportunities available to children from poor families.