News Column

Sequester Reactions All Over the Web

February 27, 2013

Reid Kanaley

Unless President Barack Obama and Congress agree otherwise, $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts are supposed to go into effect Friday. But debate over the "sequester" - and just how draconian it might be - is confusing.

-For a brief history that seems pretty evenhanded, check out "The Confused Person's Guide to Sequester Politics" by political reporter David Wiegel at Wiegel traces the debate to its beginnings in the awful budget standoff during the summer of 2011, which was followed by the "fiscal cliff" and, now, another frustrating "manufactured" Washington crisis.

-Unemployment checks would be whacked by 9.4 percent, roofs blown off by Hurricane Sandy won't get repaired, and "Granny won't get her lunch," according to this report at CNNMoney. And those are just three of the "7 spending cuts you'll really feel," CNN says.

-Wildfires, workplace deaths, homelessness and more terrorism are among the risks posed by the cuts, says this breathless ABCNews report that ups the ante on CNN with its title, "57 terrible consequences of the sequester." The list draws on reports from the heads of 20 federal agencies to the Senate Appropriations committee.

-Hold on a minute. In this Breakout video on Yahoo Finance, Michael Pento of Pento Portfolio Strategies says, "If you listen to some of these politicians, the Mayans were just a couple of months off, you know, the world will indeed end once we cut some spending." Echoing congressional Republicans, Pento says the cuts in the sequester represent "nothing" in a federal budget with $3.6 trillion in spending this year.

-In an attempt to separate fact from fiction in the sequester debate, last week posted this analysis of a statement by Obama - who said the cuts will have to be made without distinguishing between "some bloated program ... or a vital service." PolitiFact found the statement "mostly true," but said, "Obama oversimplified by glossing over the tools federal managers can use with their own discretion to make cuts."

-The public, until now, hasn't been too worried, or interested, in the sequester. That could change in the days ahead as politicians rev up. The Pew Research Center released survey results last week that say almost half of the public thinks the president and Congress will, again, kick the can this week by delaying the automatic cuts, if they don't reach a deal. And, if there is no deal, 49 percent of the public will blame the Republicans.

Source: (c) 2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.

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