How the Sequester Looks After the Fiscal Cliff Deal

Along with a two month delay until March 1, the fiscal cliff deal reduced the across-the-board cuts under sequestration for 2013 by $24 billion. Reducing the cuts from $109.3 billion to $85.3 billion was paid for with a reduction in discretionary caps in 2013 and 2014 and a tax gimmick to allow for more conversions to Roth IRAs. As a result, the remaining cuts under sequestration are now slightly smaller.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has recalculated the percentages by which each funding category will be cut. All programs now face smaller cuts, except for Medicare, which would still be cut by the maximum two percent allowed for by law. CBPP also adjusted their percentages for the extension of expanded unemployment insurance and likely additional disaster relief funding for areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy, since some of that spending will fall under the ax.

While the relative magnitude of sequestration may be smaller now, it still is not the best policy. The blunt and indiscriminate nature of sequestration was designed to force a deal rather than be used as deliberate deficit reduction. With many deficit reducing options available to reform our tax code and entitlement programs, policymakers should work to enact a bipartisan and comprehensive plan that will do the least harm to the recovering economy in the short term while putting the debt on a downward path as a share of the economy in the long term.  At minimum, lawmakers should pay for any further delay that would be needed to continue such negotiations.

Have congress set an example

  Let's have congress set an example. Have them cut all congressional expenditures of travel to foreign countries. (Why did an Idaho representative and his staff have to travel to Israel, Spain, and other Mediterranean and Mid eastern countries?)  

Have them substitute their over the top, expensive to the taxpayer, medical insurance coverage and replace it with Medicare or the average plan provided by the average employer in their State depending on their age. Let them experience their proposed cuts to Medicare or experience all the problems the rest of us are having getting insurance companies to cover our illnesses.
Have them change their travel reembursement to the cost of coach airfare booked 30 days prior to travel and cut out any transport by the military unless that is also available in the same proportion to the general public. Have their reembursement for lodging be equal to the cost of lodging at a Super 8 or Best Wester in their destination city booked 30 days in advance. Have their airport to hotel travel expense allowed only be equal to the cost of the airport shuttle and only if their hotel doesn't provide a free shuttle. Have their per diem expense reembursement be equal to the average per diem reembursement to the average traveling federal employee earning $45,000 per year.
Have them give up their lucrative retirement benefits and replace it with social security and IRA-like accounts funded out of their own pockets like the rest of us. Have their pension plans be no better then the pension plans of the average teacher or policeman in their State. Make them have tenure requirements equal to the tenure requirements of the average federal employee in their State.
Have them give up the congressional gym and have them pay out of pocket for gym membership like the rest of us. Have them cut out taxpayer support of the congressional cafeteria or perhaps only supply them with lunches equivalent to the school lunches provided in Mississippi or a different State each year. Have them outlaw free lunches or other meals and make them pay out of pockets for any meal or any other benefit or perk provided for by any lobbyist or anyone else and only allow a tax deduction for that expense if it can be shown to be truly job related like the rest of us.
Such changes might not solve the fiscal crisis but would save millions and more than that would show us they are one of us and not a group of elitist takers of tax payer money.
Have congress step up to the plate and show us by example what they are willing to do for our country and that they are willing to suffer the consequences of their proposed fiscal policies. Hopefully, if they were to do so, in the next poll they might have more approval  by the American public then cockroaches. 

something looks wrong with these non-defense, mandatory numbers

if $5.5B is a 7.6% cut, then $5.0B would be about a 7.0% cut, not 5.3%, unless the number subjected to these cuts has grown by about a third.


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