The Bully Politics of Sequester

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Illustration by Emily Metcalf

BY FRANK SALVATO- In the end, at least in WashingtonDC– and specifically in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s chamber, it’s all about the politics of elections and less about good government. If it weren’t, the American people would have witnessed myriad debates on at least one of the over thirteen budget bills passed out of the Republican-led House of Representatives; bills left to succumb to the politicized death of Mr. Reid’s unconstitutional “pocket veto.” That’s what makes the upcoming “crisis” of addressing the sequester – the result of an unconstitutional “supercommittee” budget agreement that produced last August’s Budget Control Act – all the more a futile gesture for the sincere, even if the “crisis” is completely avoidable.

I say that last August’s supercommittee-produced agreement is unconstitutional because all bills addressing revenue must – by constitutional mandate – originate in the US House of Representatives. Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution states, boldly:


“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”

In that the “supercommittee” was engaged in examining not only areas were the budget was to be reduced, but revenue increases, including raising taxes; tax reforms, such as simplifying the tax code; and in that the committee was a bastardized mix of members of both houses – US Reps. Xavier Becerra (P-CA), Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Fred Upton (R-MI), Dave Camp (R-MI), and US Sens. Patty Murray (P-WA), Max Baucus (D-MT), John Kerry (P-MA), John Kyl (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) – it can be successfully argued that the Budget Control Act actually emanated from a body other than the US House of Representatives. But then, in today’sWashingtonDC, there is little credence afforded the US Constitution; the law of the land.

I also identify as unconstitutional Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV), habit of refusing to bring to the floor legitimately passed legislation out of the House. Throughout his tenure as Senate Majority Leader, Mr. Reid has routinely “pocket vetoed” a plethora of legitimately and constitutionally crafted legislation passed out of the House. And while the US Constitution affords each legislative chamber to craft its own rules of procedure, Article 1, Section 5, states…

“Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”

…the Constitution reserves the right of “veto” to the Executive Branch exclusively; for the President of theUnited Statesalone. Article 1, Section 7, states, clearly…

“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it.”

Again, given the short shrift that the US Constitution receives today, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the business of government includes procedures and tactics that can only be considered wholly unconstitutional.

That said, the sequestration looms.

This week, many of the larger Defense Department contractors announced that, as Congress prepares to debate the sequester, they, too, are considering the moves that sequester would force them to make, namely, employee layoffs due to decreased federal funding to satisfy defense contracts.

This week, aerospace giant Lockheed-Martin announced that it is preparing “pink slips” – notifications of layoff – to all 123,000 of its workers. News of similar preparations at Northrop-Grumman and Boeing was also present in the media. All in all, the number of defense contractor and subcontractor employees affected, should the sequester be enacted, is estimated by the non-partisan accounting firm of Deloitte to be 3.5 million people.

In addition, the Center for Security Policy estimates that theUS economy will hemorrhage $59.4 billion in lost earnings and $86.4 billion in Gross State Product.

The other side of the coin, while also unattractive, secured the Progressive and Democrat sacrosanct programs of entitlement. Under the Budget Control Act, sequester would see cuts to mandatory and discretionary spending in the years 2013 to 2021, and the cuts would be equal to the difference between $1.2 trillion and the amount of deficit reduction enacted from the joint committee. But where entitlements are concerned the reductions would only apply to Medicare providers, not to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare beneficiaries, civil and military employee pay, or veterans. No reforms are mandated.

Is there any wonder why Sen. Reid and his political cronies aren’t beating down their counterparts’ doors seeking to avoid the sequester? They get everything that they want – a devastated defense budget, long a quest for Liberal Democrats and Progressives, and the political security of being able to proclaim they preserved the entitlement system. One has to wonder if the Republicans on the “supercommittee” weren’t drunk when they signed-off on this garbage piece of legislation.

Now, let’s recall one of the big sticking points that facilitated the formation of the unconstitutional “supercommittee” in the first place: Democrats, led by the nose by their bully Progressive leadership, insist that taxes be raised on corporations and the dreaded “one-percenters.”

For the record – and only a financial bubblehead doesn’t recognize this – corporations, while they may pay federal and state taxes on paper, do not incur the pain of paying taxes. Their tax cost is always – always and without fail – passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Therefore, the idea floated – disingenuously – by the Progressives that those evil corporations must pay “their fair share”…well, they are simply advocating for a tax increase on those who actually have to pay taxes; federally, that works out to about 53 percent of the nation or, as Ayn Rand would call them, the “producers.”

As to the massive amount of revenue gleaned for acquiescing to the Progressives demands for tax hikes for “the rich” – who they define as anyone making over $200,000 and any couple making over $250,000, according to Herbert Grubel, a Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at Simon Fraser University and a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute:

“If taxes on the super-rich were raised so that they paid not the present 21.5 percent but 50 percent of their incomes, revenues from the top 400 earners would go up by $26 billion (one half of $90.9 billion minus the present $19.5 billion). Since this year alone, the US federal deficit will be around $1.4 trillion, or $3.8 billion a day, the new revenue would cover less than seven days of deficits.

“The numbers are even worse for total federal spending. In 2010, that amounted to $3.6 trillion or $9.7 billion a day. Buffett’s new taxes up against that would be gone in just 2.7 days.”

Which brings me to a critical point.

How is it that each and every Republican lawmaker isn’t in front of a news camera, radio microphone or newspaper reporter screaming this message:

“In Sen. Harry Reid’s failure to bring one of the over thirteen budget proposals passed out of the House to the Senate floor for debate, he has needlessly and recklessly nurtured the economic poison of sequestration, all so that he and his political party can have a talking point for the 2012 General Election.

“Mr. Reid and his Progressive and Liberal Democrats want to advance the tactic of class warfare as the centerpiece of their politicking in the 2012 General election, following the lesson dictated by Saul Alinsky: divide and conquer. This is blatantly obvious. Democrats, having followed President Obama and his Progressive activists ‘over the cliff’ ideologically have nothing to run on but a devastated economy; an economy made worse since 2008 because of Mr. Obama’s spendthrift policies, an enormous unemployment rate and a health insurance law that devastates the medical community while enriching the politically connected, all while providing inferior medical care to the people. Class warfare is all they have. Divide and conquer is all that will save them at the ballot box.

“But with the possibility of a great portion of 3.5 million people facing layoffs, should sequestration be enacted, further adding to the economic agony of not only our citizenry, but to the federal tax base at the loss of tax revenues – not to mention an additional burden placed onto the unemployment rolls, it is time to call Mr. Reid and his political opportunist allies to the carpet.

“Mr. Reid, stop playing politics at the expense of the American people just so you can score political points for your political party. Should sequestration occur, the resulting layoffs and the increase in unemployment; the decreased federal revenue created by the decreased workforce, will rest completely, solely and pathetically on your shoulders and your shoulders alone.”

Again, I ask, why isn’t every Republican elected to office – federally, as well as on the state and local levels – getting ahead of this issue and messaging cohesively and coherently?

Sometimes I wonder about the elected Republican class.