Jim Geraughty, in his morning email, the Morning Jolt, collected tweeted reactions to the carnage.
Under Sequester, the Morning Jolt Will Be 2 Percent Shorter Than Before
Shortly after midnight, this is what happened, according to Twitter:
Stephen Gutowski: “Just tried driving but since sequestration went into effect the roads have all crumbled into dust.”
Brendan Loy: “OH MY GOD THERE ARE GOVERNMENT WORKERS SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTING ALL OVER THE PLACE, THIS IS HORRIBLE, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP” ...
Jonah: “It wasn’t until I ate my neighbor’s pancreas that I realized president Obama was right about the sequester.”
Iowahawk: “The corpses are piling up outside my window like cordwood, oh my God the humanity.”
Sebastian: “Nothing to worry about! I grabbed my double barrel shotgun & blasted #sequester through the door, just like the VP said.”
Ari Fleischer: “President Obama is right. Undo the sequester! I can’t stand it already.”
Becket Adams: “I don’t think my neighbors are taking sequestration seriously. They’re giving me weird looks and making fun of my war paint and loincloth.”
Exurban Jon: “So this is what anarchy feels like . . . From now on, I shall be known as ;ExJon, Warlord of the Western Deserts.’”
Buck Sexton: “Did America lose 170,000,000 jobs in the last 10 minutes? Keep me informed, everyone.”
Brandon Morse: “The #sequester may now join the Mayan Calendar and the Y2K bug in the “[Stuff] Everyone Survived” Hall of Fame.”
By morning, it was even worse:
Rick Wilson: “A few hours of fitful sleep, the sound of sirens and screams of the victims of the Barackolypse rending the night air . . . I saw their fires in the dark, savagery swiftly tearing away the thin veneer of civilization only government diversity programs provided.”
John Podhoretz: “Just looked out the window. Five hedge fund guys fighting over a piece of raw meat.”
If Congress allows sequestration cuts to take effect, more than 170 million Americans could lose their jobs, according to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
“If sequestration takes place, that’s going to be a great setback. We don’t need to be having something like sequestration that’s going to cause these job losses — over 170 million jobs that could be lost,” Waters said.
She went on to say cuts must be done “over a long period of time.”
There’s just one problem with her estimation — and it’s a big one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are only 134 million people working in the United States. So by Waters’ estimation, the sequester cuts would be so apocalyptic that nearly 40 million people who don’t have jobs would become even more unemployed.
The big news of the day is the outbreak of open war between veteran journalist Bob Woodward and Barack Obama.
Woodward last week challenged the Obama Administration’s blaming Republicans for the Sequester, pointing out that the idea of an automatic trigger was originated by the White House in July of 2011.
There was immediate pushback from the left’s commentariat, disputing his interpretation and dismissing the once-admired Nixon-slayer as “troutmouth Bob” and “a hack.”
Apparently, Woodward’s questioning the White House party-line on the grand budget battle du jour was perceived as potentially very damaging, because Woodward is retaliating now by revealing that when he discussed that upcoming column with the head of the President’s National Economic Council Gene Sperling, Woodward found himself on the receiving end of a half hour long tirade.
Sperling subsequently sent a lengthy email, in which he apologized for “raising his voice,” but which also asserted (obviously falsely) that Woodward was wrong about the fact in issue (that the Sequester proposal was initiated by the White House, and not by congressional Republicans), and warning him that he “will regret staking out that claim.”
Threatening prominent reporters is an awfully bold and bad thing for any administration to do, and historically trying to intimidate the press has not worked out well for those who’ve tried it.
Bob Woodward (not surprisingly) retaliated by releasing the email exchange.
Rather than being intimidated, of course, Bob Woodward is responding to the attempts to pressure him to shut up by openly attacking Barack Obama’s decisions in other areas. Yesterday, Woodward took a swipe at Obama’s declining to deploy a carrier to the Persian Gulf “because of budget cuts.” (See video)
Yuval Levin puts the oh-so-terrible impact of the automatically-triggered sequester into perspective. It doesn’t shut down the federal government. It does not starve the poor or leave America defenseless. It doesn’t even really reduce federal spending. It merely slightly slows already budgeted spending.
Let’s get a grip. In its first year, fiscal year 2013, which ends September 30, the sequester would involve a total of $85 billion in spending cuts. That’s a reduction of 3% from what federal spending otherwise would have been this year. But even that significantly overstates the effects the sequester would actually have this year. The federal government is so lumbering and huge that it can’t even reduce its own spending that quickly. That’s why “first year” cuts are always so difficult in even the most fiscally conservative budget proposals. The Congressional Budget Office (on page 11 of its latest budget outlook, published earlier this month) estimates that while FY 2013 spending will ultimately be reduced by $85 billion, “discretionary outlays will drop by $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures; additional reductions in outlays attributable to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years.” So in this fiscal year, we would actually be looking at a $44 billion spending cut, or less than a 1.5% reduction from what federal spending otherwise would have been. It would mean that federal spending in 2013 will be about $3.553 trillion. In 2012, federal spending was $3.538 trillion. Yes, that means that even with the sequester we will be spending slightly more in 2013 than we did in 2012. In fact, we will be spending more than we did in any year in American history except for 2011 (when we spent $3.598 trillion).
Democrats and their media allies will be blaming Republicans, if the Sequester comes to pass, but Bob Woodward (no Republican) points out the truth.
What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?
The sequester and the debt ceiling, explained: President Obama and lawmakers are facing several important fiscal deadlines. One is to avoid the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts included in sequestration and another is raising the country’s debt ceiling. Here is a look at some of the issues involved in these two fiscal challenges.
The finger-pointing began during the third presidential debate last fall, on Oct. 22, when President Obama blamed Congress. “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed,” Obama said. “It is something that Congress has proposed.”
The White House chief of staff at the time, Jack Lew, who had been budget director during the negotiations that set up the sequester in 2011, backed up the president two days later.
“There was an insistence on the part of Republicans in Congress for there to be some automatic trigger,” Lew said while campaigning in Florida. It “was very much rooted in the Republican congressional insistence that there be an automatic measure.”
The president and Lew had this wrong. My extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.
Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.
Nabors has told others that they checked with the president before going to see Reid. A mandatory sequester was the only action-forcing mechanism they could devise. Nabors has said, “We didn’t actually think it would be that hard to convince them” — Reid and the Republicans — to adopt the sequester. “It really was the only thing we had. There was not a lot of other options left on the table.”