Congress tried to force itself to make a plan for the deficit by putting a punishment in place if they failed to come to an agreement: the sequestration, or forced budget cuts. Predictably, given the general incompetence of Congress, no agreement was made and the budget cuts, amounting to $85 billion across the board, have been put into effect.
It is true that the effects of these cuts will not be felt immediately, as it will take time for them to be put into place. For example, government agencies will have to give notice to the expected 750,000 employees they will have to put on furlough or fire. This does give Congress some time to create an agreement that will evade the cuts and mitigate the consequences.
But this seems unlikely, as both Democrats and Republicans seem quite busy heaping the blame on the other side. The Democrats are saying that the Republicans have dug in their heels about a balanced plan and are too preoccupied with satisfying their wealthier constituents by protecting their tax cuts to care about saving jobs and programs across the board. The Republicans are saying in turn that the White House’s prediction of serious damage stemming from the sequestration is blown wildly out of proportion and is simply a scare tactic used against the American people, framing the sequestration as modest budget cuts. They are also adamant about their idea for a plan to deal with the deficit: spending cuts with no increase in taxes. Citing the last round of tax increases from the beginning of the year, the Republicans feel that a balanced plan would be composed of spending cuts without tax increases, to balance out the increases that have already been put in place.
Both sides are choosing to play the blame game instead of finding a compromise, and that is why both sides are to blame. This package of spending cuts will have serious consequences, including hundreds of thousands of lost jobs, the reduced aid in both the foreign and domestic spheres, reduced military spending, loss of programs for vaccinations for children or care for the elderly, and many, many more areas that will be hit by the cuts.
But unless something changes and Congress finally realizes that to get anything done, the blame game must stop and both sides must take responsibility for the consequences of those actions, and their responsibility for creating an effective plan to combat the deficit, the sequestration will go into effect and its consequences will be felt by everyone.
While I agree that the deficit is a serious and complicated issue that cannot be solved overnight, it is ridiculous that the representatives we elected to work together and lead the country have been too busy fighting and blaming each other to make a plan to prevent the threat they put in place to force themselves to come to some agreement about how to proceed with the deficit.
This needs to stop. We need to either accept the enormous cuts which will put many people out of work, take away sorely needed aid, and possibly put the country’s safety at risk, or tell our representatives that we will not stand for this ridiculous notion that it is more important for their party to look good than it is for them to compromise and create a viable plan that can actually be used to start on the long road of fixing the deficit.