Not getting our money’s worth

Author: Barrett Rainey

Today’s word is “SEQUESTER.” The two most popular definitions are “to hide away” and “to take by authority.” I would propose a third: “a nationally crippling action – totally self-inflicted – taken by the most incompetent Congress to ever sit in Washington, D.C.”

We’re entering our second month of this sequester madness. Little by little, “we, the people” are feeling the pressures. Each day brings word of new restrictions or ending a government service or program. Each day, millions more citizens who can’t afford the loss are forced to do so. Each day, the collective members of Congress sit on their collective asses and do nothing.

Here we are – two months in – and the only time you hear the word “sequester” is when it’s attached to some news story describing another loss of the government services we’ve already paid for. That’s the ONLY time!

Think about it. In the last two weeks, for example, have you heard the word “sequester” used positively in a story describing how concerned our members of Congress are about the load they’ve thrown on the electorate? Us? Have you read a single story – just one – saying Democrats and Republicans are working feverishly to end the moronic fiscal madness their infighting has caused? I mean, of course, aside from elimination of public tours of the White House which has angered traveling GOP constituents.

I have not. From beltway media, we’ve heard about immigration, gun safety, phony budgets passed in one house that won’t even get to a vote in the other. We’ve heard blame, name-calling, descriptions of new Republican-backed abortion bills and the 35th attempt to kill Obamacare. We’ve witnessed spineless filibusters to block presidential appointees and legislation that should’ve been placed for an up-or-down vote. We’ve heard tea party-types and their ignorant rants and even heard Hispanics called “wetbacks.” All in the last three weeks.

But honest work to solve real problems their intransigence and bickering have cost millions of Americans? None! Action to end this madness that threatens our national security? None! And it’s getting worse. Each day.

Here’s a tiny example in our northwest neighborhood. In Idaho, four small airports are losing FAA controller staff. Sequester. Accompanied by yet another government lie. “Closing the tower (and 148 others) should have no effect on safety,” according to an FAA spokesman. Take it from a former pilot, that’s not true. When existing traffic control was instituted at those airports, the FAA justified it by saying new services would “improve safety.” Well, if it did that then, how would removal not affect safety now? Which is it?

Some airlines won’t fly into airports without traffic control. Stop flights and how many lodging, restaurant, rental car companies and others will soon feel it? How many minimum wage employees will be let go? How many will turn to state and county governments for assistance? And who pays those bills?

Huffington Post has published 100 examples of indiscriminate cuts caused by sequester. Closed food pantries and health services – military readiness cutbacks – reduced food safety inspections – customs & immigration office closures – companies laying off workers and leaving openings unfilled – schools on military bases cut to four days – closed cancer treatment centers – medical research halted – some EMT services ended – closed job training schools – head start ended – and on and on and on.

Let’s throw another log on this pile of congressional failure. Two years ago this month, Congress cost us a reduction in our national bond rating. Another economic body blow. Totally self-inflicted. In turn, that directly meant higher interest rates for borrowed money to pay the national debt. Debt they ran up. The unnecessary additional costs? Billions! Who pays?

So, it’s been two years. What have you heard lately about congressional labors to improve our debtor standing – regain the top bond rating they lost – and stop paying billions more on the national debt? Is there a “gang of eight” or a “gaggle of four” or a “herd of three” or even a single soul working to reverse this national embarrassment? Even one?

Despite our best private efforts, our economy is being sabotaged by our own government. Rather than working for the national good, it’s being held back and even thwarted by elected partisans who never should’ve held office in the first place.

The failures and many costly failures we’re experiencing have been directly caused by one ineffective congress after another. As this needless, damaging and hurtful sequester and the continued partisan wrangling continue to eat up limited resources and create hardships on millions, there appear to be no honest efforts underway to end the problems. Those who could do what’s necessary to heal our crippled government seem content to let all this go where it will with the hope that – somehow – it will all sort itself out.

What’s our $174,500 per head buying us? Not very damned much!

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