Let's properly recognize Sequestration Day disservice

Posted Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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norman If not for the professional consequences, I'd swear off national politics as of today. On a personal level, I've pretty much had it with our federal elected officials -- every member of the House, the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden, right on up to and including President Barack Obama.

Not one of them proved worthy of their high office in the fiasco called "sequestration" -- $85 billion worth of automatic, across-the-board federal spending cuts set to start today.

As much as Independence Day is our day of national glory, Sequestration Day is our day of shame.

I wish I could turn it all off as easily as I turn off the TV set when one side insists that calamity awaits if we continue to spend and the other pointing to dire consequences if we don't.

If political posturing and finger-pointing are what it takes to make a great country, Sequestration Day is when the U.S. dominates the world -- no, the universe.

OK, I'll stop whining and get to specifics. I'm a professional journalist, anyway, and I can't afford to shun national politics altogether.

Sequestration Day is a good time to pay tribute to distinguished service on behalf of government dysfunction.

Obama gets the gold medal for his scare mongering. He clinched the top prize on Tuesday when he went to Newport News, Va., for the purpose of telling the 21,000 employees of Newport News Shipbuilding that their jobs are in jeopardy "because of politics in Washington."

Hypocrisy on a grand scale is a hallmark of the misbehavior that has led us to sequestration. Who does the president think is responsible for shaping "politics in Washington"?

Is he saying it's the people who don't agree with him? No, he's simply demonstrating that he can be as stubborn a finger-pointer as his opponents.

That's part of politics, but he shouldn't use the thousands of people who work at Newport News, or the 6,000 civilians at Fort Hood in central Texas, or the almost 2,200 at Naval Air Station Fort Worth or any of the hundreds of thousands of other federal workers threatened with layoffs and furloughs as simple tools of political leverage.

Real people, real families, shouldn't be treated that way.

The silver medal for outstanding sequestration politics -- really, silver with a gold core, because he's such a close second to Obama -- has to go to House Speaker John Boehner.

The top House Republican demonstrated his shallowness as a statesman on Tuesday when he said the end to sequestration can only come when "the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something."

Boehner has been in the House a dozen years. He should be able to handle frustration -- and steer toward real progress on difficult matters -- better than that.

And the Sequestration Day bronze medal for public disservice goes, of course, to all the other members of the Senate and the House who, despite the failure of their leaders, should have fashioned targeted spending cuts instead of the meat-cleaver actions scheduled to start happening today.

And yes, Obama's proposals for shutting down certain federal subsidies and increasing revenue by closing tax loopholes should be on the bargaining table.

There's no such thing as a perfect solution in politics, but by the same token there's no such thing as an impermeable deadlock. There are only elected officials with varying levels of leadership skill who can dispel inaction or can't.

Sequestration Day is a clear sign that leadership is exhausted in Washington. We can only hope the condition is temporary.

Mike Norman is editorial director of the Star-Telegram.


Twitter: @mnorman9

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