Updated: April 2, 2013 6:25AM
However the sequester cuts in federal spending play out in the weeks ahead, the controversy offers a telling view into the big-government arrogance and ambitions of the liberal ascendency in Washington. Exhibit A was a speech given by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) emblematic of the scare tactics rained on Americans about the impact of the spending reductions.
She seized on the stabbing murder of a prison guard in Pennsylvania to argue that the sequester would lead to layoffs at federal prisons endangering the remaining prison guards and to job losses across the federal criminal justice system making the world a safer place for street gangs, drug cartels, child predators and the like.
“Can’t we just cut 2 percent just like American families? American families don’t run prisons. They don’t build their own roads. They don’t have to put out their own local police department. They depend on their government to do that,” Mikulski said.
The little people can find ways to cope with reduced family budgets forced on them, but not the big federal government. It has challenges — federal prisons for God’s sake! — far more difficult that the mom and dad struggling in these uncertain economic times to figure out how to save on groceries as food prices are projected to rise 3 percent to 4 percent in the coming year and to fuel the family car with gas prices up nearly half a buck since New Year’s Day.
Mikulski goes on to say that American families are “willing to expend revenue, pay taxes, so that they are protected.” Of course they are. Her arguments, like those of President Barack Obama, are built on worst-case scenarios and false choices. One doomsday prediction blew up in their faces when reporters pressed Education Secretary Arne Duncan for examples of his claim teachers are getting pink slips because of the sequester and there wasn’t one.
Yes, the sequester imposes tough across-the-board cuts, but evidence is mounting that the administration has more flexibility in deciding how to reduce spending than it has acknowledged. Moreover, Republicans in Congress have shown they’re willing to grant the White House even more leeway.
But the idea that a U.S. budget of $3.6 trillion can’t survive spending restraint of 2 or 3 percent is preposterous. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who has documented wasteful spending for years, wrote the White House noting the General Accounting Office has identified 1,362 duplicative programs costing $364.5 billion every year. For example, 20 agencies administer 160 programs for housing assistance at a cost of $170 billion. The sequester would reduce federal spending by half that amount this year.
Obama’s answer to the sequester is another tax increase on “the rich.” But the wealthy don’t have enough money to pay for his vision of ever-expanding government. His sock-it-to-the-rich scheme is a Trojan horse for tax hikes affecting far more Americans down the road. Don’t take my word for it. The Obama-friendly editorial board of the New York Times says that more taxes will be needed to fund government and entitlements even as federal coffers swell from a strengthening economy. It argues that “there will never be a consensus for more taxes from the middle class without imposing higher taxes on wealthy Americans.”
That’s the future Obama offers the country — more government, more spending, more borrowing, and more taxes — and that means bigger taxes not just for the wealthy.