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Posted on Tue. Feb. 26, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

EDITORIAL

Don't panic -- that sequester won't really kill Indiana

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It's not even a real spending cut that's being talked about.

The near-hysteria over the phony sequestration crisis has, alas, reached into Indiana. The “severe” $85 billion in “cuts” will have a disastrous effect here, the White House warns, and Hoosier media outlets dutifully report the details: furloughs for 11,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, reducing gross pay by around $64.4 million; a loss of about $13.8 million for primary and secondary education and $12.4 million more for education for children with disabilities; about $.3.3 million for environmental funding. And on and on, right down to the loss of $138,000 for services to victims of domestic violence. No clear air or water for us, and forget about all those battered spouses!

If this were even true, it would be mean a couple of bad things – one, that the government is far too involved in our lives and, two, that it is incompetent to do much of anything. That $85 billion is around 2.3 percent of the federal budget. What household is so inept that it can’t do with a cut of less than 3 percent? And if such a small reduction can bring such dire results, how in the world would be handle a real budget crisis?

But fortunately – or perhaps unfortunately for some – none of that is true. There are no real cuts. What is being talked about is a reduction of the proposed amount of increased spending. In Washington, if you decide to increase spending by, say, 10 percent then change your mind and decide on 5 percent, that’s a cut. A 50 percent Draconian cut that will lead to ruin!

It’s tempting to lay all this at President Obama’s feet. He is the fear-monger in chief, trying to frighten us with dire consequences so we will put up with ever-increasing levels of spending. But Republicans play the game, too. Notice that “solutions” to the sequestration crisis never involve serious cuts to spending. Yes, we will balance the budget, but years and years from now.

They all resort to fear-mongering because fear-mongering works. We have become a nation of government dependent addicts; why wouldn’t we be frightened of losing all of those services? Our politicians keep spending more because, no matter what lies we tell ourselves, that is what we send them to Washington to do. According to a new poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, in not a single category of 17 federal programs asked about, did a majority favor decreased spending. And in only three categories – foreign aid, unemployment aid and the State Department, was there more support for decreasing spending than increasing it.

Before we demand too loudly that Washington change, we’d better do some changing ourselves.


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