“The drastic $85 billion in automatic spending cuts Congress approved in hopes of heading off another deficit showdown may or may not occur, but federal agencies say the threat has been disrupting government for months as officials take costly and inefficient steps to prepare,” the breathless Washington Post reports. “This is what happens when the federal government prepares for something Congress never intended to become a reality. If Democrats and Republicans cannot end their deficit standoff by March 1, the cuts will kick in across the country. Sequestration, as the law is known, has sent agencies scrambling to buffer themselves, spending time and money that ultimately may be for naught.”
What follows in the article is a list of perfectly good — at least, mostly unobjectionable — things the feds might have to cut. What the article ignores, naturally, are the really stupid things the feds ought to cut, anyway.
“A National Weather Service official is planning to shut down radars on sunny days in the South — and crossing his fingers that no unexpected storms pass through,” the Post explains.
What the Post doesn’t explain, however, is that the weather service could easily be cut by a third, with no loss of value to taxpayers. As Citizens Against Government Waste points out, “Private companies such as AccuWeather and the Weather Channel distribute weather information 24 hours a day on television, the Internet, and radio.”
The Washington Post continues, “New federal grants for medical research are being postponed, resulting in layoffs now and costly paperwork later.”
That’s just asking for it. Let’s look at some of the “medical research” being conducted by the National Institutes for Health, according to Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual report.
Next, the Post defends defense.
“And military leaders, who are delaying training for active and reserve forces, are trying to negotiate millions of dollars in penalties that the Defense Department is incurring from canceled contracts,” it says, quoting Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. “There will be impacts for every decision we make.”
The newspaper explains, “the service is deferring maintenance to conserve money ‘so we can train a pilot to go to Afghanistan’ if cuts of up to 10 percent go through.”
Again, Sen. Coburn points out that inefficiencies are rife in the Pentagon. His report “The Department of Everything” has found more than $67 billion that could be saved over 10 years simply by ending duplicate, unnecessary and non-defense-related programs.
It’s clear who is to blame, according to the Post.
“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he thinks the cuts are inevitable because Democrats oppose Republican proposals to replace them with alternatives.”
And why, exactly, is that a bad thing?