July 25, 2012
Because congressional leaders failed to reach a bipartisan compromise on deficit reduction, the legislative equivalent of a deficit-reducing guillotine now hangs by a tripwire over federal spending. If the guillotine falls on January 2, 2013, every “discretionary” federal program - or 40% of federal spending - will face cuts of 8 percent or more.
To date, the media (and most politicians) have focused on the possible defense industry job losses that could result. High powered dignitaries are parading through the streets of Washington preaching defense job losses and stories of doom and gloom for defense contractors. Little has been written about the impact such cuts would have on non-defense areas of the budget.
Today, Senator Tom Harkin released a new report, Under Threat - Sequestration’s Impact on Nondefense Jobs and Services. Long a proponent of prevention, Senator Harkin’s report takes a look at what would happen in other areas of federal spending if these cuts take place. The numbers are troubling. Here are just a few:
Most agree that nothing will happen before November, but if Congress sits on its hands for the few legislative days between the November elections and the fall of the guillotine in January, social service and health programs will take a devastating hit.
One odd fact about guillotines - it seems the head is about 8% of the entire mass of the body. And cutting off your brain as a means to lose weight is about as smart as using a 8% sequester to fix a deficit. Congress must find a meaningful compromise so these grim scenarios don’t come to pass.
January 2, 2012
A story in The Washington Post just before the holidays looked into the hard cold numbers behind Medicare spending. For example, did you know enrollment in the program is expected to nearly double from 47 million today to 88 million by 2040?
And once again, not one policy expert, political party platform or number-crunching expert proposes keeping costs down by focusing on preventing disease and disability. The reporter didn’t mention prevention either, even though 70 percent of Medicare spending is used to treat preventable conditions.
Anyway, here are some great charts from the piece: