by Tom Giovanetti, Institute for Policy Innovation August 14, 2013
Remember how the Obama administration tried to spread panic about the backstop that was built into the 2011 debt ceiling agreement, the dreaded “sequester”? How they warned of tainted meat, delayed flights, reduced border patrols, cuts to Head Start, fewer teachers, police and firefighters, criminals released, and loss of flu vaccinations and cancer screenings?
Remember how, as it drew near in early 2013, pundits almost universally agreed that the sequester would be a disaster?
Hopefully you also remember how IPI served as a voice of reason. We wrote a paper praising the sequester and explaining that it represented the mildest down payment on the kind of spending restraint that is necessary if we are to have any hope of setting our fiscal house in order. We created charts to explain just how small the sequester restraints were. We blogged and gave speeches and did TV and went on the radio to defend the sequester.
Well, in a much noted op/ed in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, Stephen Moore explained that “The Budget Sequester Is a Success.” In his piece, Moore points out, “The $150 billion budget decline of 4% is the first time federal expenditures have fallen for two consecutive years since the end of the Korean War.”
Moore further relates that the budget deficit has fallen from its peak of 10.2 percent of GDP in 2009 to about 4 percent this year. And that, by the end of this year, federal spending could fall from 25.2 percent of GDP to 21.5 percent--close to the country’s post-WWII average.
Just as importantly, Government Executive website lists a string of news items explaining the supposed terrible results simply haven’t happened, and that even the minor and defensible temporary furloughs of federal employees have been fewer than anticipated.
The sequester has been a success.
Of course, the Government Class hasn’t given up and can be relied upon to link any possible negative impact to the sequester, just as it links every weather incident to global warming. It will even be the villain if we are attacked by aliens from outer space or hit by an asteroid. They never give up.
But it’s blunt tools like the sequester that we must never give up. As this fall’s debt ceiling showdown draws near, congressional leaders must make clear that scheduled sequester restraints will not be sacrificed or traded away. In fact, its fiscal success should embolden congressional leaders to insist on even more sequester cuts to enforce agreements and understandings with the White House for all future debt-ceiling increases, continuing resolutions and other spending agreements.