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Bring Out Real Sequester Facts and Choices

Until last weekend it was hard to get the mainstream media to report that the proposal for a sequester originated in the White House with Jack Lew and President Obama. After Bob Woodward's piece, the word did get out, though it is almost overwhelmed by the constant reports that the President blames Congress for the sequester. To revisit a cliche, this is like an arsonist berating the Fire Department for its slow response. If the President were a Republican, the media mockery and scorn would be tumultuous.

Another failure of media attention is the framing of the sequester issue as "brutal", "meat-cleaver" cuts supported by Republicans versus some careful and "balanced" approach by the President. This again is breathtaking cheek. The Republican House of Representatives has passed legislation that would give the President flexibility in administering the sequester. But the media either doesn't mention the House votes or passes over them quickly.

And yet another fact not mentioned often or at all in mainstream coverage is that the sequester doesn't really cut the overall budget, but only reduces the amount of growth. If my family plans to spend eight percent more this year and we decide to scale that back to four percent growth, can we say we have undergone a "cut", let alone a "draconian cut"? The media don't live in this fantasy mindset in their own companies, so why do they play such games in reporting the federal budget? Americans are losing sight of how monumental a debt problem we face.

Eric Cantor has listed a number of places to cut the budget without damaging the nation. There are some small items that fall in the category of "Golden Fleece" awards (referring to mock awards that the late Sen. William Proxmire, Democrat of Wisconsin used to cite as cases of federal waste). One of the bigger examples would be $100 million for EPA grants to foreign countries).

More consequential are duplicatory items that Cantor cites, such as the "94 federal initiatives to foster green building, 15 significant financial literacy programs across 13 agencies, 173 STEM education programs across 13 agencies; and 47 job-training programs." The green programs alone cry out for financial reform. Money has been thrown around in this field as if the government knew what it was doing, while the record says it does not.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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