Sequester’s just the start

  • Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:01 a.m.
President Barack Obama is at it again, urging Congress to give him another short-term budget deal to buy time for a long-term agreement.

President Barack Obama is at it again, urging Congress to give him another short-term budget deal to buy time for a long-term agreement.

And though he said Tuesday that the delay would not be “to kick the can down the road,” that’s exactly what it would do.

The president apparently is still intent on imposing what would be, in effect, another round of tax hikes.

That makes any stop-gap agreement to escape the sequester quite unlikely, according to our state’s newest senator.

Sen. Tim Scott and President Obama are in agreement on this much, though: The sequester’s $85 billion in federal spending reductions, with roughly two-thirds coming from defense, would have a severely negative impact.

Sen. Scott, during a visit to this newspaper Tuesday, told us: “These are real cuts for real Americans that will have a real effect in our state.”

Yet Sen. Scott said he doubted any short-term agreement would be reached. He fairly pointed out that when the “fiscal cliff” was averted with major tax hikes less than two months ago, “that was supposed to be it” for such increases.

Republican opposition to those loophole-closing “revenue enhancements” remains strong. So if the sequestered cuts go through, the blame game will continue.

President Obama has ably cast the Republican House as the villain in recurring budgetary crises, including the year-ending fiscal-cliff fight and last month’s debt-ceiling showdown.

However, the sequester idea came from the Obama administration during the debt-ceiling fight.

As for the president’s notion that the 10-year spending plan now in place has already solved much of the deficit problem:

Two weeks ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected that under that plan, federal spending and the national debt will continue to rise at a significant rate — even if the sequestered cuts occur.

The deficits in coming years will supposedly be slightly smaller, but the estimated $600 billion in new revenue from the tax increases over the next decade is dwarfed by projected deficits totaling nearly $8 trillion. Meanwhile, most of the spending cuts that the president repeatedly cites aren’t scheduled to take place until the last two years of that 10-year plan.

As scary as that sounds, keep in mind that long-term budget plans are notoriously unreliable.

And if the looming sequestered cuts of $85 billion sound painful, consider the harm that would be done if the ever-rising debt forces even deeper reductions.

Still, President Obama, as usual, appears intent on resisting spending restraint — including meaningful entitlement reform.

On Tuesday, he even reprised this stale pitch: “The ideas that the Republicans have proposed ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations, so the burden is all on first responders or seniors or middle-class families.”

But the ideas that the president has proposed ignore long-term, bottom-line realities — including the fact that we can’t tax our way back to fiscal stability and prosperity.

And unless federal spending is brought under control, the harm inflicted by the looming sequestered cuts will be only a small preview of far worse consequences to come.

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