Sunday, March 10, 2013

Betty McCollum on the Sequester

The first event at the Saturday Mar 9 Woodbury town hall was a 3 round knock down debate on specific details about the sequester.  During her introductory comments Rep Betty McCollum made a statement about the sequester. See in the complete video from 4:40 to 7:30.  Or in this tubechop version of just the clip.

[Betty McCollum] If your family really had to make some tough decisions in spending and you were sitting around the kitchen table would you say well let's cut everything by 8%. Let's cut our mortgage payment by 8%, let's cut our food by 8% let's cut our moving budget by 8%, our transportation by 8%, our health insurance, we're just going to cut it all by 8% and that's how we're going to balance everything.  Now not one of you would do that in your real life. Unfortunately that's what the sequester is a real basic. There are some carve out's, department of defense is in one pot of money with VA and State and the other discretionary is another.  But the military came and testified, I'm on the military sub-committee, you know we don't need to cut our military teachers by 8% because if the schools aren't open...

[Voice from the back] Ma'am, ma'am tell us the truth. Its not 8%, [many voices come in] It 2.4.. Don't tell us..   Thank you..

[Betty McCollum] Sir, sir...[Betty trying to overwhelme the voices] ...  I have a limited voice, people came to hear, I'm going to make comments, and then we're going to open it up to comments.

[Voice from the back] We don't want to hear lies.. We don't want to hear lies..  [others adding..] Its 2%..

So for all the discord, what's the real history and facts of the sequester.

Both Betty McCollum's 8% and the 2.4% are "correct", just misleading or not complete descriptions, because of the varied way's statistics can be created to create a wide variety of impressions. Though probably a "bit" more misleading on Rep McCollum's part, because her use of "everything" is simply not correct.  The original proposition about the sequester was to cut 8% from parts of the military budget and some entitlements. So she is "technically" correct, the wording did use 8%. The combined areas that were subject to the cut comprises near 25% of the spending, that's how we get to 2.4% of the entire budget.  We can't really call it a budget since no budget has passed the Democrat controlled Senate since Barack Obama became President.  I am somewhat surprised Betty McCollum did not state this to quiet the detractors. As a member of the budget and appropriations committee's she would certainly know the exact terms.  Tactically [and that's what politics is all about, in the new Obama world] it wouldn't support her and President Barack Obama's meme of horribly damaging/draconian cuts. So she probably doesn't want to have it remembered as such, the "8%" certainly has much more flair.  The White House stance is too make the sequester look as painful as possible with immense histrionics, and has sent emails to that effect, committing to make it that way for the public.

The sequester was an idea originating in the Obama White House and submitted to Harry Reid and Congress as a way to get agreement to raise the debt ceiling once again by "balancing" increases with some cuts.
Georgetown University Government Affairs Institute, Impact of the Sequester
"Of the $85 billion in scheduled cuts, $71 billion will come out of discretionary funding, and $14 billion will come out of entitlement programs. Within discretionary funding, defense (excluding military personnel accounts) will be cut by around 8% across the board, and nondefense funding that’s subject to the automatic reductions will be cut by between 5 percent and 6 percent."
To follow Rep Betty McCollum's analogy, and correct it to match the actual sequester language and effect, you would have to modify her statement to be [noting "we're" = anthropomorphizing of federal government spending, which Rep McCollum agreed later in the discussion "we have a spending problem"]:
If your family had to make some tough decisions about reducing spending, you can't choose your fixed mortgage or health insurance, but might choose expenditures on gas and say we're going to cut all non-work related use of gasoline 8%.  And since we're more than a little over weight, we're going to go on that long needed diet and cut the, non child related, food bill by 8%  To get a 2.4%  reduction in our total spending.
Throughout the town hall discussion Rep Betty McCollum kept saying we shouldn't be doing these "across the board, dumb cuts". It would seem she would want to support an alternative to be able to make more scalpel like decisions in what to cut. Did she support the Inhofe-Toomey bill that would have given President Barack Obama the ability to do just that, "smart/targeted" cuts?  He said he didn't want that authority, did she support him in that?

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