The sequester goes into effect Friday if Congress can’t come up with a sensible budget both sides of the aisle can agree on.
Which means it’s probably going to happen.
Spending cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years were ordered a year and a half ago if a budget deficit reduction plan couldn’t be reached.
“Those automatic, across-the-board spending cuts were supposed to be so painful it would force the president and Congress to make a deal,” as Chris Wallace explained on Fox News.
Not so much.
We’re a day away, with no sign of reprieve. So 700,000 civilian defense workers nationwide would have to take off one day a week — a 20 percent pay cut. Okaloosa County’s civilian workers face significant hits to their household incomes.
Private businesses that contract with civilian workers, lacking necessary government oversight, may consider furloughs themselves, as reporter Brian Hughes learned from InDyne General Manager Jim Heald.
Florida’s federally funded senior meal programs face a $3.8 million cut and 1,700 low-income college students will lose their work study positions, according to the Panama City News Herald.
Watch the dominoes fall.
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi proves herself hopelessly tone deaf when asked whether the same lawmakers who made this all possible should take a pay cut.
"Most of my colleagues are the breadwinners in their families,” Pelosi told CNN. "A pay cut, to me, doesn't mean as much."
Earth to Pelosi: A 20 percent pay cut for a Congress member earning $174,000 annually pales in contrast to hacking, say, a $40,000, $20,000 or even $17,000 salary, just some of the amounts on the civilian pay scales, according to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service website.
The country’s median household income — which includes not just one earner, but anyone more than 15 years old — is around $50,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. One Congress member earns more than three times as much.
Everyday folks working 40-hour grinds or stacked part-time jobs are the true breadwinners; lawmakers who take a vacation when this country needs them most — particularly those with a 15 percent approval rating, according to the latest Gallup poll — are overpaid slackers.
It takes a law to change Congress’ compensation, according to the 27th Amendment, and the change wouldn’t occur until the next election anyway, but Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., used a loophole to promote good morale. Paul returned $600,000, or 20 percent, of his office budget to the U.S. Treasury; Mulvaney plans to return $160,000, or 12 percent, of his office budget to the federal government, CNN reported.
Some bright spots amid appallingly poor optics.
Like President Barack Obama’s golf outing with Tiger Woods and First Lady Michelle Obama’s media blitz that included a dancing appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and schmoozing, via satellite, with the 1 percent during Sunday Night’s Academy Awards.
Okaloosa civilians facing unexpected pay cuts, it’s safe to say, don’t care who wins that Best Picture award, Mrs. Obama. That’s the fantasy world. We’re in the real world.
And congressional Republicans and Democrats need to play "Let's Make a Deal."
I’ve always believed that you should avoid not just impropriety but the appearance of impropriety, which this nation’s leaders have exhibited in spades.
Change out of the dresses and leisurewear, cancel the talk show appearances, get into some business attire, roll up your sleeves, and for goodness’ sake, get to work.
Contact News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbeditor.