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Sequester

Posted: February 19, 2013 3:44 p.m.
Updated: February 20, 2013 5:00 a.m.

The government sequester which is set to take place next week unless Congress can agree on budgetary matters has been a source of countless news reports. In simple terms, it’s a way of dealing with government spending cuts, and it’s newsworthy -- and imminent -- because of the failure of Congress to come to an agreement on fiscal policy. It’s looming now because the “fiscal cliff” agreement made not long ago didn’t solve the country’s spending problems.

While American budgetary matters are extremely complicated, one basic fact is not: that the country continues to spend far more than it receives in tax revenue. Democrats and Republicans have been unable to come to an agreement on solving that differential, and thus the sequester will mandate automatic cuts. And while it’s not a responsible way to deal with the deficit, it does start the reduction ball rolling.

Let’s compare these “draconian” cuts -- that’s a word that the-sky-is-falling Democrats are using for the sequester -- with a typical American family budget. Cutting $110 billion a year in spending, as the sequester would do, would amount to a reduction of about three-tenths of a percent per year. For a family making $75,000, with a take-home pay of $60,000, that would equate to the family’s cutting $15 a month in spending this year.

Somehow, we think the family could survive that $15-a-month cut, with one fewer pizza or movie or bottle of wine. Of course, it’s not that simple with the government, but it does point out just how small a percentage we’re talking about -- far lower than we actually need to cut to get the country back on sound footing. No, the sequester isn’t perfect, but it’s not a disaster, either.

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