Right now, politicians are focusing on essentially two issues -- Obamacare (keep it, repeal it or fix it) and the economy (jobs for the average Joe and some stability for Main Street).
But there's a third issue slipping quietly under the radar and which could have a huge impact on Mountain Home -- sequestration.
That's the name given to the so-called deal that was struck during last years budget "crisis." Sure, the federal deficit is an issue that must be addressed, but the "crisis" was fabricated out of thin air. It did come within an inch of causing the federal government to come to a screeching halt and resulted in our bond rating being reduced, all because Congress couldn't find a compromise on the federal budget. Eventually, they just went with a continuing resolution to keep the old budget going and a promise they'd find a way to compromise and pass a budget with some serious debt reduction measures. To make sure they did that, they hung a sword over their heads (and that of the country), that would result in some draconian measures kicking in if they couldn't reach a deal by Jan. 2 of next year (before the new Congress is seated). It was assumed that the cuts that would automatically kick in would be so onerous to both sides they'd have to reach a deal.
But it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Nobody is budging and willing to compromise any more today than they were last year. If anything, now that the election season is in full swing, it's gotten worse. Nobody wants to compromise and give the other side any ammunition for the fall election. With disaster looming, politics and power is more important than good policy for the country.
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are all threatened by the cuts (ironically, none of the Congressional pension programs are threatened -- go figure).
But the cuts in the military are truly catastrophic when it comes to our nation's defense. And because the Pentagon is looking down the road and planning for the worst, some programs already are being affected.
Sequestration would result in an across the board 10 percent cut in military budgets.
It would reduce the Air Force to the smallest tactical fighter force in its history.
It would force the cancellation of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Billions have been spent to get the program to this point, where full production is just about to begin.
It would cancel efforts to replace the B-52 with a new long-range bomber.
It would result in the smallest ground force since 1950, the smallest navy since 1915 and cost a million private sector jobs.
Yet Congress is doing nothing to prevent this, waiting, as usual, until the last minute, in the brief period after the fall elections and before its December break, to try and solve the problem.
The original "debt crisis" may have been phoney, created out of thin air, but its solution was to create a genuine crisis by the end of this year.
Congress needs to act now, to make it a priority this summer, to prevent sequestration.
-- Kelly Everitt