We've heard a lot lately about sequestration.
But how did our lawmakers get us to this point?
Let's take a look.
It all started back in 2010 when the tea party swept into the House of Representatives. They argued that the stimulus measures – taken by the Obama administration to lessen the depth of the recession – created too much debt. To reduce this debt they were going to slash government spending...
Now, every so often Congress authorizes how much money the government can borrow. This is called the debt ceiling. Tea partiers claimed that the debt ceiling was too damn high.
"The Debt Ceiling is Too Damn High!"
But they were actually using the debt ceiling as leverage to advance their agenda of shrinking government services and cutting programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
After taking the U.S. economy to the brink of default, the right wing agreed to raise the debt ceiling, but only if they were guaranteed some sort of massive spending cuts.
The Right Wing
And thus the sequester was born.
The sequester was supposed to be so painful that Congress would have to come up with a plan. It was acclaimed by both Democrats and Republicans as a victory of bipartisanship.
So Congress formed a "super committee" to pass a “grand bargain” that would reduce the deficit by the same amount as the sequester, but with a more balanced mix of cuts and increased revenue.
The super committee
But the tea party went like this:
Due to tea party obstructionism the super committee didn't come up with a plan. The tea party refused to even consider raising taxes or ending tax giveaways for the super rich and big corporations. All they wanted to do was cut, cut, cut. The can was kicked down the road until after the election.
It looked like this, but in slow motion.
Time passed. Obama got re-elected and most of America was like this:
The people who voted for the other guy were like this:
Immediately following the election there were two deadlines. The Bush tax cuts were going to expire, raising taxes on most Americans in the middle of a weak economy. At the same time, sequestration was going to kick in, slashing spending indiscriminately. This combination of tax hikes on the middle class and devastating spending cuts was known as the FISCAL CLIFF.
At least the scenery is nice.
Instead of jumping off the fiscal cliff, President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner decided it was time for a grand bargain. They would compromise by raising revenue and cutting spending at the same time. Thanks to stubbornness from extreme conservatives, the grand bargain ended up something like this:
Ultimately, Obama preserved tax cuts for working people and forced the right to raise taxes on many wealthy Americans. The right wasn't happy about it, but some of them voted for it anyway.
Side note: although taxes went up slightly for wealthy Americans, secretaries still have a higher tax rate than many millionaires and billionaires.
Millionaires and billionaires.
After obstructing yet another compromise, extreme Republicans decided the sequester was still a good idea. They would use it to force cuts to vital programs. They would then use that money to continue subsidizing tax giveaways for the super rich and big corporations. The sequester was postponed until March 1.
March 1 is upon us. So now the sequester is about to kick in and right wingers are doing nothing to stop it. They won't end tax giveaways on big corporations and the super rich. They will only cut spending on programs and services that benefit working Americans.
John Boehner & Co. figure that by letting the automatic spending cuts go into effect they will be in a better bargaining position to demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the upcoming budget negotiations...even though these cuts will disproportionately affect senior citizens and working families.
Yeah, it's that messed up.
Most Americans feel like this:
The sequester will eliminate jobs, damaging our fragile economic recovery, and halt services that Americans, including our children, rely on. Things like food safety inspections, air traffic control, military training, pre-school education, community health centers, monitoring for water and air pollution, national parks, and nutritional aid for women, infants and children.
All because extremists in Congress refuse to eliminate special interest tax giveaways for the super rich and big corporations.
Tax giveaways for things like yachts.
So if this is how you feel:
"Oh, *hell* no!"
Then you should sign our petition telling Congress to Stop the Giveaways!
It’s time to stop the giveaways, protect the programs that working people rely on and create a fair economy. Sign our petition to Congress.