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Sequester time is here

President Barack Obama speaks to the media about sequestration in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on March 1, 2013 following a meeting with U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Congressional leaders.

How even the sequester leads back to actor Kevin Bacon, in six points or less. Check out our interactive infographic: 6 Degrees of Sequestration (and Kevin Bacon).

The much-discussed sequestration went into effect today, which means dramatic across-the-board cuts for a number of industries in the country -- including defense, health care and education. How much will this affect our economy?

"We will see in the coming months that everything will have this layer of uncertainty around it," said The Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy. "We have other problems from the last fight -- from the fiscal cliff -- with payroll taxes having gone up, it's going to really muddy all of our understanding of the economy. But the sequester will hurt the economy -- there's really no way of getting around that."

"It's hard to tell where our economy is. We've had some good data, we've had some bad data. So it's not as if we have perfect knowledge of where we are in terms of coming out of this recession, so that we can tell where we're going to go," said The Guardian's Heidi Moore. "So this could go on for months. Where this would put us -- we're not on such a good path already. We're probably going to be stagnating for the next few months whether or not the sequester happens."

Listen to the full audio for more analysis of the sequester. And here are Reddy's and Moore's longreads picks for the weekend:

Sudeep Reddy suggests:

Heidi Moore writes: "In honor of the sequester and my recent obsession with "House of Cards," the great political drama on Netflix, my best reads this week are all about the culture of Washington. The more you read (and see) about the way political operatives work, the more clear the reasons become for these manufactured crises: in Washington, it is better to be talked about than not talked about."

  • Marin Cogan has a brilliant piece -- full of not-safe-for-work language -- in The New Republic about the sexual politics of reporting in Washington. It's titled, winningly, "House of Cads." The story is direct, full of horror stories of awkward come-ons -- comparing professional women to porn stars, for instance -- but it also illuminates the byways of power and how it's exercised in the nation's capital, bringing to mind stories like the ones behind Claude Chabrol's "A Girl Cut in Two." The best quote in the story comes from Atlantic editor Garance Franke-Rutka: “I think journalism schools should have workshops for young female reporters on managing old men who have no game and think, because you’re listening to them intently and probing what they think and feel, that you’re romantically interested, rather than conducting an interview.”
  • My second favorite read this week has to do with the fascinating dustup between veteran millionaire journalist Bob Woodward and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. They sparred over the sequester, and Woodward soon made the rounds of TV talk shows saying that a private email exchange with Sperling left him threatened. This struck many reporters, including me, as very dubious -- nasty fights are the coin of the realm when it comes to political communications directors, who take great joy in comparing notes on the abuse they heap on reporters, and vice versa. Moreover, Woodward is as powerful, if not more so, than Sperling: the Watergate scandal and the book and movie of All the President's Men mean that Woodward's name will live in the top pages of history, where Sperling's name will be best known to political operators.  What makes the whole thing really fascinating, however, is the actual email exchange that was released by the White House. Sperling comes off as conciliatory, and even a bit timid. That led to a hilarious tweet from Huffington Post political writer Paul Blumenthal: "I'm old enough to remember when the White House would out your CIA agent wife in retaliation instead sending obsequious e-mails."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

How even the sequester leads back to actor Kevin Bacon, in six points or less. Check out our interactive infographic: 6 Degrees of Sequestration (and Kevin Bacon).

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Kai, it will not be the congressional republicans to blame when the collapse of the roman empire visits us when your children, mature adults, become unemployed because the american people in their government has become over leveraged. it will be your fault, Kai. you. you who blame those who try to save your children from your errors. you are spending too much, Kai. you

fortunately, my children will be insulated from such economic irresponsibility, as i chose to spare them from it

Uncommon problems with this section, Heidi Moore, Kai Ryssdal

I don't think Heidi even listened to anything President Obama said when she proclaimed "False". The President said that whatever economic indicators show, those indicators would be better without the sequester. All the reasons she used were wrong. Among others, President Obama never said the sequester is the sole reason the economy would tank. As a legitimate journalist, Heidi needs to respond to what was actually said, not what she made up in her head. That's for Fox News to do.

I am disappointed that Kai didn't call her on this because it seemed very obvious. It would have been pretty simple to do so, but he decided to accept her reasoning as legitimate. I expect this behavior from entertainers, but not from people who want to be taken seriously.

There appears to be such a lack of understanding of the working class. The upper class doesn't have a real sense of sacrifice. The argument that if they pay more in taxes, it contributes such a small part is proof positive. This is because they never had to make the small changes like buying the cheapest, most cost effective products from the supermarket, maximizing the use of a car or public transportation. It is saving pennies here and there that at the end of the month may not have a major impact, but over time it adds up. But the wealthy can't understand that. They don't have to make the decision to give their children everything they need for a healthy meal while cutting back on what they eat themselves because the nutrition is more important for their child's growing body. Some people can't even afford to feed their children and rely on schools to provide breakfast and lunch. If this isn't your daily life it is difficult to have any sympathy let alone empathy. This is why our Senators and Congressmen won't make sacrifices similar to what they ask of the people. Democrats, Republicans and mostly Tea Party personnel cannot fathom what sacrifice means. They actually believe they are so (self) important and their salaries are earned. What they fail to realize is that they are not the solution, their position allows them to provide the solution but that is only if it is filled with an individual who can comprehend the problem. Somewhere along the line they lost focus on their job. They are no more than federal employees, who are supposed to represent the best interest of their constituents. They are not there to serve the lobbyist, whoever gives them the most money or the wealthy. This nation is not made up of the wealthy, nor do the wealthy represent the needs and wants of this nation. “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” “We the people” it doesn't start off with “The wealthy,” “The lobbyist”, what happened to our once great nation.
I would be willing to bet that the Senators, Congressmen and wealthy don't participate at soup kitchens, food banks, etc routinely. How can they understand what a nation needs when they are so far removed from the people. The wealthy don't have the solution. Try looking people in the eye and telling them there is no more food to hand out when they have a family of four that they need to feed but not the means to do so. There are an abundance of food insecure homes in this nation and we have a congress that feels the need to shift more of the burden onto them because there are so many. To them it makes sense to take from the working class who have so little or practically nothing, only because there are so many of us. These Senators and Congressmen think that the wealthy, who have more than they need to live a comfortable life, should not have to share the burden.
Our nation continues to decline under the guise of free market and democracy. Companies have a right to sell whatever they want to who ever they want. Why do we need to classify violent video games as art? Our children don't need these games, it's big business that needs our children to buy these games. To make more profit, show big growth to investors, and keep their large salaries and big bonuses? What has happened to our value system, our scruples? Do you really think the NRA and gun companies are interested in 2nd amendment rights? Only in the sense that they can profit from it. They have deceived you, they preach 2nd amendment rights but that isn't what the battle is about. As always it is about money. Big businesses selling 10 billion bullets last year. If they only made one penny off of each bullet you are looking at a 100 million profit per year. All these people who preach 2nd amendment rights don't realize that they are being used by these big companies. You're just their pawn.
And companies will continue to go in the wrong direction to satisfy their greed. All driven to provide the wealthy owners, upper level management and the share holders with more money. What does this mean for the working class? Companies raiding their pension funds, not contributing into the retirements plans. Cutting back hours so that they don't pay for full benefits. Companies devote big budgets to get you to buy products you don't need or food that is not healthy for you. It's greed, pure and simple. Instead of employing psychologists to figure out how to sell you a phone you don't need, can you imagine what could be possible if that budget was devoted on how to educate children better?
How can you honestly sit back and do nothing as companies who tamper with the cost of a product, blaming unrest and turmoil as impacting their production when they report record profits over and over. All our congress does is form a committee ask some questions (saber rattling) and in the end they do nothing accept provide them with subsidies. Companies schedule maintenance and slow production down for changing over product so that they can raise prices and you put up with it over and over. How is it that an entire industry hasn't managed to figure out how to do business better after decades of doing it the wrong way? Because there is profit and no motivation to change their ways. California's power companies where found to be scheduling maintenance during high demand times so that they could jack the prices up on electricity and again there is no real punishment. The free market system is not based on providing a fair product at a fair price, but is rather based on how much they can gouge the working class. How did our government allow wall street management to collect bonuses and such large salaries when they toppled our economy? Contracts? The government had the money that these wall street firms needed, there is no bigger bargaining chip. They were done for without help from the government, so the government gets to set the boundaries, you don't let the people you are helping set the terms and conditions in a case like that. Have these firms learned anything? In a word, no.
Our Congressmen and Senators are telling us that it isn't going to be that big of a deal, and that is true for themselves. They will not be laid off, they will not be furloughed, they will not take any cut in pay, they will not lose business. They won't have to worry about missing mortgage payments and feeding their families. Easy enough to say from the ivory tower. You gave them their job and only you can take it away. Will you do anything about it? Will you continue to listen to their lies and keep them employed? Is it really that each party has the answer and it is the other parties fault as to why we can't get resolution? Do you believe this? We have a government of children, if this does not ring of “It's my ball and if you don't play the way I want, I am leaving and taking my ball with me”. This isn't a war, when you talk about acceptable losses, and not people. No one would talk about losing 100 men as it is far easier to accept when you impersonalize the message. This is what your Senators and Congressmen are doing.
Einstein is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. How many times are you going to put these same groups back in office? I don't support any organized groups such as the Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party and Libertarians as they have agendas that I cannot agree with completely. But none of this waivers your desire to put the same people back into office. You need to realize that the root of the problem is these organized parties who have the wrong agenda. These organized parties are a problem that has been plaguing this nations for far to long. We need people who understand that they represent the best interest of the people (all the people). And as the scales have been tilted in the wrong direction for some time it is time to tip them back to level.

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