This Friday, $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect. The Obama administration has been all doom and gloom about the impact they’ll have.
We’ve been presented with images of wretched travelers languishing in long airport security lines. Visitors barred from national parks, and meat shortages in the supermarket. It’s Washington’s version of a Frankenstein movie.
The Obama administration is ratcheting up the drama to convince Congress to delay the massive budget cuts, known in Washington as the sequester. The dire warnings would have us believe that the sequester monster will break out of its cage at the stroke of midnight on March 1st, and rampage through the federal government. But some Washington wonks think the monster won’t flex his muscles right away. And actually, may not have any muscles.
“The sequester is probably more like The Blob than Frankenstein,” Jim Kessler, policy analyst at the Washington think tank Third Way, explains. “It’s not like you’re going to see rumbling earthquakes as Frankenstein walks down the street. It has a more subtle effect.”
Kessler says we won’t feel the brunt of the sequester’s wrath until late March or April because much of the budget-cutting will come in the form of unpaid leave for federal workers, and they have to have 30 days notice first. But, if Congress and the White House can’t come up with a deal to shove the sequester back in its cage before April, watch out.
Stan Collender is a budget expert, now at Qorvis Communications. He asks: Remember how the Frankenstein movies end? “Once the sequester happens and the peasants start to storm the castle with pitchforks, the politics of this will change and the average member of Congress is going to get a lot of pressure to just stop it one way or another.”
And, Collender says, if the sequester monster isn’t stopped, the peasants just may turn their pitchforks on the politicians.