'Sequester', Continuing Resolutions, and the Un-Budget

By SUA Staff – All the talk about cuts and ‘sequestration’ is mind-numbing to say the least. If you listen to or read what the White House has issued, you’d be hiding under your bed in a fetal position. If you listen to reason though, after cutting through the political spin and tortured explanations, you see a different picture.

Check the actual budget numbers here. As required by the Budget Control Act of 2011, Obama finally reported on the impact:

These are among the findings in a new 394-page report by the White House that was delivered Friday to Congress, detailing line by line what will happen next year if Washington fails to act to head off about $100 billion in military and domestic spending cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 2. The Obama administration had been reluctant to specify the impact of sequestration, as the automatic, across-the-board spending reduction is called. But once forced to do so by Congress, the White House budget office did not scrimp on the details. (Read more here.)

Always remember one fact – there are no cuts in the baseline budget – its just a reduction in planned increases to the non-existent “Un-Budget.” The cuts they speak of are in the increases now ‘portraying’ an actual budget.

Many followed the “sky is falling” lead and gave us their look at the impact based upon White House and administration assertions, but those of course are a function of leadership or lack thereof. Read the article by Matthew Green at KQED: “The Sequester Explained in Plain English” and you will see how far they reach; try not to laugh too hard.

But, this week, even Obama had to walk back a lot of what was being told but the real impact is on the military but indeed the ‘sequester’ is in place and next is the CR, or continuing resolution:

Across-the-board federal spending cuts began Friday, clearing the way for a series of budget battles that will consume much of Congress’s energy and threaten to eclipse other items on President Barack Obama’s second-term agenda.

Mr. Obama signed an order late Friday directing $85 billion in cuts to domestic and defense programs, after holding a fruitless meeting with congressional leaders who remained at odds over how to avoid the reductions, known as a sequester.

The more immediate concern is the need to keep the government operating after March 27.  Next week, the House is expected to pass a Republican bill to extend funding for many government programs—including defense, education, and veterans’ benefits—at the ‘pre-sequester’ level of $1.043 trillion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the same level as the year before. But it would also carry a provision saying that sequestration would apply. That would bring the cost of the bill below $1 trillion, which is considered key to winning support from House GOP conservatives. (Read more here.)

Of course, a detailed look at the many duplicated programs, other waste, fraud, and corruption would have easily eclipsed the measly 2% the $85 billion ‘sequester’ this year if they were removed. Obama had promised in 2008 that he would do just that, but alas, in over four years, none of that took place. “And, absolutely, we need earmark reform. And when I’m president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.”

The only persons of note who did look were Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) (See his budget here.) and Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) who has been producing his “Waste Book”. Take a look at the 2011 and 2012 reports from his office. Here are a few highlights:

“Waste Book” 2011:

  •  $75,000 to promote awareness about the role Michigan plays in producing Christmas trees & poinsettias.
  • $15.3 million for one of the infamous Bridges to Nowhere in Alaska.
  • $113,227 for video game preservation center in New York.
  • $550,000 for a documentary about how rock music contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  • $48,700 for 2nd annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival, to promote Hawaii’s chocolate industry.
  • $350,000 to support an International Art Exhibition in Venice, Italy.
  • $10 million for a remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan.
  • $35 million allocated for political party conventions in 2012.
  • $765,828 to subsidize “pancakes for yuppies” in the nation’s capital.
  • $764,825 to study how college students use mobile devices for social networking.

“Waste Book” 2012:

  • The most unproductive and unpopular Congress in modern history – (Congress) $132 million
  • Professional sports loophole – (Taxes) $91 million
  • OH SNAP! Junk food, luxury drinks, soap operas, and billions of dollars in improper food stamp payments – (Department of Agriculture) $4.5 billion
  • Oklahoma keeps unused airport open to collect federal checks – (OK) $450,000
  • Moroccan pottery classes – (U.S. Agency for International Development) $27 million
  • Out-of-this-world Martian food tasting – (HI) $947,000
  • When robot squirrels attack – (CA) $325,000
  • USDA’s caviar dreams – (ID) $300,000
  • Bailed out tourist boat sinking private business – (AK) $3.3 million
  • Phantom, unused grant accounts draw fees – (Department of Health and Human Services) $2 million
How broken is the Federal Government? Its just insanity and the President does not want it to change – that is the only explanation that adds up. Then there is the stimulus watchdog, VP “Sheriff” Joe Biden – let’s see that accounting as well. Take a look here, or here, its not a pretty picture, and the accounting is still incomplete. So we ask, how is the ‘sequester’ really important other than the now and future diminished military, and what happens next when the CR is upon us in the weeks ahead?

Army Details Where Sequestration Will Hit Hardest

By Michael Hoffman – Military.com

Army leaders got down to the gritty details of how sequestration will affect the service with examples ranging from the reduction of day care hours to delaying weapons programs to asking soldiers to collect trash on post.

On Tuesday, the Army executed a four-hour, service-wide planning exercise to outline the choices service leaders will have to make should Congress fail to avert the $500 billion in budget cuts associated with sequestration, which is slated to start Friday.

The Army stands to lose the most from their budget mainly because it’s the largest service in the military. In 2013, Army budget officials must cut $18 billion from the service’s budget before Oct. 1 should sequestration occur.

The $18 billion cut is not solely due to sequestration. An extension of the continuing resolution that funds the military at 2012 levels will cost the Army $6 billion in 2013. Another $6 billion bill is included in the $18 billion total due to emerging requirements from the war in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Karen Dyson, the director of the Army’s budget office, explained.

No matter the source, Army leaders said Wednesday that the service will have to make drastic cuts across the Army to services, training and operations. The sequestration legislation handcuffs Army officials from protecting certain accounts other than pay, operations in Afghanistan and Korea, and the Wounded Warrior program.

Making matters harder for officials will be the furlough that Defense Department civilians must take as part of the Pentagon’s cost saving measures in dealing with sequestration. Starting in April, civilians will have to take one unpaid furlough day per week until Oct. 1. This will limit the services the Army can provide and make it tougher to make up for the reduction in funds, Dyson said.

Brig. Gen. Curt Rauhut, the director of resource management for Installation Management Command, went as far to say the service will have to ignore holes in roofs and have soldiers collect trash on post. Funding for sustainment, restoration and modernization of the Army’s installations will be reduced by $2 billion, he said.

“All sustainment will be limited to life, health and safety issues and we don’t actually have enough money to fund all life, health and safety issues,” Rauhut said.

Families on base will feel the effects of the cost saving measures. Rauhut offered a few examples.

Army leaders would have to reduce hours for child development centers on post and even consider closing them on certain days, he said. Sequestration would also mean the Army would have to “eliminate or severely reduce youth sports on our installations,” Rahaut said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno has explained to Congress for weeks that the sequestration cuts would mean he’d have to curtail training for nearly 80 percent of the service in order to save funds for units training to deploy to Afghanistan or in Korea.

Odierno had previously suggested that units deployed to Afghanistan might see their tours extended because of the lack of training funds. However, with the shrinking force footprint in Afghanistan, the Army should be able to bring currently deployed soldiers home as scheduled, Dyess said Wednesday.

“We have not made a decision on an extension for any units at this time so I think we should stick to our plan and bring those units back because really our footprint is shrinking,” he said.

However, Dyess and Dyson said the ultimate decision when Army units return from Afghanistan is made within theater.

Sequestration will affect when Army equipment in Afghanistan is returned to the U.S. If the budget cuts with sequestration stretch into 2014, the Army will be put in a bind. During the Iraq withdrawal, the Army saw expenses increase by $5 billion in the last quarter before the retrograde was complete, Dyson said.

Army officials expect a steeper challenge in leaving Afghanistan – a land locked country bordered by Iran and Pakistan. Dyson said the Army has already seen the projected cost of leaving Afghanistan sky rocket because the service has had to depend more on air transportation due to the challenge ground convoys have had crossing into Pakistan.

“We have to fly equipment in and out of theater and our second-destination charges for air transportation have been increasing far beyond what we had projected in the budget,” Dyson said.

Maj. Gen. Robert Dyess, the director of Army Force Development, confirmed that the sequestration cuts will likely delay the withdrawal of equipment and personnel from Afghanistan past the 2014 deadline set by President Obama. Gen. Dennis Via, head of Army Materiel Command, said the same thing on Feb. 20 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Winter Symposium.

Army modernization programs also stand to lose funding at a time when the Army is set to revolutionize its battlefield radios and vehicle fleet. Dyess said that rather than cancel programs because of cuts, most will be delayed.

Dyess and Dyson made sure to point out that every weapons program will have its budget slashed by 9 percent. Dyess listed mission command, aviation and Science and Technology as the Army’s three largest accounts that stand to lose the most.

“The [budget] reductions … define a fiscal outlook that is dire and as far as I know is unprecedented for our Army,” Dyson said.

'Sequester' used as excuse to blame Reps and release illegals

Editor’s Note – As the ‘sequester’ deadline approaches, the public is exposed to just how our government works – that is, if they are paying attention. The measly amount that is set to be cut is being blown out of proportion by the President – this by the man who was for the ‘sequester’ before he was against it, even though his administration invented this version.

He blames the House of Representatives for the lack of negotiation because the Republicans control that body, but at last look, they were the only ones ever doing anything as is demonstrated by Speaker Boehner’s remarks today. But that still has not prevented the President, through his DHS Secretary to release illegal immigrants from prison using the ‘sequester’ as the excuse. From Business Insider:

House Speaker John Boehner got a bit unplugged during his weekly press conference today, pointedly telling the Senate to “get off their ass and do something” to find a way to avert the sequester. Boehner pushed a familiar refrain during a nearly 10-minute press conference: The House has twice passed legislation to replace the sequester’s spending cuts. Now, the Senate must act. “We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something,” Boehner said.  “The House has done its job,” Boehner added.

The across-the-board cuts of the sequester are set to begin kicking in at the end of this week. Boehner and other Republicans are locked in a battle with President Barack Obama and Democrats over how to avert those cuts. Obama is set to take his message to Newport News, Va., today to warn about the cutsThe bills passed by the House expired with the end of last Congress. But Boehner said that wasn’t an excuse for the Senate. “It’s time for the Senate to act. We’ve acted,” Boehner said, in a pointed tone. He said that if the Senate acts, the House would be prepared to act “quickly.”

Remember, the ‘sequester’ only reduces the rate of growth on the non-existent budget that was ballooned by TARP and ‘stimulus packages’ – next up – the ‘continuing resolution’ in place of any budget. As the right is demagogued incessantly, and the ‘optics’ focus on them by the MSM, ‘we the people’ get poorer by the second.

Why is the Senate not held accountable? Four plus years – no budgets, wonderful leadership. Scared now?

Illegal immigrants set free from detention centers as sequester approaches

By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times

The sequester is officially still three days away, but the Obama administration already is making the first cuts, with officials confirming that the Homeland Security Department has begun to release what it deems low-priority illegal immigrants from detention.

The move is proving controversial. Immigrant-rights groups say it shows the administration was detaining folks it never should have gone after in the first place, while Republicans questioned the decision-making.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that runs the detention facilities, said in a statement that the “current fiscal climate” has forced it to do a review of spending, and part of that is taking a look at who is being detained.

“As a result of this review, a number of detained aliens have been released around the country and placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release,” ICE said in a statement.

While being released from detention, the illegal immigrants are usually still subject to supervision — either by electronic device or by being required to check in with ICE by phone or in person.

The move first was reported by The Huffington Post on Monday.

The sequesters are $85 billion in spending cuts this year, followed by equivalent cuts for the rest of this decade. They were set in motion by the 2011 debt deal and will require across-the-board cuts to all government spending save for entitlements such as Social Security.

The cuts take effect on Friday, and all sides on Capitol Hill say they want to avert them — though they cannot agree on how to do so.

The Obama administration, which wants to see the cuts replaced in large part by new tax increases, has warned that the sequesters will hurt national security.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday told reporters at the White House that she would be forced to furlough Border Patrol agents, pulling them from their rounds along the U.S.-Mexico border.

She also hinted at the decision to release illegal immigrants, saying she would not be able to maintain the full slate of 34,000 detention beds mandated by Congress.

“How am I supposed to pay for those? There’s only so much I can do,” she said.

United We Dream, an immigrant-rights group, said the releases show the administration has been keeping folks detained who never should have been there.

“Low-priority individuals — people who pose absolutely no risk or danger to society, but rather are upstanding members of their communities and families — should not have been locked up to begin with,” said Carolina Canizales, coordinator of United We Dream’s End Our Pain program.

'Obamaquester' – What it really entails and who thought it up

By Denise Simon – The ‘sequester’ is close to implementation and we may see exactly what happens when political wrangling trumps our security. The President blames the Republicans in the House of Representatives, but it was Obama and Jack Lew who came up with the idea of ‘sequestration’. He can deny it, or obfuscate, or change the focus, but it was done as a political ploy first and foremost.

FactCheck.com tries to sell that it was an agreement by the House, Senate and the President, but it was all done as ploy. The ploy had America’s back to the wall and they know it – it was a pressure tactic that was agreed upon to force Obama to lead in spending cuts, which have not happened.

The White House and its sycophants, apologists, and surrogates want America to believe its the Tea Party and and the entrenched Republicans who are causing the harm. That however is far from the truth. Harry Reid and Jack Lew made it happen at the behest of the Obama team and it was clearly part of reelection efforts.

John Boehner, speaking with Hugh Hewitt lays it out clearly (Read the whole interview here.):

The clock is closer than in the picture, but March 1 is almost upon us.

Having first proposed and demanded the sequester, it would make sense that the president lead the effort to replace it. Unfortunately, he has put forth no detailed plan that can pass Congress, and the Senate—controlled by his Democratic allies—hasn’t even voted on a solution, let alone passed one. By contrast, House Republicans have twice passed plans to replace the sequester with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect national security.

The press is only recently understanding the machinations of the Obama team, albeit, four years late, but we can still hope that America will finally see that the king has no clothes on after all. Meanwhile, upon any level of inspection, Obama is clearly striving to destroy our military, and is scaring people by saying cuts will be severe.

Mark Levin lays out the argument here. This audio by Levin is a must listen piece on waste and big government and why Obama is lying to us. There have been almost zero cuts, yet Obama claims so much has already been done – its all lies.

Much has been mentioned in the last 18 months regarding the far and wide devastation of ‘Sequestration’.

A Super Committee was created to work through the process to avoid Sequestration but that measure also failed. The White House and the lobby groups have been on a loud and vocal quest to blame Republicans and the House of Representatives for what looms as Sequestration takes affect on March 1, 2013. The House has worked diligently to pass laws that stop the devastating cuts, most especially cuts in defense, while none of the measure by the House have been provided attention or vote by the Senate.

Lets take a look at what Sequester impacts on both sides. This is not a complete list and the depth of the cuts are not explained as that can be determined by a review of the associated links here and here.

What gets cut:

TSA, FDA food inspectors ,Head-Start, Defense, Parks Service, National Guard, Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Secret Service, FEMA, Air Federal Marshalls, FAA, Special Education Teachers, Center for Disease Control, NASA, Security and Exchange Commission, Foreign aid with particular emphasis on Israel and Mexico (130 countries affected), and among others, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (nuclear weapons)

What is exempt:

Social Security, Railroad employees retirement, Veteran’s Administration benefits, Unemployment, Tribal and Indian Trust Accounts, Child nutrition, Children’s Heath Insurance, Pell Grants, Medicaid, SNAP, food stamps, Highway Safety Grants, Motor Carrier Safety Operations, Federal pay, Child Support Enforcement, FDIC, Farm Credits, and among others, the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In a snapshot assessment of what stays and what goes, it is clear that programs related to National Security and Foreign Affairs are set to feel the the brunt in ‘Sequester’ while domestic programs geared to funding the indigent remain. In short, the dangerous world will be even more dangerous and education and healthcare remains protected. We have yet to understand the large numbers of those that will be unemployed and what our enemies will take advantage of regarding our homeland. But here is one area that will be effected immediately:

Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilians

By Jeremy Herb – The Hill

The Pentagon notified Congress on Wednesday it will be furloughing its civilian workforce of 800,000 employees if sequestration goes into effect March 1.

Defense officials have warned lawmakers that sequestration will devastate the military and lead to a hollow force, but the civilian furloughs will be one of the first major impacts felt by the across-the-board cuts.

The Pentagon furloughs will affect civilians across the country. Pentagon officials have said that civilians could face up to 22 days of furloughs, one per week, through the end of the fiscal year in September. The employees would receive 30 days notice before being furloughed.

“We are doing everything possible to limit the worst effects on DOD personnel — but I regret that our flexibility within the law is extremely limited,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote in a message to the department. “The president has used his legal authority to exempt military personnel funding from sequestration, but we have no legal authority to exempt civilian personnel funding from reductions.”

The Joint Chiefs also testified before both the House and Senate last week to lay out the dangers of sequestration, as the Pentagon has taken a much more proactive approach to the cuts than when they were set to hit in January.

The potential for furloughs was one of the few things DOD officials announced before the Jan. 2 deadline, which was delayed two months in the “fiscal-cliff” deal.

President Obama on Tuesday spoke to first responders who he also warned could be furloughed due to sequestration. He urged Republicans to compromise and stop the cuts.

Obama will be on the road again next week with campaign-style events arguing that Republicans are at fault for the cuts, while the GOP blames the White House for the sequester.

“Republicans in Congress face a simple choice,” the president said Tuesday. “Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and healthcare and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations?”

But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in response to the Pentagon furloughs that Obama has yet to put forward a plan to stop the across-the-board cuts, while the House has passed an alternative.

“I agree with the secretary of Defense that the impact of the president’s sequester would be devastating to our military,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s why the House has acted twice to replace the president’s sequester with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national security, and it’s why I’ve been calling on the president for more than a year to press his Democratic-controlled Senate to do the same.”

The back-and-forth is part of a blame game between the White House and congressional Republicans as the cuts are less than two weeks out, with no apparent movement to stop them before March 1.

Preparations for cuts from sequestration and the department’s budget uncertainty are continuing in the defense industry.

BAE Systems notified 3,600 employees Tuesday that they could be laid off over a loss of work from the Navy, due primarily to the Pentagon facing a continuing resolution.

Bill Clifford, president of BAE Systems Ship Repair, told Ship Repair employees that the notifications under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act were going out to employees at four BAE locations in Norfolk, Va., Mayport, Fla., San Diego, Calif., and Hawaii.

“We do not take these decisions lightly, and we regret the anxiety it causes our employees and their families. I also recognize this news is unsettling, but rest assured we are working closely with our Navy customer and members of Congress to mitigate the impact of these proposed reductions,” Clifford wrote.

The WARN Act notices were a major political fight between Congress and the Obama administration during the 2012 campaign. After defense contractors threatened sending out mass notices before sequestration, the administration told contractors not to issue them 60 days before the cuts took effect — and also took the step of promising to cover layoff costs if contractors had to immediately fire workers.

In this case, BAE appears to be issuing the notices with enough time that it will follow the WARN law and not incur extra costs.