Sequester cuts really D.C.'s self-made pit

President Barack Obama talks at a White House President Barack Obama talks at a White House press conference following a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner and congressional leaders that failed to yield a last-minute deal to avoid $85 billion in automatic federal budget cuts. (March 1, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and

Jedi mind trick, Vulcan mind meld: An exasperated Barack Obama was obviously smushing his "Star Wars" and his "Star Trek" together when he complained that no "Jedi mind meld" could persuade congressional Republicans to end the budget sequester.

Still, the president's point was clear enough. Washington may be an otherworldly place these days, but that hasn't produced any advanced capacity for Republicans and Democrats to see things similarly. It was like they were all stuck together in a deep, dark hole.

And look: Just as Washington was oozing into the muck of billions of dollars in automatic, across-the-board federal budget cuts, some poor man in Florida was being swallowed up by a 20-foot sinkhole that ate his entire bedroom, furniture and all. Jeremy Bush tried desperately to save his 37-year-old brother Jeffrey. But with the ground so unstable, all the rescue attempts were in vain.

We've been standing at the edge of so many self-dug pits in Washington, it's hard to take any one of them too seriously. The results this time, though potentially dire, will arrive gradually. Threats of national pain aren't enough anymore to get Congress and the White House really talking. The actual pain has to be felt.

In Seffner, Fla., outside Tampa, county sheriff's deputies rushed to the scene the instant an alarm was sounded. They were able to save Jeremy Bush at least.

Sadly, there are no first responders for Washington's emergencies. Even a half a success is hard to imagine. Last seen, the nation's economy was frantically waving its arms and desperately gasping for air.

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WHAT TIME NEXT?

1. Fiscal Recovery Time

2. New Pope Time

3. Gay Marriage Time

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4. No More Snow Time

5. Daylight Saving Time

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Nice to hear that superstorm Sandy has now brought cleaner water to battered Fire Island -- so was the battering part worth it? . . . Will a Great Wall of Montauk protect the hotel district from the next big storm -- or just kill the killer water views? . . . What keeps calling Mageries to fire? Casey Magerie, a Farmingdale State College freshman, just became the fourth-generation family member to join the Halesite Fire Department, going back to great-grandpa Peter in 1954 . . . After Thursday's panel on money and politics, will the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset manage to chase the money out of politics (a) entirely (b) somewhat or (c) not at all? Anyone betting (a)? . . . Did someone just say "potential midweek storm?" I didn't think so . . . Does Peter King's Marco Rubio slam -- "we screwed you, now make us president" -- apply only to the ambitious Florida Republican or to all 2016 Republican hopefuls who opposed Sandy aid? . . . Is there any limit to how many times Wall Street's Lazard Ltd. can publicize (1988) and privatize (2013) electric power on Long Island? See 'em again in 2038? . . . Once he picked up the nickname, could any defense save accused "Cannibal Cop" Gilberto Valle? . . . Which one's "pathetic?" Which one's "offensive" and "immature?" Are you having as much trouble as I am following all the insults between Suffolk Republican boss John LaValle and Republican Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio? Doesn't anyone remember Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment?

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: THE CUT-EES

They're just numbers on a spreadsheet in Washington -- until the cuts come crashing into real peoples' lives. That's always the way it is with budget slashing. There's a reason the money was there. There is pain that it no longer is. In the sequester, it'll be Sandy aid and national parks. It'll be transit security and education funds. It'll be fire and police training and air-traffic control -- oh, the list goes on and on and on. Someone will be the brunt of this sequester. That someone is always us.

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Email ellis@henican.com
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