William F. B. O'Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.
The world couldn't possibly have ended last December when their calendar ran out, because all thinking people understand that March 1, 2013 is the actual date of Armageddon. That's when the "Sequester" asteroid hits Washington.
That's the day when $85 billion in discretionary cuts will be forced down the throats of our nation's leaders like castor oil into screaming, kicking 5-year-olds. The result will be life altering, if you to listen to some.
"God forbid it has to take effect for a few days," gasped Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on National Public Radio. "The devastating effects will be so strong -- the president will be there on his bully pulpit -- that I believe that just like on the fiscal cliff, Republicans will come on board. They have no choice."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) envisions a Red Dawn scenario: Defense cuts would "literally -- literally -- prevent the United States from defending itself," he predicted late last year. (Don't worry, senator; the NRA has a backup plan.)
His Senate sidekick, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) equates modest military cuts to national suicide: "It would be, in the words of Leon Panetta, a brigade without bullets, a Navy without ships, an Air Force without trained pilots. It would be like shooting yourself in the head. It would be the most destructive thing in the world."
"In the world!"
The New York Times editorial board piled on this weekend, in a piece entitled, "The Real Cost of Shrinking Government," even though government in the United States hasn't shrunk year over year in more than 50 years.
The indiscriminate $85 billion sequester, according to The Times, would cut 2,100 food inspections; furlough 4,000 workers at the Federal Aviation Authority; end Head Start for 70,000 children; eliminate 14,000 teachers and school employees; put 125,000 families "at risk" of homelessness; end treatment for 373,000 "seriously mentally ill" adults and emotionally disturbed children; and 600,000 women and children could lose nutrition aid. And 25 ships and 470 aircraft could forgo maintenance in this new chaotic world, The Times warns. And the list goes on...
Who knew $85 billion was so much money?
It didn't seem like it when the folks in D.C. were borrowing well over a trillion dollars in each of the past four budget cycles. This year, they'll borrow just $845 billion for our $3.6 trillion budget -- over 10 times the amount of the sequester cuts -- and call that "austerity."
Daniel Webster must be turning in his grave.
These cuts are coming out of "discretionary" programs because no one has the courage to do what is necessary to restructure the "non-discretionary" programs -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and federal pensions -- where the real structural problems exist in our spending.
The howls coming out of Washington, editorial boards, and the special interest machine would be laughable if they weren't so exasperating.
Americans are being played for fools.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant.