Last Friday, Mar. 1, our country’s system of government became the butt of all jokes when the powers that be in Washington failed to stop an automatic series of across-the-board spending cuts known as “sequestration”—damned by both Republicans and Democrats—from being enacted.
How is it possible that so many supposedly intelligent men and women elected to represent us can concoct a plan that most everyone seems to think will be disastrous to our economy, then fail to find a way out from under it?
Billions of dollars are being cut from the budget, including $42.7 billion in discretionary defense spending, $28.7 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts, $9.9 billion in Medicare cuts, and $4 billlion in other miscellaneous cuts.
Not even aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy was left untouched by sequestration. To kick the victims while they’re down, the federal government is taking away $800 million from New York City to help seaside areas rebuild and recover.
American taxpayers are owed a great many explanations for the colossal ineptitude demonstrated by lawmakers over the past 12 years which has seen exorbinant spending, a massive deficit and an inability by those in charge to demonstrate self-control.
It’s not as if taxpayers don’t already have skin in the game. According to the Tax Policy Center, income, payroll, corporate and estate taxes are the highest they have been since 1979.
The top one percent of households averaging $1.4 million annually pay nearly 36 percent of their monthly income in federal taxes. The middle 20 percent of households making $46,000 a year on average pay about 13.8 percent of their income and meanwhile, families in the bottom 20 percent of households won’t pay any federal taxes.
So where’s the money going? Even as these cuts are taking place, the newly-appointed Secretary of State John Kerry announced that this country will give $250 milliion in aid to Egypt. This is the first part of the $1 billion that was pledged by President Obama in 2011 to support Egypt’s democratic revolution.
However, the word “democratic” is kind of a shaky intrepretation since the country is now run someone who is not only just as oppressive as his predecessor, but also supported by Islamic extremists. It would seem that the $1 billion would be better spent in this country.
Billions of dollars were sent in aid to Haiti following the massive earthquake that struck the nation in 2010, but according to many reports, much of that money has simply vanished. Our funds never got to the victims who really needed it.
Then, of course, there’s the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have cost up to $4 TRILLION and counting.
This year, the federal government plans to take in over $2.9 trillion in assorted taxes. The average taxpayer has to work until Apr. 12 to pay for all the taxes taken from their paycheck.
Of course, one thing that was not cut from the budget through sequestration was the salaries, pensions and benefits of the president and members of Congress. Meanwhile, it is estimated that thousands of low-level federal employees will soon be sent to apply for unemployment benefits—which, by the way, were also slashed under sequestration.
Abraham Lincoln must be weeping. His ideal of government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has perished in spirit. Our elected officials should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this wretched scheme to come to pass.