Have you heard enough about the “sequester?” We see it in print every morning on the front page of our Daily Republic and hear about it all day on the radio and every evening on the news: sequester, sequester, sequester.
Over the past couple weeks, President Barack Obama has repeatedly explained how the sequester cuts will harm us, trying in vain to goad the obstructionist Republicans in Congress to take action. Being a military town, the biggest effect to Fairfield could be mandatory furlough days for the civilian work force at Travis Air Force Base. Those pay cuts, of course, would then ripple out through everyone else’s economies.
While our president has been pressing for intelligent, surgical incisions to make our budget look a little better, a touch of liposuction and a bit of nip and tuck, Congress, because of its inaction, is hacking fingers with machetes.
Our nation’s economy suffered a serious injury, but we are on the mend. Wall Street’s banking crimes are still being felt by a great many Americans yet struggling. The government’s bank bailout billions have never trickled down, but have predictably stayed at the top, pocketed by those who profited most from our misery.
The economies of Fairfield, the state of California and the United States are being slowly rebuilt the only way they can, from the bottom up. We have passed through treacherous times and with our economy still weakened, this may prove to be a bad time to cut federal spending. Hopefully these budget cuts won’t sucker-punch our fragile economy, as similar austerity programs have done in Europe.
Surprisingly, even though Congress still seems incapable of doing anything productive, its approval rating has skyrocketed from 10 percent last year before the election, to 15 percent now, according to the latest Gallup poll. That may be because there are fewer tea partiers in Congress impressing us with their expertise on “legitimate rape” and “lady parts” but, as this automatic budget cuts standoff shows, they’ve got plenty of room for improvement.
Your Daily Republic printed a letter to the editor last week that began: “President Barack Obama and other government liberals should be required to join Spenders Anonymous, a 12-step program (similar to AA) for people emotionally driven to recklessly and blatantly spend money.” The letter degenerated further from there, continuing down a predictable path of Fox News disinformation and slogans.
We reviewed President Obama’s spending last year in this Daily Republic column, but let’s revisit that today because some people find facts a bit too awkward to grasp and hold.
The last budget of Republican President George W. Bush was for federal fiscal year 2009, which ran from Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009. That year, the federal government spent $3.52 trillion. President Obama’s spending is as follows: Fiscal year 2010, $3.46 trillion; 2011, $3.6 trillion; 2012, $3.54 trillion; and the Congressional Budget Office projects spending for fiscal 2013 will be $3.55 trillion.
After four years in office, President Obama has increased federal spending less than 1 percent. For comparison, Republican President George H.W. Bush increased federal spending by 23 percent during his four years and Republican Gerald Ford did the same in just three. Republican Ronald Reagan increased federal spending by 69 percent over eight years, but the real winner is Republican prodigy George W. Bush, who increased federal spending by 89 percent.
If fact-challenged extremist right-wingers insist on calling President Obama’s strict, flat-line budgets “reckless” or “out of control,” we’ll need to invent some brand-new hyperboles to describe the Republicans’ drunken-sailor spending behavior. Creative suggestions should be posted on the Daily Republic website.
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.