The sequestration deadline has come and gone, yet nothing much seems to have changed. There are extended lines at airport security — but that's been the case since 9/11. The White House tour guides were laid off — but that was an obviously political gesture.
From the looks of it Sequestration was only the latest item on a growing list of DC failures that ended up being wildly over-hyped. The debt ceiling debate, and the resulting debt downgrade amounted to nothing. The fiscal cliff was settled largely by shuffling around some deadlines and making one slap-dash agreement. The only thing that really seems to have happened as a result of policy changes is job growth moving from the public to private sector (which is a good thing anyway). The ability of policy makers to convince Americans the sky is falling has all but disappeared.
Ben Stein, former Nixon speechwriter, economist and FTC lawyer, warns against complacency. Stein notes that government spending amounts to around 25% of GDP. "If it changes a lot, it matters a lot. A lot of people will be unemployed, there will be a lot less or more demand, it matters a lot if something that size is affected," Stein says. "Government is such a large factor that any kind of movement in government spending is of some significance."
While every nip here or cut there may not mean much in and of itself, but collectively these policy tweaks change the bedrock of American life. The consequences of of the forced cuts from Sequestration and other failures from both sides of the political aisle may not be felt for quite some time but will eventually result in potentially chilling places.
Military is being used as one source of cuts that can't be assessed in real time. "We will not know if anything matters on the defense cuts until it's too late," Stein warns. "We're going to find out if there's a war, if North Korea invades South Korea, if Iran tries to do some sort of strange attack on Saudi Arabia, if the whole Middle East collapses, if Al Qaeda... Will we have the resources to protect our interests? That's going to be the real test."
Assuming our military hasn't been compromised to the point that America can no longer project its power around the world Stein says the Right won the latest round of the two controlling parties in DC. "In a way, it's all been a ringing endorsement of the Republican party," Stein argues. The Republicans were the group supposedly putting the country in danger by refusing to buckle in order to avoid Sequestration. At least for now it seems they were right.
- Politics & Government