Will the Sequester Cause the End Times?

When Congress heads out on summer vacation and the typically-frenetic news cycle is barely chugging along, it's hard to keep tabs on some of the biggest political issues, like immigration, health care, and the environment. With so few new developments, can you blame us? It's especially difficult with the sequester, which was flying under the radar even before our representatives went on break. The $1 trillion automatic spending cuts, which began on March 1, have slowly chipped away at government programs in ways that may seem invisible to many people. But peel back the conventional wisdom curtain shrouding the Beltway, and the sequester doesn't quite deserve the "Mission Accomplished" banner The Wall Street Journal gave it yesterday. Sure, many governmental agencies have been able to reduce the number of furlough days for their employees, but local news outlets continue to carry distressing stories about the costs of slashed budgets on a weekly basis. Fifty-six children are being transitioned out of Head Start programs in Lincoln, Nebraska. Gulf states are losing over $30 million worth of coastal restoration and economic funding to help the region wounded by the BP oil spill. The National Science Foundation will give out about 1,000 fewer research grants, and is suspending some new initiatives. In this year alone, the National Institute of Health needs to cut $1.7 billion from its budget. As one researcher who fears his money will run out soon put it, "We are in deep shit."

The latest program to face the sequester hatchet? The Air Force's Space Surveillance System; the next best thing America has besides Will Smith and Bill Pullman when it comes to staving off alien invasion. Maybe when Congress returns to D.C., refreshed from weeks of town hall meetings with constituents, it'll be ready to stop the sequester in the name of saving planet Earth, since saving the country's poorest residents, or future scientific innovations haven't been causes quite noble enough. 

 

SO THEY SAY

“This is a definite break from what I would consider normal behavior for North Carolina. The whole political system nowadays is becoming more extreme.”

David French, a 27-year-old North Carolina resident

 

DAILY MEME: ALL THE NEWS THAT'S HILLZ ENOUGH TO PRINT

  • Hillary Clinton is the royal baby of politics right now. Everywhere you turn, there's a gif, a slideshow, analysis, a tweet, a chart, a poll, a something, about the presumed 2016 candidate. 
  • Why? "She’s everywhere these days because: (a) It’s August; (b) reporters are bored with President Obama; (c) reporters are bored with Joe Biden; (d) Clintons are never boring."
  • So ... I guess we're sorry for joining the Clintoning throngs, but it's August, ya know, and The New York Times (which had a great story on the Clinton Initiative today) is down.
  • And, as Alex Pareene noted in April, there are "a series of clichéd caveats you have to get through when you write about this stuff: 2016 is a long ways away. Making predictions is an invitation to mockery in a few years’ time. At this point in 2006, the 2008 election was supposedly going to pit Mark Warner against George Allen."
  • Reporters hungry to find a frame for the New York City mayoral race outside of Manhattan have been eager to make the Hillary connection. 
  • Repeatedly
  • The Virginia gubernatorial race is also only three degrees from the former secretary of state.
  • But we must not simply connect the dots from current campaigns to campaigns yet to come. We must comment on those who quibble over these yet-nonexistent campaigns by saying that the nonexistent campaigns have no message. 
  • And then you have to write about the people who hated Clinton in 2008, but think she's just the greatest now (it's amazing the magic a Tumblr can conjure).
  • And then you have to write the stories about all the people who aren't Hillary Clinton and are interested in running, for some reason.
  • Why do we do this to ourselves? Well, as one insider put it, "Brilliant people get away with a lot in Clinton world." And apparently we all live there now. 

 

WHAT WE'RE WRITING

  • Activists launched a campaign against Teach for America in July, but James Cersonsky writes that the organization isn’t about to back down.
  • Israel has bolstered its building efforts in the West Bank just in time for Israel-Palestine peace talks. Matt Duss notes that this could cast a dark cloud over the negotiations.

 

WHAT WE'RE READING

  • A concealed-carry law is causing trouble in Mississippi. 
  • Molly Ball recounts the changing relationship between religion and America's gay community.
  • John Lewis remembers the March on Washington with Stephen Colbert.
  • Pennsylvania residents are petitioning the EPA to investigate fracking's effects on water in the state.
  • The New York Times takes a deep dive into the inner workings of the Clinton Initiative.
  • Glenn Beck is raging against a poem recited by North Carolina students praising Common Core. 
  • Egyptian Security forces stormed Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations, killing at least 13 people.With President Obama set to make a decision regarding the Keystone Pipeline, both supporters and detractors are beginning a vigorous campaign.
  • Israel and Palestine are set to resume peace talks today.
  • Could't get enough of Trump the last go around? Not to worry. He's back.

POLL OF THE DAY 

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer continues to dominate the race for New York City Comptroller, according to new poll results released by Quinnipiac University. The favorite is ahead of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer by 19 points, and has a double-digit lead among men, women, white, and black voters. Black voters have come out especially in favor of Spitzer, and are polling at 68-21 percent in his favor. 

Prospect interns Colin Daileda and Eric Garcia helped provide links for today's Ringside.

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