Ringside Seat: This Is Your Government on Sequester

Today is the first day of the rest of your sequester, and the cuts are already coming—undocumented immigrants released from detention, furloughs on military bases, agencies scrambling to determine whom they won't be serving and what they won't be doing. The optimistic take on all this is that in a country where people regularly shout at their members of Congress, "Tell the government to keep its hands off my Medicare!", this could be an education. Start cutting back government services, and citizens will come to an understanding of some of the good things government does for them. Then that in turn will make the next crisis less likely, since the public won't stand for it.

But how much reason is there for optimism? We've been through government shutdowns before, after all, and we've had our debt-ceiling crises, and none of that seems to have helped. Not only that, this is just the first in a trio of crises: At the end of the month, the continuing resolution under which the federal government is operating runs out; if Congress doesn't pass another one, the government will shut down completely. Then in May we get to have another debt-ceiling standoff. "The greatest nation on Earth," Barack Obama said during his recent State of the Union address, "cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next." To which Republicans replied, "Oh yeah? Well watch this."

Perhaps this will all get resolved in short order. Some kind of deal will be worked out, and we'll be able to get back to our ordinary level of bitterness and recrimination. At this point, it'd be a blessing.


So They Say

"We were on a roller coaster, exciting and thrilling, ups and downs. But the ride ends. And then you get off. And it's not like, oh, can't we be on a roller coaster the rest of our life? It's like, no, the ride's over."

Mitt Romney, purveyor of the saddest quotes ever

Daily Meme: Sadquester

  • The sequester was never meant to actually take effect. It's so unsavory that no one thought Congress would actually let it happen. We seem to forget this is Congress we're talking about. 
  • As Paul Waldman says, there's an easy way to fix this. There are also many ways not to address the sequester, which are proliferating at Ebola-like speed today.
  • Like Jedi mindmelds. Which DON'T EVEN EXIST, Mr. President.
  • Not that the White House isn't going to keep trying to make it a thing.
  • Cutting robosquirrels from the budget won't save us, either.
  • Everyone thinking like Charles Krauthammer definitely won't make it all go away.
  • Philosophic ideals will just make this whole mess worse
  • It's too late to start a gang.
  • The 12 percent of people in America who think Congress is great don't make sense, and won't compel anyone to stop the sequester.
  • Taylor Swift breaking up with Congress and then writing a song about it is just depressing.
  • Making extremely accurate and sad jokes about the whole mess won't save us. Sigh. See everyone next crisis. 

What We're Writing

  • Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, which forces certain states and parts of others to pre-clear changes to election law with the Department of Justice went before the Supreme Court this week. Brentin Mock fights for the (sadly unlikely) continuity of the status quo.
  • We're Kalima-ing at the austerity altar that's ripped the heart out of the European economy and for no reason. Our deficit's already dropping, our economy's trending up, things are looking good. Why are we doing well? Mike Konczal explains that we built Keynesianism into our economics, hands free.

What We're Reading

  • Bloomberg Businessweek profiles America's official "bummer-outter" on the environment, Bill McKibben.
  • Moneyball is hitting the battlefield.
  • Amy Davidson asks, is Justice Scalia afraid of black voters?
  • Indignation, resignation, sequestration. It's here, it's not going away, and we suppose there's no good reason not to know what it is, at least. So read the piece, find your congressman and start engaging in some defenestration. 
  • Lanny Breuer's made an end of his term as the Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ's Criminal Division, at which he prosecuted exactly zero big bankers for the destruction of the world economy. But, he says, he looked into it.
  • The British have started a novel new collab with the U.S. government. Whitehall strips U.K. terror suspects of their British citizenship, at which point they're fair game for American assassination by drone. Maybe we can start doing tradesies soon.
  • Mexico City may be at the forefront of citizen activism. Fed up with an unresponsive government, average Mexicans have taken to the street to combat the high pedestrian mortality rate ... by becoming traffic-fighting luchador superheroes. Happy Friday, folks.

Poll of the Day

A Reason-Rupe poll out today shows that 57 percent of Americans believe the president's drone killings of American citizens are unconstitutional. Thirty-one percent found themselves on the wrong side of logic (or are just their authoritarian bona fides in early) and staked out a claim on the constitutionality of extrajudicial murder. Fifty-nine percent have said they are concerned that "the government may abuse its power" regarding drones, a lucid assessment, seeing as killing an American citizen is an abuse of power.

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