COMMENTARY | It's become a comically regular occurrence for members of both the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government to make dire predictions of catastrophic shutdowns every time significant cuts to the federal budget are mentioned.
The most recent of these cuts (and one of the few to actually get through the legislative process) is the by now well-known sequestration measure.
It has been mentioned more than once that the sequester was "devised as a deterrent so unpalatable that Capitol Hill's warring factions would be forced to make peace." This by itself is laughable. So unpalatable that the liberals and conservatives would be forced to make peace? Even when taking into account that some programs are exempt, making the percentage cut from the targeted budgets somewhat higher, the amount cut from the total budget is pennies compared to what needs to be cut to balance the budget.
Forget a balanced budget in 2013; that ship has sailed. Consider what the budget will look like in 10 years if the sequester cuts manage to stay in effect. Current budget projections estimate that the sequester will manage to take only 2.4 percent off the total budget in 2023, according to the Heritage Foundation. In other words, over 10 years, the federal deficit (not to even consider the total overall federal debt) will only be 12 percent less with these cuts than it would be without. These cuts are so minuscule that the deficit will still be greater by 2023 than it is now.
In 2012, the U.S. total federal debt surpassed its total GDP, and as long as the government continues to run a deficit, that trend will continue. While there are certainly pains associated with large budget cuts, it is inevitable that some sacrifices will have to be made in order to reign in this country's out-of-control spending practices.
For those who say these cuts are unsustainable, I respond by pointing out that neither is having a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 100 percent. For those who say it's a step in the right direction, I say it's not even that. The deficit in 2023 will still be greater than it is now, even if the sequester cuts manage to stay in place. Sure, these cuts are better than none, but they're really just a fraction of a drop in the bucket.
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