What is Sequestration?

By Robbin Laird

One of the great things about life Inside the Beltway is how language is constantly re-invented.

In the old days, before the Internet, say in the 18th Century, you would pull out script and pen and work through drafts or your document and then print them in a paper or read them in an Assembly and the words would be debated.

Today with instant access to the global word system – word globalization – you can use a word any way you want or invent new words and do not have to worry about any real debate about the word and its meaning.

You just assert and use the word.

And then you debate yourself or. even better, talk past whomever you don’t like or, put in other terms, your COMPETITORS.  Your SUPPORTERS will form a website celebrating the common FELT position, because actually debating with someone you disagree with is not really necessary in a NETOCRACY.

It is a circular Rabbit Hole to use the Alice in Wonderland baseline.

A good example of this is the appearance of the word Sequestration.  When I was younger, if someone used this word, they were probably a lawyer or a bill collector.

Originally a legal term referring generally to the act of valuable property being taken into custody by an agent of the court and locked away for safekeeping, usually to prevent the property from being disposed of or abused before a dispute over its ownership can be resolved.


But now this word now has a much more significant meaning along the lines that the Congress and the Administration could not agree on how to deal with spending cuts so a process was put in motion which will lead to Draconian cuts with no one in control.

“This is a perfect metaphor for today’s Washington,” opined Boomer.  “If no one is in charge, then you can blame the other guy, or the other party for the Draconian cuts which an automatic process would create. You can pull a McCain and claim you are hopping mad or an Obama and talk about the old ways of Washington which subvert the will of the people.”

Let us go back in time to the post-Revolution period in the United States and visit the Founding Fathers.

Hamilton: “We need to do something about the financial disaster of the Articles of Confederation.  The country needs a sound system of financial management and responsibility.  If we are weak economically, foreign powers will be able to undercut our independence and put us into servitude.

Adam Smith: “You are right, and you could call the new document the Articles of Sequestration.  You could come up with a system, which manages itself in perpetuity without human intervention.  The hidden hand of Sequestration would lead to a continual process of cuts and rebalancing without the need for political debate or any need whatsever to make choices.”

Washington, Jefferson and the others listened to this and worked behind the scenes to replace the Articles of Confederation with the Articles of Sequestration.  And who can ever forget those marvelous essays in The Sequestration Papers.  It makes one swell with pride.

But Boomer did not find this funny.  “I have worked as a guard for many years keeping my eyes over the sacred documents of the founding fathers, and don’t think they would find the current situation all that funny.”

I felt Boomer was being a bit harsh and too serious.  But Boomer: With a new concept – Sequestration – a whole new priesthood of interpreters of the meaning of the word can come to the fore and sage bodies of Wordtankers can discuss the problem for months if not years.

Isn’t this an important stimulus to the economy and one which the Chinese can not control directly?

To make my case to Boomer, I read to him this bromide from Bloomberg:

Under the Budget Control Act passed by Congress in August 2011, automatic spending cuts will go into effect in January 2013 under a process called sequestration.  But the law does not provide specifics on how those cuts are to be implemented.  Bloomberg Government Defense Analyst Kevin Brancato dives into this subject, and the direct impact on Defense Department programs, on Federal News Radio.

One interpretation of the law would be to cut every single program by the same amount, roughly 13 percent. The other interpretation of the act is that overall spending would need to be reduced by 13 percent but the Pentagon could pick and choose the programs to cut, stated Kevin Brancato, on The Federal Drive show with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

Cutting every single program by the same amount presents an inherent difficulty for the Department of Defense, according to Brancato.  Across-the-board cuts would be extremely complicated to implement since every contract and weapons program would have to be canceled, modified or renegotiated, a timely and expensive process, especially in the middle of a fiscal year.  But how the government and the Department of Defense are planning to implement the cuts is not clear.

In the end, “The President, Congress, military leaders, industry — nobody wants sequestration,” Brancato said. “They just haven’t agreed on a way to avoid it.” In all likelihood, however, a resolution to avoid sequestration will not occur before the election.

Boomer: “This is a sad day when American leaders can’t even address priorities, choices or financial realities.  I think the Founding Fathers are turning over in their graves. Sequestration really means, punt the decisions and let the next crowd make choices that we can’t make.  Oops many of these folks will be back for the next Congress. I guess then those folks will be Sequestered or something like this. ”








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