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The way forward: off another cliff

Our national political leaders said this day would never come.

Arbitrary, across-the-board cuts to the federal budget - defense programs, transportation projects, aid to the poor - would be just too damaging to national security, to the economy, to our ability to get around and take care of our most vulnerable. Even a Congress as divided as this one wouldn't let that happen.

Despite the passing of Friday's deadline to avoid the cuts, the sky did not fall. The impact of this incompetence will take time to arrive.

When skeptics suggest that sequestration - $84.5 billion in short-term cuts, $1.2 trillion over 10 years - is much ado about nothing, they dismiss layoff notices already sent to employees of defense contractors in Hampton Roads. They ignore the ripple effect of small businesses without customers, families without income, homes on the market or in foreclosure. They ignore the economic uncertainty that hurts everyone.

As Thomas E. Mann, a Brookings Institution senior fellow, and Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in The Washington Post: "Planning, recruiting personnel and drafting long-term contracts have become impossible in areas from cybersecurity to embassy security to medical research to homeland security, damaging not industries rife with waste, fraud and abuse but critical services."

On Friday, as House Speaker John Boehner once again rejected revenue increases to ward off cuts, Old Dominion University's Economic Forecasting Project estimated that Hampton Roads would lose 12,237 jobs. Researchers estimate that the gross regional product will decline 0.67 percent.

Sequestration, they said, would cost the region more than $2 billion in spending.

That's sobering news given the reports from December and January on nationwide consumer spending. As Bloomberg reported, "Disposable income, or the money left over after taxes, dropped 4 percent after adjusting for inflation, the biggest plunge since monthly records began in 1959. The drop also reflected the lapse of the payroll tax holiday."

Coupled with sequestration in this precarious economy is another looming budget impasse: The stopgap spending bill, which has kept the federal government operating despite Congress' inability to pass a budget, is set to expire March 27. If Republicans and Democrats can't agree on how to fund the federal government for the next six months - an unlikely feat at this point - the government could shut down.

Washington, it hardly need be said, doesn't agree on a way forward. Conservative Republicans are already saying that they will not go along with Boehner's plan to pass another temporary budget unless money to pay for the Affordable Care Act is taken out. The president and Democrats won't agree to that.

Positions are hardening. The economy is already under threat. And despite going over the latest fiscal cliff on its way to the next one, Washington hasn't moved an inch.

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Just remember, ya'll voted for this way Forward!

Now sit back and enjoy the show.

We are not broke, Revenue is 15.8 percent of GDP,

the lowest in decades: NY Times

It doesn't matter what Obama says or does. It doesn't matter what Democrats in the House and Senate say or do. The new Norquist led fanatical zealots in the Tea Party-driven GOP are on the road to destruction, and the only thing that matters to the rest of us is how we prevent them from taking us down with them.

The Republican Party was once the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility, now it is the party of obstructionist whackos.

Yes it has

our country is being held hostage by a small whacko ideology driven cabal intent on dismembering our government, or as Grover Norquist said, "drowning it in a bathtub?" Unfortunately, Obama lacks the spine of his predecessor and, with weak protest, pays the ransom. No sequestering of Congress, no line item vetoes. furloughs start Monday, layoffs to follow. Thank a tea-bagger, and yourself if you voted Republican and hope we don't get that big hurricane this year because FEMA Disaster Relief has been cut as well. If you think this is bad, wait until the 27th when when current government-wide stop-gap spending bill expires and they tank the economy with more obstruction.

to Markowitz, I feel your

to Markowitz,

I feel your pain.

I'll feel yours

when they have to cut back on those military retirement checks.

A deal is a deal - well, not so say Progressives/Communists

Al, so you begrudge our military having the retirement they earned (those that lived anyway) ... paid to them?

Seriously?

Not at all

Just making the point that Mr B should not be cheering what will cause great hardship for others no less deserving than himself.

Yes, and rightfully so. The pain is coming for all of us.

To Markowitz,

It’s strange that you would say that. I do expect government to come after my retirement check, and not just in taxes. Government will decide I’m getting too much and the non-taxpaying welfare dependent is not getting enough. I expect just that. I’ve already alerted my family to this.

And you can feel my pain, again, when I appear before a death panel. I expect that too. But you may not be exempt from that one.

Yes, sometimes we do agree.

Bait and Switch

Revenue is down because incomes are declining. After tax income is lower now than any time since 1959.

What is not down is spending, we're just spending on our grandchildren's credit.

The number that matters is total government spending at all levels, relative to GDP and that has never been higher other than during WW2.

Federal spending alone is $3.8trillion, with State and local spending bringing the total to $6.3trillion, is just under 42% of GDP.

We are now either borrowing or printing just under half of Federal spending, either of which is a tax on future taxpayers.

So, yes, we are broke and we are bankrupting our grandchildren as well.

The whole system is rigged.

according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, the top 100 plutocrats added a combined $241 bn to their kitty last year, for a total aggregate net worth of $1.9 trillion.

Income inequality didn't happen by accident; it happened by adopting GOP and right wing policies that fought unions, fought minimum wages, exported good-paying jobs to Asia, hijacked the tax code for the rich, defunded public education, eliminated pensions, and created massive government deficits in the process....all the while waving the American flag and giving thanks to the 'Lord'.

It's because

The wealthiest write the laws in their favor at the expense of the rest of us. You and I can't afford the lobbyists and lawyers much less underwrite campaigns. Many of the worst laws are authored by the corporate consortium, ALEC. Organized labor doesn't have the pull to counter the aggregated wealth of the 1% of the 1% that have bought our system and the much of the money they spend is to keep people misinformed, anti-labor, and angry at the wrong things. That's why the so-called "tea party" has the power to cripple the country to protect the tax breaks of the wealthiest.

Repent sinner. Envy is a sin.

To Donovan,

I’m sorry to find you and so many others filled with wealth envy (One of the seven major sins).

It is the wealthy plutocrats who have money to invest in industry and job creation. It is they who create jobs in the executive airline and yacht industries.

Dear sir, have you ever worked for a poor man?

The average uninformed voter invests in Walmart and other industries enriching alien nations the likes of China. The only domestic products supported by this class of consumers is industries for alcohol, tobacco, and fattening foods, sex, sports, entertainment, and the illicit drug trade. Let’s not forget government handouts.

Boisselle, please save your religious drivel for your Tpublican

or Fox News radical friends, if you have any.

Republican plutocrats consider $250,000.00 middle class, the minimum wage too high and that the elderly have it too good.

Without race-hatred and religious tribalism and gay-bashing and attacks on women's rights, the GOP has no coalition at all. It would simply scatter to the winds.

Intersections between religion and responsibility

I do not advocate making legal policy based on religion, but it is foolish to ignore the many intersections between religion and economically responsible behavior.

It was not the GOP, but President Obama, who set $250K as the upper limit if the middle class. Most of us Libertarians see dividing up Americans into classes by numerical limits as pretty much useless. What will support a middle class lifestyle(home ownership, college for the kids, etc) in rural Louisiana and New York City is very different. Even were it not, America is a land of opportunity, not class. At different times of my life, I have been poor, rich and middle class by measurements based on income and net worth. So what? I've always been the same person, an individual, not an interchangeable unit of some class.

Free people do not benefit from a minimum wage, we should be paid based on the wealth we create. Setting a minimum wage that is above the value an inexperienced or unskilled worker can contribute to his employer simply removes the bottom rungs on the economic ladder from his reach.

Both religion and good economics tell us to trade with our fellow man in voluntary exchange, and not by force, to receive the best value.

Envy is not only sinful, it is psychologically crippling, you cannot emulate and learn form those you cast as evil. You cannot achieve success by demonizing the behaviors that bring success.

I've known many people we would consider rich, and every one got there by doing what is right.

paid based on the wealth we create?

That would require pay based on company profits with all being partners rather than employees tied to hourly wages and executives with six figure salaries. Not that everyone would get the same cut, but I agree with you that cooperative work is better on many levels than the wage system. The better the company does, the more everyone gets.

No

it requires a wage paid by mutual consent between the employee and employer, in a free market where each is free to seek other employment or labor if they can find a better deal. The market will best set the price of an individual's labor, just as it will for whatever else we trade.

That's funny

Employers have much more power than employees, especially in a tight market. Also, employers are organized and have big lobbies. Workers are lucky to have unions. The market is not a magic arbiter of fairness, nor has it ever been "free." Given the population, we would have to go back to pre-industrial technology to provide even two-thirds of the jobs necessary and as long as there are unemployed people and developing countries with unlivable wages, employers will pit us against each other for the lowest wages possible. That is how the market actually works. Unbridled, unregulated capitalism makes socialism necessary by undermining commons and the ability of people to live.

Exaclty

and that appeals to less people all the time. The mess they are causing now may be their political death knell,

Eyes that don't see.

To Donovan,

I knew you had nothing substantive to offer when you resorted to a reference to FOX news. You forgot the Tea Party.

One could put it another way: without immorality and vices, Democrats have no coalition. Democrats appeal to our corrupt and immoral nature.

There is no evidence in history for greatness in a corrupt and immoral nation. America is falling apart in front of your eyes that don’t see.

YOu have it backwards

Wealth inequality is not a result of the wealthy doing anything wrong.

You can find very few examples where someone got rich other than by providing us something we wanted for less than their competitors. There is nothing wrong with providing for our needs for less.

Those few examples of wealth as a result of harming others are limited to the few who became wealthy by acting in collusion with the Federal Reserve. (That is what big investment banks do.)

The largest reason for wealth inequality is that we have come to expect government to rescue us if we meet with misfortune or simply fail to plan for our future. Because we expect to be taken care of, few people save or invest, and instead, live beyond their means on credit. We have eliminated the incentive to save and live responsibly, and as a result, most people end their lives with very little wealth accumulated.

Our savings rate now is lower than it was in the Great Depression.

The rich did not do that to us, it is a purely self inflicted wound.

If you think

Democrats didn't play a part in this mess, you are sorely misinformed. Obama has generated the largest debt in US history and his only answer is to tax the rich and blame Bush. History will grade this president as a complete failure in economic management.

He came in with the largest debt

and an economy in shambles. Sometimes it takes investing more to get things moving. Could he have invested better? Yes he could but he has had to deal with heavy obstruction even when compromising in advance. A better budget is possible but the tea block would never let it pass.

Poor, poor Obama

To Markowitz,

Poor Obama. He came in with the largest debt and an economy in shambles. He had no choice but to double the debt and make the economy worse. What else could he do?

End the slavery of debt - free citizens from gov addiction

The entire "process" (if you can call it that) of "Sequestration" is the poster child of the utter failure of our oh-too-expensive Federal Government.

Clearly what needs to be done is for the Federal Government to end their practice of spending in so many aspects of our lives that the Federal Government has no authority, mandate, or Constitutional enumerated power to meddle with. THAT is where the cuts belong.

Providing for the Common Defense IS a Constitutional requirement.

Our nation suffers under the weight of out-of-control government spending. To work around the lack of tax funds, yet still keep government's addiction to spending, politicians turned to ... BANKERS ... and BANKERS (to include the Federal Reserve Banks) are all too happy to enslave all of us in massive debt.

Change needs to happen. But instead of prudent and rational change, Congress and our President have turned to child-like temper tantrums and brought the American people the worse they could do, not the best.

Debt is slavery.

Spending is an addiction.

It is the BEHAVIOR of those in elected office - and the lobbyists that now write our laws, that has brought us here.

Not to be left out, we have 3 branches of government.

The Executive, the Ledgislative ... and the Courts.

Many of the rulings by our Supreme Court are clearly ... Wrong.

And the Affordable Heathcare Act/ObamaCare bill is a stunning example for a Federal over reach that will only make our financial disaster ... worse.

Liberals' lack of reading comprehension

To those who gave this Comment a thumbs down, which part of this message is it that you do not understand? Perhaps you need remedial reading comprehension.

As I read through comments,

As I read through comments, I noted that there is much angst, moaning, groaning, and gnashing of teeth among liberals. As usual, Democrats are excused for our financial woes despite the fact of Democrats having full control for two years and now hold down two of three branches of government, still, Republicans bad, Democrats good.

We were led to believe by the doomsday Prophet-in-chief that the sky would fall by yesterday. All this was supported and endorsed by the editors of this newspaper. But, today, we are told that “…the sky did not fall. The impact of this incompetence will take time to arrive.” Whoops! No Armageddon as predicted by our Prophet-in-Chief and the editors.

In the first place, our economy has been fake and false, a mirage, for a long time. One cannot prosper forever on debt. There comes a day of reckoning. Our economy has been boosted with bailouts, grants, subsidies, pork and rife with fraud and abuse.

Too many people have asked what their country can do for them for too long, and too many politicians were too glad to oblige in order to gain and maintain their power and prestige.

It is not Republicans or Democrats, or the president, responsible for this. It is we the people who got everything we asked for and got everything we have coming to us. It is the work of a democracy in action.

Benjamin Franklin "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

Public disdain for responsibility and morality

From Frederick Bastiat, in 1848, "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."

That is where we are now. Responsible behavior that accumulates wealth is demonized and dependency and looting are glorified (and reelected.)

Those who take wealth rightfully earned in honest trade from a minority to buy the votes of the majority are portrayed as compassionate and those who become wealthy providing the things we want and need for less than their competitors are disdained as 'greedy' by those who are consumed by envy, but not motivated to create wealth themselves.

Its hard to see a way back from that until the house of cards collapses and the false promises of government cannot be kept. I am just ashamed my children and grandchildren will have to live through that because my generation would not take Bastiat's warning.

a thought

--I was impressed when the president told the press --"I AM NOT A DICTATOR",--but left out the part he normally adds,--"IT'S MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!"

--he did,though,--resume his --IT'S THE REPUBLICANS FAULT --for not giving us more money.--us being the democrats that just got a pay raise and blew $58 billion in more pork spending,--right after the republicans gave them that rate increase from the rich,--and of course from all of your pay checks.--that is if you have a job at all..

--but It's not over,more to come.--but you must remember that YOU VOTED FOR THOSE PEOPLE!

--A CLIFF?--not yet,--but coming soom to a home near by.--maybe your's?

Let's compromise

I think Obama should compromise with FISCAL PRUDENCE. We're broke. He'll have to start making adjustments to this. He'll have to be sensible. This will be good for his soul, and good for the country.

I think the Pilot should compromise with JOURNALISTIC OBJECTIVITY. Sure, they'll have to give up the hysterical sky-is-falling routine; the abject care and feeding of Obama; the one-sided reporting; and the insulting tendency to push their favorite ideas almost weekly, as if nobody but they could discern the truth. Again, this compromise will be good for the Pilot's soul, and good for the country.

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