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How the U.S. Sequester Will Hurt Science and Tech

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the why-are-politicians-bad-at-politicianizing dept.

Government 522

Later today, the U.S. government will enter the sequestration process, a series of across-the-board budget cuts put into place automatically because U.S. politicians are bad at agreeing on things. "At that moment, somewhere in the bowels of the Treasury Department, officials will take offline the computers that process payments for school construction and clean energy bonds to reprogram them for reduced rates. Payments will be delayed while they are made manually for the next six weeks." The cuts will directly affect science- and tech-related spending throughout the country. Tom Levenson writes, '[s]equester cuts will strike bluntly across the scientific community. The illustrious can move a bit of money around, but even in large labs, a predictable result will be a reduction in the number of graduate student and post – doc slots available — and as those junior and early-stage researchers do a whole lot of the at-the-bench level research, such cuts will have an immediate effect on research productivity. The longer term risk is obvious too: fewer students and post-docs mean on an ongoing drop from baseline in the amount of work to be done year over year.' The former director of the National Institute of Health says it will set back medical science for a generation. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has laid out how the cuts will affect the U.S. space program. He said, "The Congress wasn’t able to do what they were supposed to do, so we’re going to suffer." The sequester will also prevent billions of dollars from flowing into the tech industry. This comes at a time when there's a pressing need in the tech sector for professionals versed in the use of Linux, and salaries for those workers are on the rise.

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522 comments

Total BS (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045605)

Your payroll tax increased 2% on Jan 1, if you work. That is a 2% paycut to you, period.

The sequestor is effectively a 1% reduction in spending this year for the Federal government.

Translation: You need to do with less and not complain, if you force the government to reduce spending by a tiny amount doom will come for you.

Re:Total BS (5, Interesting)

ultracompetent (2852717) | about a year ago | (#43045697)

In total agreement. Anyone can shave 1 to 2 percent of a budget .. In fact as you so rightly point out, we all were asked to do this in 2013. The thing that gets me is how Obama got away with raising a regressive tax like the payroll tax and didn't get slaughtered in the media for raising taxes on the poor and middle class.

Re:Total BS (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43045805)

And it's not even a real cut. It's merely a reduction to the increase.

Baseline Budgeting ensures that ALL budgets increase by a certain percentage every year automatically. This is the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing the budget. The dollar value of the increases will get bigger and bigger as each subsequent increase is a percentage of large budget.

So when you hear people whining about a 2% cut, the are actually whining that they won't get the usual X% increase.

Baseline Budgeting needs to be killed...with fire if possible.

Re:Total BS (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43045901)

But then you'll just find budgets effectively shrinking year-on-year, even if the dollar amount stays the same. Inflation does that.

Re:Total BS (4, Insightful)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about a year ago | (#43045975)

GOOD!! If the program needs to maintain or increase then our representatives need to actively decide to increase funding. Funding should NOT be automatic.

Re:Total BS (5, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#43046009)

That's what gets me.

When I started looking a bit more closely at this, it isn't a cut at all. It is like you said...only a reduction in spending.

Even with sequestration, we're on schedule to spend more this year than last year, just what we need.

Obama got his tax increase....we all saw it in our paychecks in January. Why can't they start cutting...but in an INTELLIGENT manner?

*SIGH*, you know...we really need to just stop...sweep EVERYONE out of Washington, no one in office can come back to it, and start over. Maybe then we'd have a chance going forward for a bit without all the crap that is currently entrenched in DC.

Just start over with a whole new crowd with no one having seniority, no power clicks...etc. It is too bad that there was no periodic "clean the house" type provision in the Constitution where every few decades...whoosh, everyone there is out and must be replaced.

Re:Total BS (2)

Dins (2538550) | about a year ago | (#43046109)

Just start over with a whole new crowd with no one having seniority, no power clicks...etc. It is too bad that there was no periodic "clean the house" type provision in the Constitution where every few decades...whoosh, everyone there is out and must be replaced.

I fully agree - and I agree with most posts above you in the thread. It would be awesome if we could throw EVERYONE out, say, once every 12 years or so and start fresh. But the people who would vote for that are the people who would be thrown out, so of course it's never gonna happen. Shameful...

Re:Total BS (3, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#43046133)

Obama got his tax increase....we all saw it in our paychecks in January. Why can't they start cutting...but in an INTELLIGENT manner?

Because they want to make spending cuts as painful as possible so that they're the stalwart heroes fending them off. It's the Munchausen Sydrome by Proxy school of political thought.

Re:Total BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046089)

If fed employees havent gotten increases in the past few years, and now are forced to be furloughed one day a week until October (20% pay cut once furloughs start) how is that "not even a real cut"

Feds are the whipping boys of repubs because they are an easy target.

Not that I am complaining too much, I rather have whats left of my benefits and some job security over you schmucks who can be fired at whim by nothing more than office politics.

Re:Total BS (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045833)

Oh, that's easy. Because first he lowered it at the start of 2011, to rob Social Security of its only source of funding and buy votes in the 2012 election, and then he let the cut lapse.

The "sequester cuts" are so shallow that all they do is decrease the amount by which spending is increasing this year. This year's spending is still higher than last year's, even after the "cuts."

Obama's biggest fear is that we'll see that everything is just fine without that 1%, and then maybe we'll start demanding more decreases.

Re:Total BS (2, Insightful)

ultracompetent (2852717) | about a year ago | (#43045865)

> Obama's biggest fear is that we'll see that everything is just fine without that 1%, and then maybe we'll start demanding more decreases.

Which is why he has to make the cut hurt. Instead of minimizing waste (reducing travel budgets, etc.) he's going to cut positions with that 1% ...

Re:Total BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046151)

Which is why he has to make the cut hurt. Instead of minimizing waste (reducing travel budgets, etc.) he's going to cut positions with that 1% ...

Bad day for me to run out of mod points. +1 Insightful.

Re:Total BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046013)

But, it's not a everyone cutting their budgets by 1-2%. As pointed out in the interview with the former head of the NIH, the full cut will likely come from new grants, rather than decreasing existing grants (though, that has also been happening). So, those who were just funded, may have a few years to go on their 5 year R01s, but for those coming the end, or new PIs entering the field, things look a little more bleak. Depending on the institute, funding levels are already at the 2-8% level (higher if you're a new investigator), taking that down further is going to hurt a lot of people. PIs working on translational fields or more closely with clinical work can try to supplement with industrial funding, but those levels are also down. Funding levels from charities (Autism Speaks, March of Dimes, Alzheimer's Association, etc.) are also down or the grant funds are heavily cut.

Re:Total BS (4, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about a year ago | (#43046131)

The thing that gets me is how Obama got away with raising a regressive tax like the payroll tax and didn't get slaughtered in the media for raising taxes on the poor and middle class.

Nice revisionist history there. The temporary payroll tax reduction act was allowed to expire by the dysfunctional house of representatives. They used it as a bargaining chip in their attempt to renew the temporary tax relief package that directly benefits the top 1% of income earners. Of course hypocrisy surfaced after the "fiscal conservatives" used the need to reduce the budget deficit as an excuse for letting this tax reduction expire even though these same individuals are still actively pushing to make their own temporary tax relief act permanent.

I single out one lobbyist in particular - Grover Norquist. True to form, he actually argued that the expiration of the payroll relief bill was NOT a tax increase, whereas the expiration of the Bush tax cut for the wealthy is undeniably a tax increase.

It takes some balls to place blame on solely Obama for increasing the payroll tax despite the fact that there are overwhelming amount of written and recorded documentation that shows it was the opposition at fault.

Re:Total BS (4, Interesting)

Weezul (52464) | about a year ago | (#43045757)

Just fyi [slashdot.org], the scientist whose budgets are being cut agree with you [nature.com]. We cannot adequately fund science, education, and social services while gratuitously financing gratuitous military spending and asinine wars on drugs, brown people, etc.

We should first cut it all by 10% per year for a few years, make all those federal contractors show declining profits despite their lobbyists efforts. We should then evaluate which government financed industries tightened their belts but still did the work and which just pocketed the same amount while cutting real work. Any industries in the second category should continue getting cut.

Re:Total BS (1)

cuncator (906265) | about a year ago | (#43045869)

This whole rigmarole about "tax increases" is misleading as a more correct description would be the expiration of tax cuts. For example, in this case FICA returned to 6.2% due to the 2% reduction from the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 not being renewed.

Re:Total BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045961)

Tax goes up, it's an increase. Tax goes down it's a decrease. An explicit expiration date in a tax change does not change that core truth.

Re:Total BS (2)

Jhon (241832) | about a year ago | (#43046003)

Ah. So my taxes didn't INCREASE, they just didn't DECREASE.

Ok. So, we'll spend Friday talking in double negatives.

I'm not going to not party tonight. It's not that I'm NOT PARTYING, I'm just not SLEEPING.

Re:Total BS (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43045873)

Your payroll tax increased 2% on Jan 1, if you work.

Key point there, if you work. Guess how those mysteriously unaffected by the payroll tax increase tend to vote?

Follow the money.


/ Not a Republican.

Re:Total BS (2)

Spazmania (174582) | about a year ago | (#43045941)

Oh noes, payments will be delayed. Engage eyeroll. Folks, payments to contractors and grantees from the federal government are usually late. The timeliness is never predictable, a factor that's programmed in to the cost structure for anyone who does business with the federal government. More tardiness will have no impact whatsoever.

Re:Total BS (2)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about a year ago | (#43046065)

And it's not even really a 1% reduction in spending, because this year's budget represents $100B+ in increases over last year's. The "sky is falling" horseshit over this is amazing.

Re:Total BS (2, Informative)

ewieling (90662) | about a year ago | (#43046119)

Your payroll tax increased 2% on Jan 1, if you work. That is a 2% paycut to you, period.

This simply rolls back the temporary 2% payroll tax decrease from 2 years ago.

Re:Total BS (3, Insightful)

DCFusor (1763438) | about a year ago | (#43046149)

Ever notice that the only things they ever cut are the services, never the wasted people who do nothing useful? It's blackmail, pure and simple for keeping the status quo that benefits useless paper pushers.

And Yet... (4, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#43045615)

There isn't a single Federal department that will not spend more money this year even with the sequester than they spent last year. The $85B in cuts from the sequester is somehow magical: the whole government — every basic function — apparently falls apart without this sliver of money (in a $3.6T overall spending plan), again noting that they will still spend more money than last year, even with the sequester. Amazing, really.

Wait! You don't think.... No! Surely politicians wouldn't play games with government services for political gain? Say it isn't so!

Re:And Yet... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045775)

The problem is that 41% of that accounts for medicare/medicaid and social security, which are areas that neither side want to touch. Defense accounts for another 20%, which is being heavily cut. Welfare like programs are 13%. Retirement benefits for federal employees and veterans is 7%. Things like infrastructure, education, and research take up only 7% of the budget. So yes, a 1 percent cut in federal spending is a big deal for these programs.

Re:And Yet... (2, Informative)

Jhon (241832) | about a year ago | (#43045837)

This Jan saw the government increase spending over $300 billion dollars alone. Didn't see jobs dramatically increase. Yet, Maxine Waters scare-mongers that we'll lose 170 thousand (she stupidly said MILLION, but give her the benefit of the doubt) by cutting ~$80B.

What I want to know is why we didn't see jobs increase by 600k plus since January?

Re:And Yet... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045839)

NIH budget in 2011: $30.9 billion
NIH budget in 2012: $31.9 billion
NIH budget requested for 2013: $30.8 billion
NIH cuts from the sequester: $1.6 billion
NIH budget after sequester (assuming 2012 levels continued): $30.3 billion (which LESS THAN 2011)

Accounting for 2% inflation, the real NIH budget after sequestration in 2011 dollars: $29.1 billion

It's called math, and you are wrong.

Re:And Yet... (1)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#43045889)

Fine. There is one department whose budget will be a tiny bit less. Do you argue with the basic premise that the government will, overall, spend more money than last year even after the sequester, and that this is hardly some epic disaster?

Re:And Yet... (2)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#43046145)

I eagerly await the proof for Dr. Hypebole's statement that the loss of less than 6% of funding (assuming your 2% inflation estimate is correct, which it isn't) will "set back medical science for a generation".

Re:And Yet... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045909)

Whenever a government department must make cuts they always try to cut on things highly visible and/or painful to the public. After all, if it doesn't hurt the next round of cuts might hit you harder. It's the job of managment (i.e. the whitehouse) to tell them to stop playing these stupid games and do some real cost control.

Which raises the question: is Obama joining them and playing such games for political gain or is he merely too incompetent to cut the federal budget by a fraction of a percent without everything falling appart?

Re:And Yet... (1)

g4sy (694060) | about a year ago | (#43045913)

Please please when you make such poignant posts, can you next time mention, for historical reference: "The Education of David Stockman" ... or just make a reference to how this happened once before. It's not about left or right or anything. The neocons got conned into this same lobby-spiral gimmick that the dems are going into now. The regular guys will always pay the bill.

Re:And Yet... (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#43045919)

There isn't a single Federal department that will not spend more money this year even with the sequester than they spent last year. The $85B in cuts from the sequester is somehow magical: the whole government â" every basic function â" apparently falls apart without this sliver of money (in a $3.6T overall spending plan), again noting that they will still spend more money than last year, even with the sequester. Amazing, really.

Your point being that.... nothing bad is going to happen?
Because if that's what you're trying to say, you might as well come right out with it.

I think you're missing the fact that the sequester isn't x% off the total budget. It's x% off of almost every item in the budget.
How long is your landlord going to accept 95% of your rent bill?
How long are your pets going to eat 95% of their regular diet?
How long are you going to spend 95% of the maintanence required for your car?

Re:And Yet... (1)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#43046017)

Technically, it's not at the PPA level. It's a level higher, so no, it's not every program in the budget, actually. There are some that will not have that cover (because they're small), but most of the cuts allow for a lot more flexibility in how they are cut than it would at first appear. As it happens, the President is using that flexibility to make the cuts as bad as possible, rather than as easy as possible. So I'm saying that nothing bad must happen, but that doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen.

Frankly, if we can't cut the budget back to where it was in the scary dark ages of, say, 2010 without the world falling apart, then we have way bigger problems than this sequester. But in actual fact, we are not talking about cutting anything, but about slowing the rate of growth in programs. So really, it's all crap political theater.

Re:And Yet... (4, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | about a year ago | (#43046047)

"I think you're missing the fact that the sequester isn't x% off the total budget. It's x% off of almost every item in the budget.
How long is your landlord going to accept 95% of your rent bill?
How long are your pets going to eat 95% of their regular diet?
How long are you going to spend 95% of the maintanence required for your car?"

Wrong questions to ask. The correct questions to ask are:

Since you spend more than you make:

How long can you pay your rent using your credit cards?
How long can you buy pet food before your credit runs out?
How long can you maintain your before your credit runs out?

An even BETTER question to ask is:

"Why the hell are you spending so much more than you make????"

Re:And Yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046105)

Interesting that this was the proposed plan in exchange for a total of about 2.4TRILLION in increase in the debt ceiling. ~$85B over several years (under 50B this year) and that debt ceiling has almost been reached again????? That's right... hopefully more cuts are coming.

The US Federal government is a dragon... Where are all the knights when you actually need them?

Sequestration is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045617)

I see Sequestration as a good thing. Think of all dead wood that is being eliminated because of it. Of course there are going to be some casualties. But I am sure the shinning stars have read the book "who moved my cheese" and are looking for a better job.

House Republicans (0, Troll)

Cruxus (657818) | about a year ago | (#43045629)

Hate to say it, but the House Republicans take the majority of the blame for this one. Some on the Right see crippling the government as a good thing.

Re:House Republicans (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045651)

Wrong, its the failure of leadership to get something done and the leadership is the President. If he cannot build a culture where people can agree to disagree but come out with a win-win then its his fault 100%.

Re:House Republicans (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045689)

You sir are a fucking retard. You can't build compromise with people whose sole purpose is to disagree with you no matter what you say.

Re:House Republicans (4, Insightful)

medcalf (68293) | about a year ago | (#43045799)

I know, I shouldn't feed the trolls. But I do have to note that the Republican-controlled House has been passing budgets while the Dem-controlled Senate has not, which is why we've been running on continuing resolutions (and thus running up $1T per year in new debt). I also have to note that the Republican-controlled House has pushed through at least three bills to avoid the sequester, but the Dem-controlled Senate has killed all of them. I also have to note that the President and the Dem-controlled Senate have not put forward any plan except vague notions of raising more taxes on "the rich," which is their answer to every question, apparently, including "Where shall we have lunch." Moreover, I have to note that the President has threatened to veto all of the ways the Republicans have proposed to avoid the sequester. Which I must finally note was in fact the President's idea as a lever to get the Republicans in the House to agree to tax increases, not the last time that taxes were raised, but the time before that.

I don't trust the Republicans in government further than I can comfortably spit a rat, but take off your partisan blinders for a moment and look around. The world is both weirder and more wonderful than your blinkered view will allow in.

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046063)

Passing a budget that has no chance to pass the senate is an exercise in futility and a waste of time. If they refuse to work with others and just pass what they no will fail how is that any better then passing nothing at all?

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046093)

You don't understand the words "control of the Senate". Fillibuster.

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045717)

Yes, because as we all know, it's the President that creates budgets, not Congress.

Or maybe it's the bit in the Constitution that outlines one of the duties of the President:

"The Office of the President is to duly serve as the Minder of The Congress"

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045875)

Under the Obama administration they have not passed a budget yet (another *yearly* duty outlined in the constitution).

Obama could have taken control of that 'I will veto anything that is not a budget'. Instead he has encouraged arguing about it.

Re:House Republicans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045723)

The President has one vote, just like any of the rest of us. It's hardly his fault that roughly half of the powers that be gladly proclaim that sequestration is a good thing.

You DO know about the separation of powers, right? Are you proposing some sort of alternate reality where Congress and the Senate are puppets that only do the bidding of the President?

Re:House Republicans (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045971)

Like the previous person said, take off your blinders, I have yet to see the Obama and his administration respect any of the "separation of powers". Want some examples? well here are a few, Tell the supreme court they better not strike down his Obamacare. His administration has no transparency, yet that was his platform. He routinely tells his AG to ignore enforcing laws that "He" doesn't agree with. If he can't get something passed, he writes an executive order. He uses fear mongering and children as props when he doesn't get his way.

He really respects the separation of power....keep telling yourself that, if that lets you sleep at night.

FYI (I didn't approve of how the last president used his power, but the current administration has done things 100 times worse, in short, obama has to be one of the biggest hypocrites I've seen in a long time.)

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046097)

You have taken 2 examples that show nothing. Telling the supreme court what he would like is hardly telling them what to do. And not upholding DOMA a law already found to be unconstitutional by the courts seems to follow the oath of office. While I may not agree with the amount of transparency in the current administration your examples are very bad.

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046069)

part of the president's job as a leader is to lead. This, in part, means bringing the sides together and reaching an agreement that works for both sides. Has he ever done that since he's been in office?

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045729)

A high school level government class would have helped you form a more intelligent point, or at least one that had a shred of truth to it.

Re:House Republicans (1)

Jhon (241832) | about a year ago | (#43045699)

Hate to say it, but it's the ignorant blaming House Republicans that take the majority of the blame for this one. Some of the ignorant see wearing blinders as a GOOD thing.

Re:House Republicans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045719)

Hate to say it, but the House Republicans take the majority of the blame for this one. Some on the Right see crippling the government as a good thing.

Finally, the Republicans actually limited government spending! They should own this every chance they can get!

I don't think I can help you if you think this petty-cash reduction in spending is "crippling". I for one am tired of mortgaging my unborn children's futures.

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046053)

You know they're still spending more this year than last year, even with the sequester, right?

Re:House Republicans (5, Insightful)

JayBean (841258) | about a year ago | (#43045733)

I'm sorry, but if a 2% cut to expenditure is crippling, then the system deserves to fail.

Know what a government with 2% less money looks like? Take a look at the budget from 2010. That's what it looks like.
I know, using the 2010 budget for 2013. Complete madness!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_budget#Total_outlays_in_recent_budget_submissions [wikipedia.org]

If you are really brave, take a look at the budget from 2001 (Clinton). 1.9 trillion.

Re:House Republicans (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045735)

Some on the Right see crippling the government as a good thing.

I don't see how you can consider a 2% budget reduction "crippling." And consider how the individuals in power are very happy to raise taxes by more than 2%, and don't think that would be harmful to families.

Re:House Republicans (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#43045741)

You mean the House Republicans who passed not one but two bills as alternatives to replace sequestration while the Senate Democrats did nothing (except to complain that the Republicans hadn't agreed to raise taxes even more) and when the President finally actually proposed something it included mostly more tax increases and a lot of "cuts" that were undefined.
Of course, the other part of your post that I have to challenge is the idea that cutting the amount that government spending increases will somehow "cripple" the government. Not only are the cuts in this sequestration not significant, they are merely reductions in how much federal spending will increase not reductions in actual amounts spent.

Re:House Republicans (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#43046071)

You mean the House Republicans who passed not one but two bills as alternatives to replace sequestration

Republicans passed those bills in the 112th Congressional session.
Which means those bills are dead right now, since we're in the 113th session.
They'd need to be resubmitted and brought back for a vote if Republicans were serious about putting them into play.

*Here's a summary of the Democratic proposal from Feb 14th [house.gov] which the Republican House leadership has refused to allow a vote on.
And the full text of the bill HR 699: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr699/text [govtrack.us]

The real problem is that Republicans think that cutting spending is the only way to fix the budget,
despite the fact that taxes are at historic lows and austerity is actually a really shitty idea (see: europe).

*skip down to the last section if you don't want to read a bunch of political posturing

Re:House Republicans (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046075)

This is the most intellectually dishonest shit I've ever seen modded up here. Conservative shills are out in force today. The sequester was supposed to be a set of cuts so horrible that nobody in their right mind would see them through and congress would be forced to make something work.. And now we have right-wing media ad social media manipulators spinning the sequester as a good thing.

Did you read the budgets passed by the house republicans? No, you didn't. And for good reason, because they're worth less than the paper they're printed on. Completely unrealistic piles of garbage fuled by pixie dandruff and unicorn farts that would NEVER pass through the other branch of congress.

A better question is why did the Republicans pass budgets that they knew would never go anywhere?

There was a budget yesterday. It was going to go through. Guess who stopped it? Yeah, minority filibuster. Who's not doing their job again?

Re:House Republicans (1)

brainboyz (114458) | about a year ago | (#43045771)

Given the massive amount they're spending over budget this IS a good thing. Blame congress as a whole for where the cuts are being made, but the cuts are good. This is no different than a city saying "if we don't increase taxes, we'll have to reduce police and fire presence." They neglect to mention they've paid themselves and pet projects FIRST when threatening to defund and cut vital services.

Re:House Republicans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045777)

Hate to say it, but the House Republicans take the majority of the blame for this one. Some on the Right see crippling the government as a good thing.

Get your facts straight, Harry Reid, the Dems, and obama came up with the plan and are now trying to blame the rep. for their own inaction. Besides, it represents a reduction in the increase in spending this year rather than a reduction from last year.

Re:House Republicans (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#43045779)

We have a funding crisis every 3 to 6 months now like clockwork. If the the federal government had a budget this wouldn't happen. The blame lies with the senate.

Re:House Republicans (1, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43045827)

Hate to say it, but the House Republicans take the majority of the blame for this one.

Wait - So the whitehouse bluffed and the Republicans called them on it, and you blame the Republicans?

IANAR, but just no. Both sides may take the blame for failing to come up with real cuts, but the full burden of responsibility for the sequester rests solidly on Barry's broad shoulders.

Re:House Republicans (1, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | about a year ago | (#43045843)

House Republicans passed two bills to address this last year and the Senate didn't even bother to look at them.

Obama has threatened to veto a couple or proposed solutions.

So, who get's' the majority of the blame?

Re:House Republicans (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43046163)

Holy fuck that's some spin.

The Republican bills were complete pie-in-the-sky conservative fantasy that would NEVER have passed, and would have been disastrous if they did. The blame is on their shoulders for not putting forward anything that would have had a chance of making it. Those pieces of legislation were nothing more than symbolic gestures to pander to their base.

And you're pretty stupid for buying their BS.

And still... (5, Informative)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#43045633)

the federal government will spend $14,000,000,000 more this year than last, even with these "cuts."

Re:And still... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045751)

It isn't the amount cut it is the across the board nature of the cut that is the problem.

Cut what hurts the most (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045639)

As we have seen numerous times in the past, one way to reduce change (especially with the public) is to increase the pain of change. Save a dollar? Better unplug the preme from the ICU for 20 minutes to save power instead of cutting back on the free lunch for the doctors.

Seen before and expected, but lets all start screaming.

Please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045647)

Can we please just cut these idiots' pay every time they stop doing their jobs like this?
I bet all of our problems would be fixed really quick!

A generation? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045649)

A less than 3% cut in funding is going to set medical science back a generation? By that logic, if we were to increase funding by 3% (as we have more than done) we should have seen a generation's worth of progress. So where are my medical tricorders?

Methinks somebody is fearmongering. I'll be the first to say cutting research funding is a dumb idea, but is it too much to ask that the former head of the NIH assess the situation based on the facts and not Chicken Little "the sky is falling" theater?

Re:A generation? (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year ago | (#43045845)

If the Federal government were to unhook it's talons from research funding, it wouldn't be on the chopping block every time budget cuts are under consideration.

Re:A generation? (1)

Zibodiz (2160038) | about a year ago | (#43045979)

Exactly. Besides, in the past 20 years, no significant advancements have been made in practical medical practice. Sure, some scientists have come up with a few new ideas, but no real improvements have made their way to the consumer, and any new treatments that have, have been so ridiculously overpriced that nobody can afford them anyway (I've never seen insurance that covers 'experimental treatments'). Any new treatments (c'mon, you know you've seen a few headlines for breakthrough cancer treatments [slashdot.org] or cures for Hep. C [slashdot.org]) are buried under enough red tape in the FDA that our generation won't be around by the time they are allowed for use in doctor's offices.

tl;dr: Nothing of value was lost.

/. is now a Party Apparatus (-1, Flamebait)

AntiBasic (83586) | about a year ago | (#43045653)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-hail-armageddon/2013/02/28/ca8a32a6-81da-11e2-b99e-6baf4ebe42df_story.html

"After all, the sequester is just one-half of 1 percent of GDP. It amounts to 1.4cents on the dollar of nondefense spending, 2 cents overall." Even with it, this year's expenditures are still more than was spent on last year's federal budget. A possible 5% reduction in discretionary spending after a 14% increase since 2008 will surely mean calamity: parents will be eating their children, Westboro Baptist and the KKK will merge, we'll finally know what the definition of is is, etc.

They told me if I voted for Romney, we'd see an administration that threatens journalists like Bob Woodward, and they were right!

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/02/28/173135931/the-meaning-of-regret-journalist-bob-woodward-white-house-disagree

Re:/. is now a Party Apparatus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045747)

Sweet, some links to a blog and an opinion piece. Thanks for your valuable contribution.

Re:/. is now a Party Apparatus (1)

sarysa (1089739) | about a year ago | (#43046019)

The Bob Woodward thing was a bit overblown, fyi. Not really as mafia-like as it first seemed once you read the emails. (And I'm on the "Obama administration is fearmongering" side, to put my biases out there)

Bullshit (5, Informative)

Weezul (52464) | about a year ago | (#43045657)

Colin Macilwain. Science should be ready to jump off ‘the cliff’ [nature.com]. Nature 491, 639 (29 November 2012) doi:10.1038/491639a

These aren't real scientists asking that government money stick around, but lobbyists for companies that feed upon science funding. Scientists love more government money of course, but many scientists understand that far must be cut, especially in military spending.

Sequestration merely provides an opportunity to re-evaluate what is important. Our question should be : Do we decide "important" by consulting lobbyists or by looking at the work that gets done.

Must be nice (1)

Carnivore24 (467239) | about a year ago | (#43045661)

Not one person in the 3 branches of government made any mention of making sacrifices and them getting pay cuts?

Tammy Duckworth to take 8.4 percent pay cut if seq (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045715)

Tammy Duckworth to take 8.4 percent pay cut if sequester happens
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/02/27/tammy-duckworth-to-take-8-4-percent-pay-cut-if-sequester-happens/

Re:Must be nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045803)

Several of them did. Many on both sides of the political spectrum hemmed and hawed about how they would gladly take one, but it wouldn't do any good. Then they got into their limos Thursday afternoon and settled in for a long vacation weekend.

Good old American bait and switch (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#43045671)

It was "the government shutdown" a few years ago. And all sorts of people got on their soap box and blamed everyone else for it. Now it's called something else, the "sequester". And again let's point fingers and blame. However none of that has to do with the real problem - the US is spending more money than it takes in, spending more money than it can print, even, and has been doing this for YEARS. They scream at the federal banks to keep interest rates near zero to "stimulate the economy" meaning that everyone must bear the cost of the devaluation including those smart enough to put their money to work, and then they wonder why all the wealth is leaving the US dollar.

The US will be buried under its Keynesian nightmare. I just hope it doesn't take the whole world with it.

Soulskill is an idiot. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045681)

> because U.S. politicians are bad at agreeing on things.

If you think the budget problems (and resulting cuts) are only due to disagreement, you're an idiot.

This is wonderful news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045731)

Not being American myself and living in Europe, this is some much needed good news for us. We have not cut scientific or R&D nearly as much as the US which in to medium to long term will give us a competitive advantage. The only problem is that China is still ramping up its R&D budgets. The decline of the US is old news.

call it what it is (1)

SeanBlader (1354199) | about a year ago | (#43045739)

They should really call it what it is, "austerity". Then maybe the idea of it will be more obvious when compared to similar measures around the world. Really, this is the USA, we can do better.

Re:call it what it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045937)

"austerity"

That would mean they are actually 'cutting' things.

This is 'hey we are going to spend 10% more next year'. (bunch of screaming and yelling about it). 'Ok we will cut the budget by 5% then'. What they really do is 'only' increase the budget by 5% instead of 10% and say it is a 5% cut. They are 'cutting' things they have not even spent the money on yet and not even bothering to look at what they are doing *right now*.

A bunch of FUD .... seriously ..... (1, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43045759)

If there's one thing politicians are EXPERTS at, it's convincing the general public that money must keep flowing in for any and all of the projects they voted for, or else dire consequences will result.

To step back and put these cuts into perspective.... Federal govt. is STILL spending something like $13 TRILLION dollars a year in deficit spending with the full effects of the sequester in place!

The primary reason Obama is motivated to scare up people to put a stop to this and "work out a deal" is because this prevents his healthcare reform plans from taking effect. (And before we get into that whole debate on whether or not his healthcare changes would be a good or a bad thing for the USA? Let me just say that IMO, the REAL problem with them is they attempt to fix only one side of the issue, while ignoring the other side. It's great to try to ensure all Americans have healthcare options available to them. But nobody has really tried, yet, to do anything about the massive (and constantly rising) COSTS of healthcare, which SOMEBODY gets the bill for, whether it's an uninsured individual or the insurance company covering that individual by govt. mandate.

Time magazine (the online version) very recently published a great piece on all of this, breaking down line-by-line, all the costs on 6 or 7 people's hospital bills, and clearly illustrating how inflated and arbitrary those charges are. (By and large, the price Medicare/Medicaid actually compensates a hospital for a given procedure or good is pretty darn close to what a "fair" price would really be, where a small but reasonable profit is made - but no gouging takes place. But so far, Obama's healthcare reform doesn't really do anything to ensure ALL insurance companies are able to pay those bills using those same rate structures. So each of those $29 -rays becomes $300 charges, etc.)

But overall? As little effort has been made to spend our tax dollars more wisely? (Some recently approved study was going to give over $1 million to researchers for a project studying goldfish to see what they could learn about political choices people make based some some aspect of their habits!) I wouldn't mind seeing govt. grinding to a halt for a while .... even if it causes a little inconvenience and pain in the short-run.

Re:A bunch of FUD .... seriously ..... (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43045959)

$13 TRILLION dollars a year in deficit spending

Not even remotely close to accurate. It spends approximately $3.8 trillion in total this year, and of that about $900 billion was originally going to be borrowed.

It's great to try to ensure all Americans have healthcare options available to them. But nobody has really tried, yet, to do anything about the massive (and constantly rising) COSTS of healthcare, which SOMEBODY gets the bill for, whether it's an uninsured individual or the insurance company covering that individual by govt. mandate.

Actually, RomneyObamaCare (I call it that because Obama basically took Mitt Romney's plan in Massachusetts and made it national) has various attempts to do just that, to curb the growth in medical costs, most notably in reducing spending on unnecessary procedures. It's unclear if they'll work, but we haven't even had a chance to find out yet.

The approach that was dismissed as unrealistically liberal, Medicare for All, did in fact mean that everyone would have had the benefit of Medicare's tough negotiating. It was a non-starter because the insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospitals all opposed that.

Cut it all! (2)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43045769)

Cut it all - Starting with congresscritter pensions and benefits (don't get distracted by their salaries, just a drop in the bucket compared to their real cost).

The problem with this whole sequester (aside from not going nearly far enough) comes from the whitehouse thinking themselves clever for having made an uncallable bluff - From assuming that the Republicans would never let the military suffer any real cuts. Well, whaddya know, in a surprising show of sanity, the larger principle of getting government spending under control trumped even their favorite special interest.

Yeah, we (by which I mean fiscal conservatives, not to imply I would ever voluntarily associate myself with the GOP) would all rather see the real problems addressed - End social security, end security theater, and cut HHS and the DOD in half (at least). But this current farce? Hey, better than nothing, but at least it counts as a start.

Cut. It. All!

BULLSHIT (3, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year ago | (#43045863)

Really, how long are we going to swallow absolute FUD without question?

The sequester is $1.2 trillion....OVER TEN YEARS. So $120 bill a year (I've seen it reported as $85 bill for this year).

The idea - as promulgated by the spenders in Congress and White House - is that ANY cut in spending by the US gov't will radically and catastrophically affect (whatever service is important to the listener). This is a bald-faced lie.

This morning, a senior administration official claimed that sequestration would CANCEL all military service person training for the rest of the year (outside of actually-deployed servicepeople). Seriously? A 5% cut in budget cancels 75% of a training schedule?

One example: Obama/Tiger Golf Trip cost $989,207 to the Fed and $78,205 to local police...the average american household paid $1372 in income tax... So ~728 American households had to pay taxes for an entire year to fund the golf trip...

And yet we're crying that we can't cut anything from the US budget? Really?
My understanding - I'm not an economist - is that if we simply STOPPED programmed-increases in spending for 6 years, the US budget would be balanced. That doesn't seem that painful, given that most American businesses (except Wall Street, I suppose) have suffered far worse over the past 5 years already.

On NPR this morning, they discussed the previous sequestration of 2% that happened in 1991. The bureaucrat they talked to discussed "how hard it was to implement this 2% cut in everything", using as an example a call he got from a Parks person, asking how they implement a 2% cut in service that scrapes bird shit off of channel buoys. His response was to "...only scrape 98% of the crap off".
This, my friends, is what passes for both intelligent thought in government bureaucrats...either he (most likely) thought that was an ironic, humorous reply to what he felt was an unjust budget cutting (which it really wasn't) or he thought that was ACTUALLY a way to reduce his 'poop scraping' service costs by 2%.

As much as they try to make it so, it's pretty simple: expenditure cannot exceed income. Period, full stop. ANY OTHER SOLUTION IS GAME-PLAYING.

Oh, and for those with a party bias? I'll just remind everyone that this has been a problem for 50 years REGARDLESS of which party controlled Congress and the White House. It wouldn't be this bad, if both parties weren't generally colluding.

Re:BULLSHIT (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43046161)

Game-playing, but a government can play a lot of games that your household budget cannot. They can outright issue currency, if they need to. They can take out loans secured on the potential to issue currency, making them zero-risk and thus permitting a very low interest rate. The debt keeps mounting, but it's a debt that can mount indefinitely. It's worked, up until now.

Betcha regret not pushing fillibuster reform now. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045911)

Lets not pussyfoot around. The problem is Republicans. (No, Democrats don't do it too. I think we've burred that tired old lie under 20 ft of concrete)

They tanked hard in the last election (For good reasons) and now a minority in one half of congress is throwing a tantrum in a last ditch effort to hard crash the economy for the people that fund them. Yeah, that's what I'm saying. Yeah, it's fucking treasonous.

This is how the Republican party works today. (Since 2009) This is the whole of their party, and how it's choices are made:
Think tanks, superpacs, etc funded by the hyper-rich create policy and dictate those terms to Republican politicians. These orgs are the primary funds for Republican elections. If you, as Republican politician, step out of line these orgs will simply fund some teaparty sockpuppet and you'll lose the Primary where ultra-conservative rhetoric is enough to succeed.

Of course, this often ends up landing the Republicans with an un-electable candidate come the general election, which is why they tanked so hard in 2012. (Really. Rich white guy loses to a black guy in a bad economy.) - But the problem is that the remaining Republicans either 1. Fanatic sockpuppets, or 2. Scared shitless and willing to do anything not to get "Primaried"

In either case, their motivation is not to do their job and serve the public. It's the do whatever super rich people say. The ultra rich don't care if the government grinds to a halt. Quite the contrary. They've figured out that the less that it works, they more money they make.

Hurray for Sequestration! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43045943)

If the people elected to Congress, Senate and Whitehouse can't pass a frigging budget in 5 frigging years at least we can implement the measures PROPOSED AND APPROVED BY THE PRESIDENT to decrease their out of control spending!

3 cheers!

I care, but only a little. (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year ago | (#43046035)

I care, but only a little. And at this point it's abotu securing myself and my family from any of the negative effects that will come.

I think the whole sequester thing is dumb as hell. Always did.
After playing poltical brinkmanship for years, they finally agree on one thing, and its this idiot piece of legislation.

So I do care. But I have very little sympathy left. Because after passing this absolutely retarded "suicide pact" what did the country do?

THEY RE-ELECTED ALL THE SAME IDIOTS AND SENT THEM RIGHT BACK TO CONGRESS, AGAIN.

So who is more foolish?
The fools in Congress?
Or the fools who re-elected them?

Since day one, I know it would happen like this. As a political gambit both sides knew EXACTLY what they were doing.
They knew from the first that they would absolutely intentionally go right over that cliff.
And they knew right from the start that they would blame the other side for anything negative to come of it.
And they knew that the fools that elected them would believe them when they did so and compeltely ignore any fault on the part of their own political side.

As far as the politicians are concerned, its a win/win no matter what happens.
After all, it's not actually going to affect them inside, only everyone else outside the Capitol building

They'll make damn sure of that.

Government needs to look under its couch... (2)

PseudoCoder (1642383) | about a year ago | (#43046057)

During all the Chicken Little propaganda blitz, not a mention in any of the media outlets about the > $100B in wasteful spending that the Government Accountability Office found. Go to WSJ.com and search for the article "Billions in Bloat Uncovered in Beltway". Last week Rand Paul returned $600k in surplus operating budget back to the Treasury, up from $500k he returned last year. I'm sure there are plenty of Congressmen(women) that could do the same. I'm sure they could if more of them actually had respect for our tax dollars. How about slashing Congress' budget?

Or how about cutting down on the hundreds of millions of dollars in conferences that Gov't employees attend every year? Do conferences have to be in Vegas? Can we setup a few of these conferences in Detroit for a change, even if it's not as much fun? That is, if they're so important because of the work being done. Hmmm?

Also no mention of the fact that there is still plenty of discretion as to what each agency gets to cut. Planes won't fall out of the sky if you furlough paper pushers instead of Air Traffic Controllers.

Truth is, not every Federal employee is critical, and they are now starting to average better pay and more $100k+ workers and better benefits than the private sector. The Government shut down numerous times during Reagan's time, and nobody resorted to cannibalism because of it. Civilization is still here; for now. Notice how, up until last week, the message was all about all the different aspect of our lives that were going to break down due to these budget cuts. The President sounded like a prepper! Doesn't this tell us that we are WAAAY too dependent on government?

Fear, fear, fear and more fear (1)

theendlessnow (516149) | about a year ago | (#43046099)

While I'm certain there is some truth that a small decrease in budget means some things might not happen (we're actually more resilient though... so I wouldn't say that "all things stop" like some are trying to say).... what about all the waste? I mean, you scratch your head about how our tax dollars are used to study arguably "stupid" things.... did you ever ask why that is? Do we really want those studies?

If I give a "gift" of government dollars to "you" and you don't really have a plan.. in order to not lose those dollars, you come up with "something"... and presto... the stupid research study is born.... so maybe a reduction is a good idea... maybe we'll think more carefully about where dollars matter... in fact, maybe even better would be a better "attitude" (and associated process) that makes us want to push committed dollars to "real" meaningful projects and studies instead of creating "the stupid" just so we don't throw away the funding.

The government is a machine. Remember how things work and then you can understand why there is so much waste.

If we can't afford stuff... let's decide that we stop spending until we figure out how to spend correctly... While I'm not a fan of President Obama, I'm not against the idea of spending tax dollars on national infrastructure if done wisely (and I believe he's sort of for that... though I'll bet there's an "angle"). But for now, until we figure out how to stop wasting the dollars, I think we just need to put the brakes on in order to force people to "scream". Let's face it, we use the "scream test" in IT all of the time to reduce waste.... it works... though occasionally (rare) the penalty is high.

slash dotters do understand math! (1)

nicoleb_x (1571029) | about a year ago | (#43046113)

I guess it should come as no surprise that slash dotters do understand math and know BS when it involves numerical slight of hand. Too bad the press and a lot of politicians can't figure this out.

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