EDITORIAL: Familiar story is tiresome
Feb 24, 2013 (The Philadelphia Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Long ago, when adults would sit down with children to read them stories that fired their imagination as much as any video game or DVD movie, a favorite tale concerned a certain rabbit and an overgrown wooded area known as a briar patch.
To make the story brief -- which is what is required these days when people have little time to read anything that can't be scrolled on a screen with their fingers -- the rabbit pleaded with a fox that had captured him to inflict any manner of harm he wished, "but please don't throw me into the briar patch."
Of course, the fox did just that, which allowed the wily rabbit to escape into his natural habitat.
That brings us to another tale -- some would say a horror story, while others aren't quite so sure -- about the dreaded sequestration of 2013, which both Democrats and Republicans seem to believe is their briar patch.
How the nation got to this point says a lot about politics today. Little of substance gets done because no one wants to take responsibility for the outcome.
Unable to agree on deficit reduction last year, the Ds and Rs decided they needed a more immediate incentive than saddling their grandchildren with enough debt to pay for hundreds of trips to Mars.
So they passed a law calling for sequestration, across-the-board budget cuts, if Congress didn't pass a deficit plan. The cuts were supposed to be so terrible that neither side would risk having them occur. But a January deadline passed without an agreement, and now the extended deadline of March 1 looms.
Headed into the weekend, neither side was yielding. Party leaders screamed about people losing their jobs and vital services ending if sequestration occurs. All the while, they seemed to salivate in anticipation of the opportunity that being thrown into that briar patch will provide. That's when the blame game will really heat up.
But it's already begun. House Speaker John Boehner, in a Wall Street Journal column Wednesday, said it's all President Obama's fault. "With the debt limit set to be hit in a matter of hours, Republicans and Democrats in Congress reluctantly accepted the president's demand for the sequester," he said.
Then the White House blogged Thursday that "the only thing standing in the way of a solution today is congressional Republicans' refusal to even consider closing tax loopholes that benefit wealthy Americans and well-connected corporations."
With their inability to agree on raising taxes to mitigate spending cuts, both the Democrats and Republicans appear willing to let the sequestration chips fall where they may so they can collect political points as a result.
The American public is paying attention. How can it not with all the sequestration news stories But given the predicted magnitude of the situation, people seem to be little moved. Perhaps, after all the hue and cry about a fiscal cliff, which came on the heels of a crippling recession, people are tired of all the talk. What would excite them would be seeing their elected officials engage in more than partisan gamesmanship.
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