On Saturday, Washington Post reporters Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane fretted, with the help of several leftists they quoted, that sequestration might not cause enough pain. Given that the so-called "cuts" under discussion are really "reductions in projected spending growth," that is a legitimate fear if your perspective is that government shouldn't ever shrink under any circumstances.
Rush Limbaugh was correct on Tuesday when he noted that the Post let the "sky is falling" mask slip in it report. Several paragraphs, followed by a bit of Rush's reaction, follow the jump.
First, from the Post (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The big sequester gamble: How badly will the cuts hurt?
... Over the past week, President Obama has painted a picture of impending disaster, warning of travel delays, laid-off firefighters and pre-schoolers tossed out of Head Start. Conservatives accuse Obama of exaggerating the impact, and some White House allies worry the slow-moving sequester may fail to live up to the hype.
“The good news is, the world doesn’t end March 2. The bad news is, the world doesn’t end March 2,” said Emily Holubowich, a Washington health-care lobbyist who leads a coalition of 3,000 nonprofit groups fighting the cuts. “The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: See, that wasn’t so bad.”
In the long partisan conflict over government spending, the sequester is where the rubber meets the road. Obama is betting Americans will be outraged by the abrupt and substantial cuts to a wide range of government services, from law enforcement to food safety to public schools. And he is hoping they will rise up to demand what he calls a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction that replaces some cuts with higher taxes.
But if voters react with a shrug, congressional Republicans will have won a major victory in their campaign to shrink the size of government. Instead of cancelling the sequester, the GOP will likely push for more.
“It would be a big problem for the White House if the sequester came and went and nobody really noticed anything. Then people will start saying, ‘Well, maybe we can cut spending,” said John H. Makin, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who penned a recent Wall Street Journal piece titled “Learning to Love the Sequester.”
Adding to the liberal angst is concern that the scale of the cuts may be overstated, at least in the short term. While the sequester orders the White House to withdraw $85 billion in spending authority from affected agencies in the fiscal year that ends in September, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that agencies will reduce actual spending by only about $44 billion, with the remaining cuts carried over into future years.
Compared with total 2013 discretionary spending, that’s a cut of less than 4 percent.
Limbaugh identified the true meaning of what Montgomery and Kane wrote, and previewed some of some of what we're likely to see:
That's pretty telling. How can there be spending reductions without the world collapsing? In fact, the Post goes on to reiterate this. "But if voters react with a shrug, congressional Republicans will have won a major victory in their campaign to shrink the size of government. Instead of cancelling the sequester, the GOP will likely push for more," which is to say some Republicans might even push for real cuts. Oh! Oh! So the Washington Post really lets the mask slip. There aren't any real cuts in this sequester. And if this sequester happens and there aren't any real cuts and therefore the world doesn't end on March 2nd, then the Republicans might be emboldened and actually try to really cut some spending.
So they have totally taken the mask off in this story, and we know what they're really worried about. They have built this thing up into genuine Armageddon. It's like the National Weather Service telling you that there is a 125% chance that a hurricane is gonna strike where you live and destroy everything, and the day comes and it's just maybe some clouds and a few sprinkles. The Post says the Republicans might even push for real cuts, and not just reductions in the rate of growth, real cuts. And that would be a nightmare that the Democrats don't want to deal with it. That's right. If voters react with a shrug, congressional Republicans -- in fact, I don't think the Democrats can afford that happening.
I think what's gonna happen is that Obama will get with Democrat mayors, Democrat town councilmen, they'll try to get this as local as he can make it. And people in towns and cities all over America run by Democrats will actually lay some cops off, just to make sure. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens. I wouldn't put anything past these people because the optic is everything. The greatest enemy, greatest threat the Democrat Party and the Obama administration face is reality, the truth.
These fears probably go a long way in explaining why agencies are already taking hurtful actions, such as releasing illegal immigrants in detention, and blaming them on sequestration even before it takes effect. Sadly, such actions are probably a preview of much worse to come -- virtually all of it unjustified.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.