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Supercommittee looking less super by the day

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With barely a week to go until the so-called supercommittee’s deadline to strike a deal for about $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, things aren’t looking good. Negotiations are — once again — hung up on taxes, and Washington is rapidly losing hope they’ll come to some agreement by Nov. 23.

Many federal employees would likely breathe a sigh of relief if the supercommittee does fail, since it’s been urged to consider drastic cuts to their pensions, pay, staffing levels and other benefits. But any relief would be fleeting, since the collapse of the supercommittee would trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts called sequestration, evenly divided — in theory — between defense and domestic spending. And that pain would likely hit feds in ways they haven’t yet imagined.

Not so groovy.

Those cuts, as Slate blogger Dave Weigel wrote today, “are supposed to be stupid. They’re so stupid that everyone will be forced to the table, lest they be responsible for taking a Sam Raimi chainsaw to the defense budget and Medicaid.” Indeed, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Nov. 14 wrote to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., warning that it would mean vast layoffs and furloughs of Defense civilian employees, such as contracting and payroll personnel, right away.

Many leading Republicans say that would be unacceptable, and they have no intention of allowing such steep cuts to Defense. Some Republicans have hinted — or outright said — that they plan to undo any sequestration-imposed cuts to the Pentagon, which would shift the lion’s share of the cuts to domestic spending. And that’s almost certain to mean even worse layoffs and furloughs across the rest of the government.

Listen, all of y'all.

President Obama is urging the supercommittee to “bite the bullet” and get a deal done — though on Sunday he wouldn’t commit to vetoing any bill that exempts Defense cuts. “The whole idea of the sequester was to make sure that both sides felt obligated to move off rigid positions and do what was required to help the country,” Obama said.

WaPo blogger Ezra Klein today went one step further and said that dismantling the sequestration trigger would “not just [be] failure. That’s sabotage” — reneging on the debt ceiling deal and completely ruining what little trust remains between Democrats and Republicans.

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  1. Eleiana Says:
    November 17th, 2011 at 2:07 am

    “…would trigger $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts called sequestration….that pain would likely hit feds in ways they haven’t yet imagined.”


    You’d be correct (“…haven’t even imagined yet”) with regards to most people, but trust me; if you’re an agency-HQ budget officer or analyst, you’ve already imagined it, starting weeks ago; and begun to lose sleep over it as well.

  2. Fedline » Daily Show: ‘Congress, this is why people don’t like you’ Says:
    November 17th, 2011 at 11:10 am

    [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}With the supercommittee rapidly entering “laugh so you don’t cry” territory, Jon Stewart last night summed things up [...]

  3. Fedline » Supercommittee lobbying turns cartoonish Says:
    November 17th, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    [...] Officers Association is done sending sternly-worded letters with bullet-pointed statistics to the supercommittee. It’s now turning to cartoons to push lawmakers to avoid vast, across-the-board budget cuts, [...]

  4. Fedline » Sequestration: What will it mean for you? Says:
    November 18th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}The supercommittee is shaping up to be Washington’s biggest flop since the 1961 Redskins. There’s five days left until [...]

  5. Fedline » Supercommittee fails to meet already-low expectations Says:
    November 21st, 2011 at 10:44 am

    [...] will mean — theoretically, at least — that $1.2 trillion must be cut from the federal budget under a process known as [...]