Gov. Bob McDonnell has sent a letter to President Obama (and his press list) “calling for immediate action to prevent the implementation of the sequester.” Ah yes, the sequester. The evil budgetary monster that, if it comes to pass, will send Virginia and sundry other states that are firmly welded to the federal teat into an economic tailspin. The Governor is rather upset by the possibility:
As we all know, the defense, and other, cuts in the sequester were designed to be a hammer, not a real policy. Unfortunately, inaction by you and Congress now leaves states and localities to adjust to the looming threat of this haphazard idea. While Virginia has fought its way to the lowest unemployment rate in the southeast at 5.5 percent and has seen three years of state budget surpluses, the unprecedented uncertainty caused by Washington’s fiscal policies is making it harder for families, businesses, and the Commonwealth to plan for the future.
And so on.
When combined with this deal on taxes, what we would almost certainly wind up with in almost any deal from here on in is the typical bottom line out of Washington. As all the tax increases happen immediately, the spending cuts are spread out over many years, and are thus fully revocable by future congresses. And the typical excuse will be used: if we cut spending too fast, it could throw the economy back into recession.
Nonsense. The markets and private economy (except for beltway bandits and others feeding at the public trough) will almost certainly respond positively to the first serious move by congress to stanch the bleeding brought on by consistently spending a trillion dollars more than we collect, borrowing promiscuously and passing the bill on to future generations.
But there is a simpler way to frame the ultimate question about cutting the federal behemoth down to size: if not now, when? When exactly will the politicians agree that it’s a good time to reduce the jobs and goodies dished out by the federal government?
The Governor’s letter does not raise this question. It instead urges “the shaping of a responsible legislative alternative to meet our nation’s fiscal crises.”
Vague as his demand is, what the Governor asks for is something the political class has refused to do for decades.
The reality is the sequester is probably the best and only way to get even a smidgen of spending restraint out of Washington, DC. And even with these cuts, the Leviathan will still continue to grow: