[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Partly cloudy
Partly cloudy
80°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 24
1864 - Walker/Reynier family patriarch Jean Joseph Reynier, then 15, arrives in Sand Canyon from France; eventually homesteads 1,200 acres [story]


The Rational Center | Commentary by John Zaring
| Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013

johnzaring2012With a near party-line vote Tuesday of 58-41, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel was finally confirmed by the U.S. Senate to succeed Leon Panetta as the United States’ next defense secretary.

In the end, only four of Hagel’s 47 fellow Republican colleagues voted for his confirmation, so essentially it took a plurality of Senate Democrats to install a two-term Republican senator into President Obama’s cabinet.

On Wednesday morning, when Hagel walks into the Pentagon, he’ll do so with shrapnel still lodged in his chest from his service as an Army infantryman in Vietnam. It will probably hurt less than the confirmation process he just survived.

Hagel’s hearings provide a perfect illustration of what’s wrong with politics today. This “party before country” mantra not only delayed Hagel’s nomination; it has also paralyzed Congress, divided Americans, and delayed America’s recovery from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

And it’s just a warm-up to this Friday’s sequestration ax.

In anticipation, President Obama has been criss-crossing t he United States for several weeks to explain why the blunt cuts of sequestration are bad for everyone. Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that senators should “get off their asses” and pass something, which prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to say, “It isn’t our chamber that needs to get off of its posterior.”

The heart of the divide is the president’s desire to eliminate loopholes in the tax code – things like deductions for private jets and yachts for billionaires, and unnecessary tax breaks for companies like Exxon and Chevron that are earning record profits – in order to add some revenue to the cuts, something Republicans refuse to grant.

For weeks, Obama has been personalizing the pain in an attempt to convince Americans to pick up the phone and call their congressional representatives to say, “Hey idiot, do something.” Many others in his administration have taken to the airwaves, as well, warning of the potential consequences of the meat-cleaver approach of sequestration – from Attorney General Eric Holder warning that Americans will be less safe, to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (a Republican, by the way), warning that lines will be longer at the airports and waits will be longer on the runway because there will be fewer TSA agents and air traffic controllers on the job, perhaps even resulting in less safe skies. Even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff went before Congress to warn that sequestration will negatively affect military readiness.

Still, while everyone in Washington expects the sequester to happen, immediate pain won’t come Friday or Saturday or even next Monday. Social Security won’t be touched. The Veteran’s Administration and military pay won’t be touched. Medicare and Medicaid won’t be touched. These politically explosive issues are protected because that’s not discretionary spending, so essentially the president is just trying to remind everyone that Congress is a dysfunctional group that will end up hurting middle-class Americans because they can’t handle their business.

The president is gaming this out politically in anticipation of the next looming crisis, a battle over funding the federal government, which will happen in just weeks. The president and leaders of both parties know they have a week or two to work it out before any real pain begins, and Republicans are gambling they can withstand a loss of the PR war in order to exact deep cuts to social programs they so despise.

The current political calculus is that everyone is going to suffer a little pain and bleeding before a compromise can be worked out. So, prepare to bleed.

There are some federal programs that will start losing funds on Friday – the beginning of an $85 billion reduction over a seven-month period. The first to feel it will be the 2 million Americans who are currently receiving long-term unemployment benefits, as their benefits will be cut by up to 9.4 percent, and each recipient could lose more than $400 in benefits. When they start seeing less in their checks will depend upon how long it takes their states to reprogram their computers, but given that the cuts will be retroactive to March 1, the pain is coming.

Unless Congress crafts a deal, over the next few months, damaging cuts to the social safety net will also take effect. Up to 70,000 people will be prevented from entering Head Start; there will be 4 million fewer home-delivered meals for senior citizens; and up to 300,000 women and children will lose federally funded food aid. Forced spending cuts will also cost jobs, with 2.1 million federal workers furloughed and 46,000 temporary or contract workers losing their federal jobs.

Meanwhile, Sec. Hagel will need to take command immediately and guide the Pentagon through $46 billion in cuts. A total of 800,000 workers are anticipated to be furloughed, and states reliant on the defense industry will experience even greater impact. Here in California, 64,000 civilian defense employees are facing furloughs, second only to Virginia, where 90,000 jobs will be lost.

On Monday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress that sequestration will reduce the still-sluggish U.S. economy by up to 0.6 percent and as a result, the slowing recovery will lead to less deficit reduction.

Even if we assume some of this is just “the sky is falling” exaggeration, I think almost everyone can agree that absolutely none of this actually needs to happen.

For Americans in the Rational Center, that’s the most frustrating part. We’re sick and tired of watching Congress lurch from crisis to crisis to crisis, none of which are real, and as a result, we are all left feeling disgusted by Washington. Of course, our votes sent these morons there, so I guess we can’t complain too much, right?

A recent Pew Research Poll showed 45 percent of Americans blame Republicans in Congress for this mess, while 32 percent blame the president and 13 blame both equally. Knowing that the American people are largely on his side, President Obama spoke Tuesday to workers at a naval shipyard in Newport News, Va., and chastised Congress for taking what he called “the dumb approach.”

But seeing blood in the water, this time he went even further and singled out Republicans in Congress for their constant obstructionism, their unwillingness to compromise even one little bit, for putting party before country. Said Obama: “I’ve run my last election. I’m not interested in spin. I’m not interested in playing a blame game. At this point, all I’m interested in is solving problems.”

Too bad there aren’t more adults in Washington he can work with.

John Zaring describes himself as a reformed Republican turned moderate Democrat who believes democracy works best when its government actually functions because its leaders are working together. He serves on the Castaic Area Town Council’s Land Use Committee, Castaic Middle School’s Site Council, the Hart District’s WiSH Education Foundation, and he is the West Ranch High School representative on the Hart District’s Advisory Council. A self-proclaimed “New Democrat” a la Bill Clinton, he lives in Castaic with his wife of 21 years and their daughters, Fiona, 16, and Kylie, 12. His commentary publishes Tuesdays.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Friday, Jul 19, 2019
The Valley Industry Association’s Advocacy Committee has been in hot pursuit following the changes, amendments and carve-outs of Assembly Bill 5, which passed the California Assembly floor on May 29, and the Senate’s Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee on July 10.
Monday, Jul 15, 2019
Before you travel abroad this summer, keep in mind that Medicare usually does not cover health care services or supplies while you’re traveling outside the United States.
Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019
California Supreme Court weighs in on the question of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.
Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019
When was the last time you checked your emergency kit, stocked up on water or practiced your family emergency plan?
Monday, Jul 1, 2019
Patriotism and love for our country run deep in our city. These sentiments are proudly displayed in the many Fourth of July celebrations that take place throughout the day.
Friday, Jun 21, 2019
The relationship between workers and the companies that hire them has undergone a sea change in the past 15 months, at least in California.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1864 - Walker/Reynier family patriarch Jean Joseph Reynier, then 15, arrives in Sand Canyon from France; eventually homesteads 1,200 acres [story]
You’re invited to attend the Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library “Half-Price Huge Book Sale” event at the Valencia Library on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for a chance to discover some great summer reads at a bargain price.
Aug. 17: Friends of Santa Clarita Public Library Book Sale
Get ready for Queen Nation to rock your world on Saturday, July 27. The Queen tribute band will perform during this year’s Concerts in the Park series, presented by Logix Federal Credit Union.
Queen Tribute Band to Rock You at Concerts in the Park
College of the Canyons is the only community college selected to participate in the Bringing Theory to Practice’s (BTtoP) Partnerships for Listening and Action by Communities and Educators (PLACE) initiative, a collaborative network of academic-community partnerships focused on civic-engagement and public-humanities work.
COC Only Community College Selected to Participate in PLACE Initiative
The Los Angeles County Health Officer has issued a Heat Advisory for Wednesday, July 24, as high temperatures (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) have been forecast for the following areas: - Santa Clarita Valley - San Fernando Valley - San Gabriel Valley
Heat Advisory Issued for SCV Wednesday
HazMat crews were called to the suspected illegal dumping of a corrosive material in Castaic on Tuesday morning.
HazMat Crews Respond to Possible Corrosive Material in Castaic
The SCV Chamber is proud to announce it will host a Current Affairs Forum with special guest, U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, D-Agua Dulce.
July 30: Current Affairs Forum with U.S. Rep. Katie Hill
The California Enterprise Development Authority will hold a teleconference meeting Thursday, July 25, at 10:30 a.m.
July 25: California Enterprise Development Authority Teleconference Meeting
(CN) – Concentrations of fine particulate matter in U.S. skies lead to thousands of deaths annually and have shortened life expectancy despite efforts to curb pollution, a study found Tuesday.
Air Pollution Linked to LA County’s Largest Drop in Life Expectancy
Downtown Newhall’s brightest new star, the Newhall Press Room wine bar and restaurant, was recently presented with a very enviable honor: Wine Spectator magazine’s Award of Excellence.
Newhall Press Room Honored with Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence
U.S. Air Force Airman Lean Lukas G. Aguilar graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.
Saugus High Alumnus Graduates from Basic Military Training
Palmdale Sheriff’s Station deputies patrolling Monday night responded quickly to sounds of gunshots in an Acton neighborhood and discovered a resident shooting at a snake.
Deputies Respond to Rattlesnake-Related Gunshots in Acton
1982 - Vic Morrow & two child actors killed in helicopter crash at Indian Dunes during filming of "Twilight Zone: The Movie" [story]
Twilight Zone Movie
Veronica Alvarez, Ed.D., began her tenure last week as CalArts' new director of the Community Arts Partnership Program, or CAP, which offers free after-school and school-based arts programs for youth ages 4-18.
Alvarez Brings Arts Education, Commitment to Social Justice to CAP
The Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation is offering a new jobs resource for SCV companies -- LiveWorkSCV.com, a comprehensive, highly visible job board that matches SCV career opportunities with SCV residents who want a job closer to home.
LiveWorkSCV – New Jobs Resource for Local Employers
FBI agents searched the headquarters of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on Monday morning as part of an ongoing investigation.
FBI Raids Los Angeles DWP, City Attorney Offices
Tickets are on sale and sponsorships are still available for the nonprofit WiSH Foundation's fifth annual "Cocktails on the Roof" fundraiser for Hart District schools at the Westfield Valencia Town Center Mall on Friday, Sept. 6.
Sept. 6: ‘Cocktails on the Roof’ Fundraiser
Taylor Snyder (pictured above) blasted a three-run home run in the fifth inning to help the JetHawks to a 7-2 win over the San Jose Giants on Monday afternoon at Excite Ballpark.
Snyder Homers, JetHawks Topple Giants Monday
Amar A. Singh, a Los Angeles man, was arrested Friday on suspicion of child cruelty for allegedly kicking the 2-year-old son of his friends while attending a party at the couple's Canyon Country residence.
Family Friend Accused of Kicking Couple’s Toddler
The Placerita Canyon Nature Center opened its doors to Nikki Dail on Sunday to talk about her travels through Belize.
NCA Board Member Talks About Her Journey Through Belize
A shoplifting suspect was also arrested on a felony drug possession charge after deputies allegedly discovered narcotics on him at the Sheriff’s Station.
Shoplifting Suspect Charged with Felony Drug Possession
The city of Santa Clarita and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works will co-host a pair of advanced Smart Gardening Workshops at two local Santa Clarita Library branches in August and September.
City Libraries to Host Smart Gardening Workshops
Taylor Snyder went deep in his second straight game, and Lucas Gilbreath set a season-high for strikeouts, but the JetHawks fell to the San Jose Giants, 4-3, on Sunday evening in San Jose.
Gilbreath Strikeouts Hit Season High in JetHawks Loss
TV series, reality shows and music videos are among the productions now filming in the Santa Clarita Valley aka “Hollywood North” the week of July 22-28.
Now Filming in SCV: TV Series, Reality Shows, Music Videos
%d bloggers like this: