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

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Clear
Clear
72°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
April 22
1974 - Gov. Ronald Reagan speaks at dedication of COC's first permanent building, the William G. Bonelli Instructional Resource Center [story]
Ronald Reagan


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
Monday, Apr 22, 2019
Currently, 32% of inmates in our custody have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. The Sheriff’s Department fully supports all efforts to divert more mentally ill inmates from a custodial environment to community based mental health support programs.
Monday, Apr 15, 2019
Congress created the job of Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman to assist people with Medicare with their inquiries, complaints, grievances, appeals, and requests for information.
Thursday, Apr 4, 2019
Welcome All to the Saugus Union School District State of the District Series.
Tuesday, Apr 2, 2019
Some of my favorite memories are of exploring our City’s trails and paseos on bike or foot with my children.
Monday, Apr 1, 2019
In her April 2019 column, Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean invites the community to attend the city's 26th Cowboy Festival the weekend of April 13-14 at Hart Park and nearby venues in Old Town Newhall.
Friday, Mar 15, 2019
Medicare covers a wide variety of shots to help you stay healthy. It also covers numerous tests to help detect diseases early, when they’re in their most treatable stages.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
This week, Los Angeles County Probation Child Welfare officials launched “Fostering Home,” a creative advertising campaign urging L.A. residents to open their homes and hearts to one of the area’s thousands of children and teens in need.
Probation Child Welfare Partners to Launch Multimedia Foster Parent Recruitment Campaign
Here's a roundup of film and television productions filming in the Santa Clarita Valley aka "Hollywood North" for the week of April 22-28, 2019:
‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Straight Up Steve Austin,’ ‘Goliath’ Now Filming in SCV
Senate Bill 53 (SB 53), a measure to ensure transparency for state agencies, has unanimously passed the Senate Floor, Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, representing the 21st Senate District, announced Monday.
Wilk Meetings Transparency Bill Clears State Senate, Heads to Assembly
Given widespread outbreaks in the United States and internationally, and locally acquired cases, the chance of exposure to measles is increased at this time, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said Monday.
LA County Health Officials Investigate Measles Outbreak
Currently, 32% of inmates in our custody have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. The Sheriff’s Department fully supports all efforts to divert more mentally ill inmates from a custodial environment to community based mental health support programs.
Transitioning Mentally Ill from Custody to Community
At the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, California, Friday, TMU freshman Arianna Ghiorso patiently remained behind the leaders for the first three laps. Then, at the bell, she made her move.
TMU Track Excels in Final Tune-Up Before GSAC Championships
In Thursday's eighth inning, with the score doing more to weary the home fans than relentless afternoon sun, Roy Verdejo provided a reprieve.
Late Rally Lifts Mustangs to Win Over Bethesda
The Master's University and Arizona Christian, both in the hunt for the Golden State Athletic Conference title, met at Herwaldt Stadium Wednesday to finish two games originally scheduled for completion in late February.
Mustang Baseball Splits with First-Place Arizona Christian
The College of the Canyons men's and women's soccer programs invite former players, coaches and supporters to attend the first COC Soccer Alumni Weekend, set for Friday and Saturday, April 26-27 at the Valencia campus.
April 26-27: COC Soccer Alumni Weekend at Valencia Campus
Looking to amp up the level of competition heading into the final stretch of the collegiate track & field season, College of the Canyons took a small contingent of athletes to compete at the recent UCLA Rafer Johnson /Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational at Drake Stadium.
Cougar Contingent Excels at UCLA Rafer Johnson Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invite
Following a coaching career of nearly 50 years within the Santa Clarita Valley, Hart High School head swimming coach Steve Neale recently announced his plans to retire after the 2019 season.
Hart High Head Swim Coach Steve Neale to Retire
Senate Bill 153, a measure designed to ensure California is well-positioned to begin the cultivation of industrial hemp, has unanimously cleared the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, representing the 21st Senate District, said Monday.
Wilk Bill to Expand Opportunities for State Hemp Industry Clears Key Committee
The Los Angeles County Civilian Oversight Commission for the LA County Sheriff's Department will take possible action regarding secret deputy sub-groups and immigration policies at its next monthly public meeting on Downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
April 23: LA County Civilian Oversight Commission Meeting
The city of Santa Clarita and the American Red Cross invite residents to help someone in need by donating blood at one of two city locations — the Old Town Newhall Library and City Hall — on Friday, April 26.
April 26: City, Red Cross Team to Host Community Blood Drive
Super Jazz at the Ranch, a daylong jazz festival hosted by West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch, is happening Saturday, May 18, starting at 9 a.m.
May 18: Super Jazz at The Ranch to Swing West Ranch High
The College of the Canyons Theatre Department will present its production of “Bright Star: A New Musical” at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center from April 26 through May 5.
April 26: COC Theatre to Premiere ‘Bright Star: A New Musical’
Ramon Marcelino tied for the league-lead with his fifth home run of the season, but the JetHawks fell to the Visalia Rawhide, 7-3, on Saturday night at Recreation Park.
Lancaster JetHawks Swept in Visalia
Casey Golden hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, but it was too little and much too late in the Lancaster JetHawks' 13-4 loss to the Visalia Rawhide on Friday night at Recreation Ballpark.
Golden Slam Highlights JetHawks’ Tough Friday
The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is set for Tuesday, April 23, starting at 9:30 a.m.
April 23: LA County Board of Supervisors Meeting
College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook has been named the 2018 Community College Public Relations Organization PROmoter of the Year in recognition of her longstanding support of community colleges and the coordinated efforts of the College of the Canyons District Communications Office.
COC Chancellor Van Hook Named CCPRO PROmoter of the Year
Night-time traffic on Golden Valley Road will see lane closures beginning Monday, as work crews begin laying pipe for the new Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
Construction to Begin on Pipelines for New SCV Sheriff’s Station
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested seven people last week suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, station officials reported Sunday.
SCV Deputies Arrest 7 DUI Suspects
LA Crime Stoppers tips from citizens led to a probation sweep and patrol operations that resulted in several arrests in the Santa Clarita Valley Thursday night.
LA Crime Stoppers Tips from Citizens Lead to 5 Arrests in SCV
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed five additional cases of virulent Newcastle disease in Riverside and San Bernardino counties during the week of April 12-18.
Officials ID 5 More Cases of Newcastle Disease in SoCal
1974 - Gov. Ronald Reagan speaks at dedication of COC's first permanent building, the William G. Bonelli Instructional Resource Center [story]
Ronald Reagan
1994 - Valencia Mercedes co-owner Eddie Murray sets MLB record for switch-hit home runs in games (11 times) [story]
Eddie Murray
1874 - First train out of L.A. to reach new town of San Fernando; Newhall 2 years later [story]
train tunnel
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, April 23, starting at 6 p.m.
April 23: Santa Clarita City Council Regular Meeting
Carlos Herrera’s ninth-inning home run brought the JetHawks within a run, but they ultimately fell, 5-4, to the Visalia Rawhide on Thursday night at Recreation Ballpark.
Herrera Homers Late but JetHawks Fall Short
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department continues to remind everyone that driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime and will bring the same result as driving under the influence of alcohol.
LASD: ‘Drive Baked, Get Booked’ on 4-20 or Any Other Day
Three men were cited for public consumption of alcohol near the Jan Heidt Metrolink station in Newhall late Friday afternoon, according to Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station officials.
SCV Deputies Cite 3 for Public Drinking in Newhall
John Zeretzke, a music teacher from Ventura County who taught music lessons in schools and other organizations throughout Southern California, including Saugus Union School District schools, has been indicted on charges of committing lewd acts against five minors, none believed to be SUSD students.
Music Teacher John Zeretzke Charged with Lewd Acts Against Minors
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office decided to not file formal charges against the alleged parties in a criminal complaint filed by Saugus Union School District board member David Barlavi.
DA Declines to File Charges in School Board Member Threat Case
Fire Department officials handled a car fire that turned into a quarter-acre blaze on the side of Highway 14 in the southbound lanes near Golden Valley Road in Canyon Country on Friday afternoon.
Firefighters Douse Small Brush Fire off Highway 14
The Saugus Union School District board of trustees approved the reduced hours for 37 positions and the layoffs of four others on Tuesday.
SUSD Board OK’s 4 Layoffs, Cuts Hours of 37 Employees
A husband and wife who chained, tortured and starved their children for several years in their suburban Southern California home were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Friday, but not before hearing their children still pray for them.
‘House of Horrors’ Case Ends With Parents Getting 25 to Life