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Making the most of government shutdowns

 

We’ve seen the headlines ... White House Tours Canceled ... Border Patrols Cut ... Airport Control Towers Closed ... Long Lines at Airports ... Real Crisis Coming ... .

All these dire predictions were expected to come true as a result of the inability of Congress and the president to agree on the budget. This activated automatic spending cuts known as “sequestration,” and President Barack Obama continued to predict immediate, drastic, and hurtful cuts as a result.

When the pain was not immediately apparent, the predictions switched from immediate cuts to cuts that would gradually be felt. From ABC news: “... the pain from reduced government services and furloughs of tens of thousands of federal employees would be felt gradually in the weeks ahead.”

We were told to expect teachers, firefighters and policemen, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education, all to be adversely affected. “People are going to be hurt,” Obama said.

Indeed, we have begun to experience some of the pain, but we can’t help but think that specific cuts were carefully orchestrated in order to reach the heart of Americans who may not be fully informed. The administration is cutting where the average American will feel it most, creating its own crisis by first cutting programs closest to the people.

Like canceling White House tours just as families were planning their spring vacations.

Meanwhile, Homeland Security released some 2,000 federal prisoners, blaming it on sequestration. The release occurred prior to the March 1 sequestration, but was not announced until later.

In truth, the cuts in the projected growth of budget items amounted to $85 billion. Whether these cuts were immediate as the president predicted or would occur over time, there are ways they could have been prevented.

Let’s examine a few.

The USDA has $1.33 billion in taxpayer funds for “cash awards” ready to give “eligible Hispanic and women farmers” who were discriminated against in obtaining farm loans. So desperate are they to dispense this money that they are practically begging claimants to register their claims.

In a campaign similar to the one used a few months ago to promote the increased use of food stamps, the USDA is using mail, media, and community advocacy groups to reach those eligible to receive money. There are print, video, and audio outreach messages in English and Spanish on its website.

They have been trying to award these funds for at least two years, and takers are few. Perhaps some of this $1.3 billion could help fund the White House tours?

Or what about canceling some of the president’s golf outings and private lessons, the First Lady’s birthday bash, or some of the Obama kids’ vacations?

These are just a couple of ideas off the top of my head, if anyone were interested in actually preventing taxpayer pain. Obviously, there is no real interest in preventing shutdowns. Instead, the administration is making the most of this latest crisis.

 
 
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