The sequester fluster

The sky is falling and we are all doomed because the federal government is being forced to cut spending by one percent.

The mainstream media are all atwitter at this “evisceration” of government programs. They are trying to scare us with the specter of vital programs disappearing or being drastically cut rather than suggesting ways to eliminate waste and wasteful programs. Mostly the sequester is a phantom menace, a manufactured crisis (See here, here, here).

The blame game is in full swing with the administration trying to pin the sequester on Congress and those nasty Republicans while ignoring the fact that the sequester idea came from the White House (see Bob Woodward’s article here).

That being said, there is, nevertheless, a real problem: ever growing federal spending – spending money we don’t have. This is put in perspective by statistician William M. Briggs with the following graph (the two blips are the world wars). See Briggs’ explanatory text here. This amount of spending is ultimately unsustainable and the bubble will burst.



  1. William M. Briggs, “Statistician to the Stars!”????? You certainly find some “interesting” sources to cite. I guess if you dig deep enough you can always find someone who backs up your opinion. Tellingly, he calls every President by name except our current one, who he calls “The One”, who “slouched” his way into the White House. I only went there because your embed of his chart is unreadable. Also, I’d never seen anyone cite Government spending per capita, professional Economists always use the more reliable method of comparing gov’t. spending as a % of GDP. But, even his chart indicates that gov’t. spending, even as per capita, has decreased under President Obama – a point which both you and Briggs fail to acknowledge.

    As for Sequestration,here’s a Talking Points Memo article pointed out that on July 31 2011 Speaker Boehner used a Power Point presentation to sell the Sequestration to his Republican caucus. The slide says “Sets up a new sequestration process to cut spending across the board and ensure that any debt limit increase is me with greater spending cuts.” Two days later Congress overwhelmingly passed the sequestration and John Boehner was saying that he “got 98% of what he wanted”.

    So how is the sequestration Obama’s idea again? Woodward is not infallible.

    1. An independent source comes up with almost the same numbers: “Inflation-adjusted per capita federal spending went up $822.90 from fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2012, according to official data from the U.S. Treasury and the Census Bureau. Real federal spending also increased $2437.64 per household between 2008 and 2012.”

      – See more at:

      And Briggs does present the data as a percent of GDP at

      1. CNSnews is hardly an “independent source:. it is a division of Media Research Group, a right wing media group founded by folks like the Koch brothers to express their opinion, as opposed to facts. And while those “real spending” stats are from the,Treasury, they include Medicare & Social Security outlays. Guess what? Yes, our population continues to age and spending for Soc. Sec. & Medicare continues to increase, but it’s funded by the trust funds that we paid into all of our working lives. So yeah, it’s really spending, but does not contribute to our deficit or debt and has nothing to do with sequestration.

      2. You cannot grow an economy with just spending cuts. Investments are necessary. That is not considered spending because you expect appreciation or gain from them. An austerity program during a recession is a recipe for disaster. The GOP blocked President Obama’s jobs bills. The more people working, the more money goes back into the oconomy. There are 114 Republicans now taking credit for the successes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act who voted against it twice. Paul Krugman supported it but said it didn’t go far enough, which in hindsight turned out to be true.

    1. Atwitter is actually one word. Breaking it into two in this contexty would change the meaning and make no sense.

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