Opinion: Sequester illustrates rampant problems in Washington

Ava Gallagher

The recently-imposed Sequester has halted any and all progress in the nation's capital.

Washington’s automatic spending cuts went into effect as of Mar. 1, as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress refused to negotiate. They instead decided that a plan set forth to facilitate compromise is instead a viable option for the future. The sequester, as many are calling it, has not yet bared its teeth to the general public, but it most assuredly will soon. By Sept. 30, the full effects of this terrible decision-making should be imminent, as it is the end of the fiscal year and thus the deadline for all federal programs to cut their spending as apportioned by the bill. Even before its taken effect, the sequester has caused economic downfall, as it contributed to a 1.3% decline in the GDP during the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year.

Looking forward, these negative trends should only continue. Over 31,000 teachers will have to be laid off, significantly hampering the public education that was promised such an uplift during the election season. Without those teachers, classrooms throughout the nation will continue to be overpopulated and will not achieve at their highest potential. In other areas, FEMA will have to cut up to $1 billion out of their budget. How is this in any way wise? Freakishly devastating storms have been more and more common recently, and are not predicted to decline any time soon. The East Coast has been battered with blizzards this winter, not to mention the Frankenstorm of earlier. Without FEMA, an extremely vital part of American culture and American economy would not have rebounded so quickly and voraciously.

The sequester calls for equal cuts in both domestic and defense spending. Because of that, the Defense budget will now be reduced $500 billion in the next 10 years. This seems to contrast with this nation’s mantra of having the greatest military on Earth. And while military and defense spending cuts are necessary, they need to be much more streamlined and efficient, instead of a massive overhaul of the program. There are many extremely important services provided through Defense spending that will now not be able to uphold American security to the utmost, and with the rise of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other militant terrorist groups once again in the Middle East, American security must be at its height instead of being reduced.

The blame for this sequester lies squarely in the laps of both parties. Neither party was willing to budge, and thus plunged the country into a dangerously narrow and winding road. The sequester was designed in 2011 to force the parties into a compromise to avoid the massive, unilateral cuts that it proposed. It was never designed to act as a true solution. But it seems as if Congress is too mired in its own political stagnation to care about the rest of American society.