Sequester Reporting Scavenger Hunt: Official Rules

Michael Giberson

Brace yourself, sequester is coming! The news has been filled with horror stories over the pain threatened by the sequester cuts. From the mighty New York Times (“As Governors Meet, White House Outlines Drop in Aid to States“) and Wall Street Journal (“Governors Brace for Sequestration’s Hit to States“) down to a blog hosted at my local newspaper (“Sequestration will cost Texas plenty“), these stories have one thing in common: A lot of emphasis on how modest federal budget cuts will impose outlandish costs, and absolutely no mention that plausible alternatives–increasing taxes, increasing the national debt ever higher–would also impose real economic burdens.

The one alternative to the sequester that does merit brief mention, that Congress actually passes a bill that selectively cuts spending, is widely agreed to be implausible.

Now I’m sure that some reporters are out there doing their job, not just reporting the obvious fact that recipients of federal dollars would rather just keep the money flowing, but also reporting that federal spending itself comes at a cost. But such news reports are rarer than rainbow-colored unicorns these days.

I’m declaring a “Sequester Reporting Scavenger Hunt.”

Rules: If you find a news story emphasizing the pain of sequester budget cuts that also clearly indicates that alternatives such as raising taxes or increasing the national debt also cause pain, you are a winner. Post a link in the comments here to claim your prize.

If you find a news story emphasizing the pain of sequester budget cuts that also quotes someone as indicating the sequester cuts may actually be good for the economy overall, you are a double-bonus winner. Post a link in the comments here to claim your double-bonus prize.

If you have your own blog, you can also win by posting the story to your own blog with a link back to this page. I encourage you to post a comment here, too, to ensure you get your prize.

Note that the scavenger hunt is limited to news stories, not editorial or op-ed comments. Many editorialists seem to think we can squeeze federal spending back to a level not seen since about 2011 without actually forcing half the country into breadlines. Some editorialists are willing to point out that the alternatives to the sequester also will impose costs. News reporters and their editors, on the other hand, apparently can’t find that rare voice.

Prize: All winners will obtain modest improvements in their fiscal education, possibly some gratitude from other readers, and a hearty congratulations from me.

Double-bonus prize winners should list their name in their comment surrounded by extra asterisks like ***this***, or if you prefer use exclamation points like !!!this!!! You get to choose, you’ve earned it!

Ok, now get out there and find those well-done sequester news reports.

They can’t even pull off the ethanol subsidy repeal …

Lynne Kiesling

Although the federal government is actually in a budget crisis and our elected so-called representatives claim to be dealing with it, they are acting rather like they are in denial, or still embroiled in such petty partisan bickering that they refuse to make difficult choices with short-run costs and long-run benefits.

Take ethanol subsidies and tariff protections, on which the KP position for years has been for their elimination on both economic and environmental grounds. Now that even Al Gore admits that they were a mistake and have not delivered on lower emissions, lower use of fossil fuels, lower gasoline prices, and lower oil imports, can’t we finally just vote them off the island?

Apparently not. Yesterday the Senate had an opportunity to end the $6 billion in annual ethanol subsidies, which would take a nice chunk out of the budget deficit and chip away at the national debt; it would also provide a salutary psychological message to the American public that our elected so-called representatives are not as feckless as they appear.

Yet they failed to do so. If they cannot make a decision that is as patently obvious as this one, will they be able to decide on anything that will bring the budget away from the brink? If they can’t end ethanol subsidies, that does not portend well for avoiding default.