Political gamesmanship is nothing new, in particular during election years. This past year, however, has seen a particularly irrational and potentially devastating version with the sequestration drama unfolding on the horizon. Both political parties are pointing fingers and blaming the other side for its inception and the failure to resolve the underlying issue of government spending, taxes and priorities.
Sequestration has mostly been discussed as devastating cuts to military spending. What hasn’t been covered are other areas that will be affected should the two sides fail to come to an agreement. Norm Dicks, a Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, wrote a “Dear Colleagues” letter to warn that in addition to 9.4% cuts to discretionary defense and 8.2% cuts to discretionary non- defense spending, there is an additional 1.9 % cut that will take place due to the failure of the joint select committee to reach an agreement. Mr. Dicks states that in the event that this happens, the Congressional Budget Office will revise their forecast of steady growth in 2013 to a recession with a 9.1% unemployment rate and an estimated 1.4 million jobs lost.
So where will these job losses occur? Although this is by no means the full complement of jobs threatened, in Homeland Security, 3,400 Border Patrol agents and 3,400 Customs and Border Protection officers will be laid off, further weakening an already porous and dangerous border situation. In the Department of Justice, 3000 FBI, DEA, ATF and U.S. Marshalls would be laid off and the remainder furloughed for 25 days. In Corrections, a 10% reduction in Corrections officers and a 30 day furlough for remaining staff. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
What makes this situation particularly infuriating is reviewing the report by the GAO, Government Accountability Office, on duplication and waste in government spending requested by Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma. In one single example, the Agriculture Department paid $1.1 Billion in farm subsidies to 170,000 dead people. Senator Coburn has uncovered numerous examples of duplication, waste and outright fraud across multiple agencies and programs administered by the Federal government. The question comes to mind about how much of the mess involved in sequestration could be dealt with simply by reviewing where the funds are actually being spent and whether the programs receiving the money were actually performing their designated functions effectively.
These political games remind me of the same games played between the Sheriff and the County Commissioners when I was a deputy. Invariably, pink slips would be sent out over budgeting disagreements, there would be panic by those affected, as well as the community applying political pressure, leading to one side or the other blinking in the game of chicken being played. What gets lost in the shuffle, is that flesh and blood people with families to feed are shamelessly used as pawns by politicians who cannot distinguish between a “need” and a “want” or appropriately prioritize government obligations. Instead it has become a venue to reward campaign contributions, the politically connected and caving to special interest groups at the expense of legitimate government functions.
To say that I have a dim view of the leadership in both parties and the White House, the Senate and House leadership would be a massive understatement. As a result of this exercise in insanity, there will be many challenges that will arise as a result of the sequestration should it occur. Although most people believe this is unlikely to occur, the fact that the country has been placed into this position in the first place does not give confidence that the solution will be any more rational than the sequestration deal was. Citizens and the law enforcement community at all levels will be faced with developing creative solutions to deal with the fallout from the decisions being made by political games, which will hopefully include new leadership at the federal level in both parties.
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Juli Adcock began her career in law enforcement with the Escambia County Florida Sheriff’s Office as a patrol deputy until she was injured in a riot situation. She transferred to Judicial Security and retired in 1998. Juli pursued career advancement training with an emphasis on officer survival, interviews and interrogation. She worked with a local Rape Crisis Center and in victim’s advocacy, complementing her college course work in psychology. She currently resides in New Mexico and is an instructor with The Appleseed Project (www.appleseedinfo.org). The Appleseed Project is a rifle marksmanship clinic teaching the fundamentals of firing an accurate round downrange every 3 to 4 seconds, out to 500 yards, as well as American history. She has trained military personnel at White Sands Missile Range who are certifying as Squad Designated Marksmen. Juli instructs basic handgun skills to new gun owners in preparation for responsible personal gun ownership and the Concealed Carry class for the State of New Mexico. She can be reached at [email protected] or through Law Enforcement Today.