Friday February 22, 2013
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The other day, the President railed against Congressional (read: Republican) inaction on averting the sequester by giving a speech while surrounded by uniformed policemen. The picture was designed to make the point that if the automatic cuts go into effect, people across the country will lose police protection.
Back when mules were the principal form of transportation, I was a member of the City Council of Marietta, Ohio 45750. One of my committee assignments was as chairman of the Police and Fire Committee.
It came to pass that the city firemen wanted a raise that would put them at more-or-less parity with the city policemen. I'm not certain how it works now, but at the time the firefighters worked 24 hours on and 48 hours off, meaning many of them had part time jobs that the cops - who worked regular 8-hour shifts - did not have the opportunity to hold.
I have mentioned to you on other occasions that Al Gore and I have something in common. If we've told a story often enough, for long enough, we believe it actually happened - whether or not we made it up in the first place.
This might be one of those, but the point is, nonetheless, valid.
The firemen came to the committee with a budget that showed if we did not increase the amount of money we allocated to fire and rescue activities they would have to cease providing ambulance services to the good people of Marietta.
I'm not that good at arithmetic, but I'm pretty good at reading a budget. As I remember it, there was a line-item to re-surface the pool tables in the fire stations, the firefighters having had to play pool on worn-out felt for who knows how many years.
I suggested that, rather than eliminating ambulance services as the first place to save money, perhaps we could eliminate the re-felting of the pool tables and see where that left us.
I'm not certain how it all came out, but I do know the citizenry did not have to walk to the hospital when sick or injured.
That's approximately the same negotiating tactic the President used the other day. And it's not far from what the Pentagon and other Departments and Agencies are claiming they will have to do.
After Wednesday's column, (See - Seekwes - Sequestration) I received a number of heartfelt and touching emails detailing how the sequester would do real harm to real people.
Civilian employees of the Department of Defense would be furloughed one day a week - meaning their income would be cut by 20 percent for the rest of the year.
I think we can all agree that cutting our pay by a fifth would result in real hardship in most of our households.
But, civilian employees of the DoD do not a poignant picture make. Uniformed personnel, now they tell a story.
As we discussed on Wednesday, the whole $85 billion in cuts don't have to be delivered next Friday. Assuming no agreement over the next seven months, they would be spread out through the rest of the fiscal year ending on September 30.
But, there will be an agreement. Probably not by next week even though the President has the Constitutional authority to call the Congress back to Washington from its well-deserved vacation.
Article II, section 3 of the Constitution provides that the President "may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them."
I believe the last time that happened was in 1948 when Harry Truman brought them back to consider domestic legislation.
President Obama won't do that. National polls indicate the GOP will be blamed for any sequester so he is perfectly happy to engage in his permanent campaign and, to resurrect the infamous statement by Obama's first Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, "never let a good crisis go to waste."
Real people will suffer real harm, but they don't make for emotional photo ops - moving pictures, so to speak - so, March 1 will come and go without any leadership being employed by Barack Obama.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to a Senate re-cap of the number of times a President has called the Congress back into session. Also a Mullfoto from my office looking down on a demonstration earlier this week.
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