Slightly over a year ago, Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA) despite strong opposition by Tea Party Patriots and other grassroots organizations. As activists know, the Act “cut” $2.1 trillion over a ten year period in exchange for lifting the federal debt ceiling – or, put another way, gave the President permission to increase the debt by over $2 trillion in exchange for “cutting” less than 5% of spending over the next decade.
In addition to being a poorly-crafted piece of legislation both philosophically and as related to the breadth of our fiscal problems, the way the BCA made its “cuts” are problematic. Rather than target specific programs for elimination or reform, or look at eliminating the high levels of fraud and waste in the federal government, or do anything to make Social Security and Medicare solvent, the Act simply threw up a random number and said cuts would have to fit into that number. While this would be a good policy if, say, a principled Tea Partier were in charge of the cuts, right now the office in charge of the cuts is the Office of Management & Budget, AKA the President’s accountants.
Unfortunately, these accountants have failed to uphold their legal duty. About a month ago, Congress passed (and the President signed) the Sequestration Transparency Act. This Act required the President to outline exactly how the BCA cuts going into effect in 2013 would impact the various departments it is targeting, especially the Defense Department. As is typical of the federal government, it has missed the deadline stipulated in the Act.
Of course, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says we should not worry; the specific cuts will be outlined this week for the public to see. The Tea Party Patriots certainly hope this is true, and will be putting as much pressure for this transparency as possible. While we stand strong in our opposition to the BCA and its terrible policy implications, we also believe in following the law, and the Transparency Act is law. It would behoove the President to remember this, especially since he signed it.