Political stupidity in Washington, D.C. is about to come down hard on our local area.
Some economists argue that the sky will fall because of the “sequester,” a budget cut imposed by Congress and signed by the President in 2011 in a move designed to make such blind, across-the-board cuts so painful that they would never be politically feasible, forcing opposing parties in the nation’s fiscal policy debates to compromise.
That was a huge political miscalculation based on the perception that things are as they have ever been. They’re not. Tea Party favorites in Congress don’t fit the old pattern that assumes Republicans will always rally to preserve or boost spending on the military and security. Turns out that doesn’t bother them enough to not accept the cuts in most every other part of government, too, cuts they really do want to make.
The economic sky probably will not fall from sequestration, but the sequester is a means of accomplishing what should be a careful surgery to cut out government waste — with a chainsaw. You’ll get cuts, but it won’t be pretty.
Which brings us to our local dilemma, one presumably repeated across the country, likely to significant economic anti-stimulus effect.
Around here, that means that along with the cuts to our main industry, government, our next best economic engine will get its fuel pump hobbled about three days a week. Grand Coulee Dam is the biggest tourism draw in the eastern part of the state. People want to know about it, see how it works, learn about its effects on the economy, the environment, their lives. The Bureau of Reclamation does that with services it will have to cut back on three days a week if no political compromise is reached by Congress or the Department of Interior doesn’t grant the local project an exemption from a hiring freeze very soon.
That will hurt motels, campgrounds, restaurants and retailers, and everybody else in town who sells anything to them or to their employees, or to the employees of the dam who won’t be working at all, or less.
Imagine this scenario repeated across the nation, then decide whether to call or write your congress on their inability to compromise.
Here are the addresses and phone numbers.