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The Firehouse syndrome

The Firehouse syndrome

Earlier today Prof. Jacobson covered an issue I wanted to get to, Gov’t still controls the sequester pain meter. His argument was:

The “unilateral” “across-the-board” sequester cuts seemingly absolve government of any responsibility.

Actually, the opposite is true. While some decreases in the growth of government are mandated, and government has less flexibility than usual particularly as to the defense budget, government still controls the pain meter.

The key word in the sequester political debate is “could.”

Brit Hume tweeted a related thought:

and it was seconded (and clarified) by Don Surber:

It’s not just that the government gets to apportion the cuts, but it gets to threaten which programs will suffer. I’d like to call it “The Firehouse Syndrome.”

Every time a government claims that it is short of funds and absolutely needs more revenue what do they threaten to shut? The firehouses or some other perceived essential service. Then politicians, bureaucrats and journalists promote this terrible crisis. Government needs more (tax) money or the weakest and most vulnerable in society will suffer!

Lost in this reporting and posturing is why it seems that there never are unnecessary programs that need cutting.

But as George Will pointed out last week in The manufactured crisis of sequester:

Even during this desultory economic recovery, one industry thrives — the manufacture of synthetic hysteria. It is, however, inaccurate to accuse the Hysteric in Chief of crying “Wolf!” about spending cuts under the sequester. He is actually crying “Hamster!”

As in: Batten down the hatches — the sequester will cut $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget! Or: Head for the storm cellar — spending will be cut 2.3 percent! Or: Washington chain-saw massacre — we must scrape by on 97.7 percent of current spending! Or: Chaos is coming because the sequester will cut a sum $25 billion larger than was just shoveled out the door (supposedly, but not actually) for victims of Hurricane Sandy! Or: Heaven forfend, the sequester will cut 47 percent as much as was spent on the AIG bailout! Or: Famine, pestilence and locusts will come when the sequester causes federal spending over 10 years to plummet from $46 trillion all the way down to $44.8 trillion! Or: Grass will grow in the streets of America’s cities if the domestic agencies whose budgets have increased 17 percent under President Obama must endure a 5 percent cut!

If we’re talking about 2.3% of the budget the only way the cuts will be disastrous is if those administering the cuts make sure that they are!

Dan Mitchell tweets (via memeorandum)


The sequestration cuts will barely register on the growth of the government over the next ten years.

So as Instapundit notes:

I assume that the Obama Administration is doing what it can to ensure maximum sequester-pain for voters. Somebody ought to be filing FOIA requests for emails concerning sequester implementation; there’s probably some gold there.

Much of the pain caused by sequestration will be due to cynical political posturing, ensuring that the “firehouse syndrome” comes to pass.


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Being from Connecticut, the sequester reminds me of the closing down of government by then Gov. Lowell Weicker to force the passage of a state income tax.

Weicker closed all the state parks, and had troopers go to state campgrounds at midnight to throw people out by force. He took many other similar actions to create a crisis and to cause “as much pain” as possible to citizens.

He got his income tax and was then awarded the Profile In Courage award by the Kennedy family for using brute force to intimidate the populace.

Our President will be proud if he can be as brutally successful as Wiecker. Threatening to close the Washington Monument, stop social security payments and the like shows he is well on his way.

    And look who’s standing by watching, with his thumb up his you-know-what. I won’t mention names (John Boehner).

    A lunatic like Obama, bent on his leftist mission of madness, will do whatever he wants, until he’s finally stopped. Reminds of someone. I won’t mention names (Hitler).

    The madness isn’t Obama. The madness is letting him run wild unopposed. If you’re a boozing metrosexual in the GOP leadership and can’t figure out how to deal with this guy, move aside and make room for someone who can. (“No! I’m the Speaker! It’s MY hammer!”)

First they came for the bunny inspectors. . . .

What amazes me — aside from the GOP’s pathetic, impotent response — is the lack of alarm and outrage at the sinister ends Obama and the left are seeking to achieve.

Britt Hume and Surber mock the tactics, but they seem oblivious to the sinister ends being sought.

    As Machiavelli once said in his treatise “The Prince”, “The end justifies the means.”

    And Sophocles wrote, “The end excuses any evil”.

    Personally, I don’t care what their justification or ends are, the policies are just historically rotten.

    To which the typical marxist will reply, “but that’s because they didn’t implement their plan correctly”. As if any plan survives contact with the general public (or the enemy, in military terms). They keep repeating the same asinine policies over and over again in hopes that something will change for the better. Isn’t that one definition of Insanity?

      There is definitely a quality of delusion and incredible immaturity to leftist thinking — or any fascist thinking: “it didn’t work that time, but we’ll keep trying till it does.’

      That neurosis reminds me of people who stubbornly continue to engage in serial sexual relationships, despite being miserably unhappy with the result — like the neurotic women in ‘Sex In The City,’ giving themselves sexually to the same loser guys for immediate gratification, then whining about it forever.

      But the stake here is our freedom, not a mere STD horseface’s character might get.

“What amazes me — aside from the GOP’s pathetic, impotent response — is the lack of alarm and outrage at the sinister ends Obama and the left are seeking to achieve.”

I don’t understand. Why are our Republican congress members so quiet about the POW camps that have been set up in just about every state of the union? Where is their outrage over Homeland Security’s massive stockpile of weapons and ammo? Why do so few of them speak out and act while the Democrats work to destroy our 2nd amendment rights?
Et tu Repulicane?

oops! Republicane?

Here’s what gets me. Most “regular people” — those earning a paycheck / working within a household budget / running a small business — mostly always want/need more money.

But when you don’t have it, you figure out how to cope.

You try to make the best decisions possible to maximize survival — let alone comfort — for yourself and your charges.

So what’s with the prez and his minions who try to figure out how to stick it to his charges — us — for maximum suffering?!

He’s not just a bad exec / bad partner / bad manager … he’s kind of a psycho sadist.

Why do “regular people” accept the disconnect between our ordinary experience and this insufferable abuse?

    It’s refreshing to see people here start using language like ‘he’s kind of a psycho sadist.’

    Obama is at the top of a fascist movement. I challenge anyone — ANYONE — to name a nation under fascist rule (with the likes of the Obama czars in it) where ‘psychotic sadism’ did not occur.

    It’s easy to spend other people’s money and then get credit for being so munificent. It’s easy to pretend to be an Indian and then to leverage that lie for advantage. It is easy to ban guns and allow the bad guys to rule (both on the street and in office). What’s not easy is what Americans do on a day to day basis to make ends meet after Federal and State taxes, regulations, parking meters, sales taxes, RE taxes, estate taxes, onerous corporation taxes, IRS tax codes…

    We all pay a huge price when politicians use us for their own political ends.

Another member of the federal aristocracy, Janet Napolitano, is playing her part by gutting the Border Patrol in her sequestration plan, then warning about how it affects national security.

    Bruno Lesky in reply to Velcro. | February 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

    I like what you wrote!

    Please read and like and/or comment on the other posters. Or dislike if you please. Thanks.

I’d like to sequester all 2013 “aid” to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Green Energy-istan until 2050.

They can’t find anything to cut. Why? The reason is simple, government is alive. It is a beast that will feast on anything in order to save itself one more day. To expect it to cut back is foolish. Here is one area that could be easily eliminated but instead has a million dollar a year govt boss.

These guys have a great money laundering set up going over there. One guy is in charge of the board of the company that oversees the govt agency he heads- of a mill a year.

Meanwhile as these idiots waste money getting nowhere, some eggheads over at UCLA may have just broken through into the next big leap in energy.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | February 26, 2013 at 9:52 am

The government is worse than the mob. While they both use coercion, the mob’s use of coercion is illegal. The government’s use of coercion is legal.

If you balk at paying the required tribute to the mob, they threaten to inflict pain until you change your mind. If you don’t pay the tribute to government, they promise to cut government services and make your life as miserable as possible until you finally pay up. At least the mob has to compete with rival gangs to squeeze you. The government has a monopoly on coercion it uses to squeeze you.

This is not new. It’s why the Founders wanted a very limited government. They correctly understood that short of revolution the only check on government expansion and corruption that citizens have is their vote. And that vote has essentially been bought. When a charlatan can win re-election by promising the bottom 50% of the population that he will not raise their taxes but if they vote for him he will raise the taxes on the top 2%, the vote of the bottom 50% has been bought. The vote no longer serves its function as a a check on government.

We, or rather our countrymen who vote Democrat, have created a monster.

I’m sure the President will claim that since he didn’t actually sign the sequester bill, but rather the White House used an Auto-Pen, that he is somehow not responsible for what is in the bill.

Using this tact only indicates that none of the problems we have today are because of President Obama because he has done absolutely nothing .. and deserves no credit nor blame .. making him Pres**ent Obama.

[…] takes effect this Friday the Republican strategy should be to point out that instead of the ‘maximum pain to the public’ cuts implemented by Barack Obama (as Charles Krauthammer has correctly analyzed) Obama should have […]