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February 28, 2013
Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

At the risk of sounding like an extremist, I'm going to lay an idea out for your consideration.

For the last few weeks, the new catchphrase coming out of our nation's capital has been "Sequester." Now, I admit, for a long time, I thought a sequester was what was done to a jury in a trial, keeping them in a hotel, away from outside influences, while they deliberated a verdict.

Alas, time has passed me by on that one, apparently.

Anyhow, all we've heard over the last few weeks is how if a deal isn't reached by our federal lawmakers by today, (Thursday, Feb. 28) then $85 million in across-the-board spending cuts will kick in on Friday, March 1. Those cuts lead to a total of $1 trillion in cuts scheduled to go into effect over the next 10 years.

Getting to this point has been the typical "they said and we said" argument in Congress. At this point, it really doesn't seem relevant to figure out whose fault it is, rather, it should be a concentrated effort to avoid the problem. But then, that all just rolls right back around into the same old "they said and we said" game that our Washington politicians play day in and day out.

I read a great question and answer piece on what the sequester was all about last week online by the New York Times, which explained a lot of the how and why of the whole mess. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, just like a lot of the political gridlock that seems to have overtaken our capitol.

There are many dire warnings being bandied about on how these looming cuts will affect the "middle class" which to me, seems to mean everyone other than those working in Washington DC.

For instance, cuts imposed by the sequester would cut back on federal meat and poultry inspection services, which could impact the health safety of the population. Sequester cuts could affect air traffic control services at our nation's airports. There's a safety concern for the public using air travel both nationally and internationally.

Taking that a step further, there would be cuts to the Transportation Safety Administration, or those wonderful folks who screen passengers at the airports. You think you stand in line a long time now try that with half as many TSA screeners on the job and also think about the possibility that someone with illicit intentions might be able to slip something onto a flight

There's a potential for national security, just like 9/11, all over again.

Oh, and if someone you know receives unemployment payments, those payments would see almost a 10 percent cut as well due to the sequester cuts. Talk about kicking someone when they're down

I don't want to be the fear monger, but these are just some of the possible cuts that could affect every one of us here in our own communities far removed from Washington DC.

The frustrating thing about all of this is that our lawmakers continue to play their playground games of "yes you did" "no I didn't" as the clock ticks down, and if the cuts go into effect, their attitudes will be, "Well, we did what we could. Sorry about that."

So, let me be the radical to propose this: Instead of cutting from governmental services like food inspectors and air traffic controllers, for instance, let's cut the salaries and perks of the lawmakers themselves. How about a pay cut of $25,000 for each lawmaker in the House and Senate as an incentive for them to get off their flat bottoms and get to work representing the people who elected them?

One thing is for sure, and I know I'm not alone in feeling this way our federal lawmakers' job is to represent us not their own personal interests. As it is, our government is spiraling out of control - Nothing gets done until it is an absolute crisis and the public is sick and tired of it.

There, I've said my piece, for what its worth. I feel better about it, but I continue to be worried about the direction of my country like many of us are.



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