The sequester also manages to be an economic distraction. Once again, it fails to address the ballooning costs of entitlement programs while making all other categories of spending pay the price. While imposing a 5.1 percent cut in domestic discretionary programs and a 7.3 percent cut in defense discretionary programs, the sequester involves a 2 percent reduction in Medicare provider payments. Yet health entitlements — Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare — will account for all of the projected explosion in federal spending in coming decades (since all other spending combined is projected to decline as a share of the economy). The sequester obscures and avoids the true sources of long-term debt.
The American political system is not designed for efficiency. But it presupposes deliberation and leadership. The serial abdication of both eventually has an economic and human cost.
Michael Gerson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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