Yet another fiscal crisis unfolds

There seems to be no end to the fiscal crises that erupt in Washington, D.C.

They have all kinds of names: debt limit, fiscal cliff, sequestration. The last of this trio, sequestration, is the controversy of the moment in Washington. I don’t know about you, but I am relying on the PBS NewsHour to help me sort through it all.

The NewHour airs at 6 each night, Monday through Friday, on KACV-TV. It produces some of the smartest, most incisive reporting and analysis on television. I’ll give you three guesses on what will dominate the NewsHour’s discussion tonight … and the first two guesses don’t count.

Yep, it’ll be sequestration, which kicked in late this past week.

The term “sequestration” has become a sort of shorthand for a law enacted in 2011 by Congress, and signed by President Obama, as part of an earlier budget crisis, er, deal designed to prevent this kind of thing from occurring. The law contained the kicker that if the White House and Congress couldn’t come up with deficit-reduction ideas on their own, then the law would trigger automatic 10-percent cuts to virtually every government program on the books.

The law was meant to deter sequestration, to force the two sides to reach a deficit-reduction deal. How silly, right? The automatic cuts will slash $85 billion from the federal budget. It’s a lot of money, to be sure. But the current budget deficit is expected to be near $1 trillion this year alone, which means the reductions amount to less than 1 percent of the projected deficit.

Depending on who’s talking, this latest crisis is the fault of the White House or the Congress. The NewsHour does a good job regularly of wading through the partisan finger-pointing and analyzing the facts cleanly and without the bias built into the criticism that flies back and forth.

I believe public television viewer will be able to learn about sequestration and what it really means to those of us who pay the salaries of the individuals who cannot seem to work out the deal millions of Americans expect of them.

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