Re: Snot and sequestration

1

This is what it looks like when you try to write about something and you're completely uninformed, and did not bother to rummage up one single relevant article with actual facts.

Folk folk post.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 8:51 AM
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Sort of like duck, duck goose.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 8:52 AM
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Say "folk duck" twelve times fast.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:06 AM
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It would suck for a number of people in my lab, and it might suck for me personally. Also, there is a backdoor method for the GOP to back out of the defense cuts, so it seems likely that they could arrange it so that only the non-defense cuts took effect.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:09 AM
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4 would be better with a like but bleh late.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:09 AM
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I like 4, Tweets.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:12 AM
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👍*
4 liked by JP Stormcrow. Is that better?

*For somebody somewhere, that might display as a "thumbs up". (Maybe if they have WingDings loaded for their browser?)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:16 AM
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I hate heebie.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:16 AM
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My impression is that nobody in the government really cares what gets cut, it will all be at random for the sake of sending some symbolic message to the bond markets or whatever. Except the defense cuts, people are lobbying against those.

Like Sify, the realm in which I work is largely at a standstill. Every funding decision that was supposed to happen in the last six months has been postponed. Supposedly there's going to be a 5% cut to everything. In effect this may mean that a bunch of people at the margin don't get funded who would have gotten funded. Or maybe people will get funded at 2/3 the agreed amount and be unable to achieve any of their goals or hire enough people do do the work.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:17 AM
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Wow, just look at that timestamp on that pwning.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:17 AM
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Yeah, it was a close thing... I was doing research. Try it sometime.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:19 AM
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I think I should be more worried. My boss is federal so I think it's likely it will effect me. I don't think it'll effect my funding directly because of the weird byways my funding has taken through various organizations. But who knows?

With the last round of potential cuts (when I was at my previous position down south), my boss would give us a 'this is what will happen if I can't come in to work on Monday' talk the weekend before the cuts were expected. It basically consisted of him not officially being able to work but being available to us via personal email and text messaging (texting supervisors are the best!). We were all pretty independent workers (old grad students and technicians) so we could have run everything fine (except potentially the phone calls from the public about weird animals which we'd get occasionally).

Here, I'm not so sure. There are more younger people around and my boss is more of a micro-manager/worrier.

But no one seems to be talking about the cuts to my field because overall they're such a little bit of money (which just makes me more annoyed but this childishness).


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:20 AM
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11: Aw, folk anger is so cute.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:20 AM
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I have a suspicion that hella fast cameras are low enough on the DOE pecking order that my funding will be among those cut if the sequester goes into effect.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:21 AM
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Low-level people aren't going to get fired in my field. Not immediately. It'll just be a lack of new jobs. Any growth to keep up with the number of new qualified people will stop.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:21 AM
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but s.b. by

plus some other errors


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:22 AM
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Why does a last-minute deal seem less likely this time around?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:22 AM
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9.2: This jives with the reports I get from academics I know socially. Also from two of my kids who have internships/potential jobs kind of hanging on academic funding.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:22 AM
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17: Does it? They all feel kind of the same to me - basically nothing will get decided until the last minute and no one will admit to being prepared to compromise until the deal is announced. A long period of people making things sound as bad as possible followed by a 'miraculous' solution.

Maybe this one won't go through but it doesn't really feel any different to me.


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:27 AM
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Hope you feel better soon, heebie!


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:28 AM
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(pretend the tags closed after feel)


Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:28 AM
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19: Just from conversation here? That everyone seems to be thinking through consequences, instead of rolling their eyes at the kabuki theatre of it all?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:29 AM
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We're probably fucked- we have a few million in pending administrative supplements that are grant performance bonuses or project extensions that would most likely get wiped out in the NIH cuts. One of them is a resource due for public release later this year, so killing the funding would also essentially waste the $4M they already put into it last year.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:30 AM
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20: thanks!


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:37 AM
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Why it's different:
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/pentagon-furloughs-could-start-in-mid-april-86725.html


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:44 AM
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25- But obviously they're structuring it in a way to be as politically noxious as possible- they could cut $5B from some weapons programs, but instead they're hitting employees. (Or is the sequestration specific that the $5B has to come from salaries? Let's make this the Other People Do My Research For Me thread.)


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:47 AM
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Say "folk duck" twelve times fast.

It turned into "Fuck Duke" really quickly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:49 AM
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3- Fucked up.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:51 AM
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25. I don't know the answer to that. The plan to furlough people one day a week is actually IMO a pretty sensible way for a huge, slow-moving entity to respond to a sudden shock.

Also, stop-work orders, maybe-- there are circumstances where these can be used to abruptly terminate contracts, don't know if sequestration is in scope for that. There's a real tension between needing to continue work and making announcements about plans, as workers will then flee preemptively, making continued work impossible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:52 AM
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Am I the only one who reads about furloughs and feels envy?


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:53 AM
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I don't know, a furlough wouldn't change the amount of work I have to do so it would just be getting paid less to accomplish the same things.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 9:59 AM
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Yeah. We got furloughed last year -- in essence, we got a bunch of unpaid vacation days. Given that I can't manage to get my work done and take all the regular vacation I get, the effect was of a simple pay cut.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:01 AM
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In many instances it really is just a direct pay it, with no cut in work -- worse, because from a PR standpoint the narrative looks like "oh, those public sector employees get to take it so easy.". The reality is that your work doesnt diminish, you just have to take it home with you.


Posted by: Jms | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:04 AM
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In many instances it really is just a direct pay it, with no cut in work -- worse, because from a PR standpoint the narrative looks like "oh, those public sector employees get to take it so easy.". The reality is that your work doesnt diminish, you just have to take it home with you.


Posted by: Jms | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:04 AM
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When Jammies was furloughed in 2009, they were absolutely not allowed to work. It was one week per quarter. Very great since Hawaii was born and we got married that year.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:04 AM
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Pwned, but I said it twice.


Posted by: Jms | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:05 AM
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And I got the impression then that the not-working was legally mandated.


Posted by: heebie-heebie | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:06 AM
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In my wife's old newspaper, they were very strict about the not working. I meant a lot of late nights before your furlough, and lots of late nights catching up--because, as mentioned, it's not like they're hiring extra hands to do the work while you're out on furlough. It just builds up.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:12 AM
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I suspect a union/non-union difference here.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:13 AM
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I want the kind of furlough where you are legally forbidden to do anything useful to anyone at all. You have to stay at home, and you cannot catch up on housecleaning.

Maybe the name for this kind of furlough is "sabbath"?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:15 AM
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Is there any talk about looking at the tax code aside from the basic income bracket rates? Why isn't the personal capital gains tax ever at issue? Or perhaps it is?


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:19 AM
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MA gets more per capita NIH funding than any other state. It would mess with our economy something fierce.

Does anyone know how this affects stuff that's already been awarded. I'm being paid out of a grant from CMMI that was awarded in July for 3 years. I'm hoping that they already got the money and are just doling it out now.

SP-- I thought that your organization was richer than God and had a lot of private money.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:21 AM
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41. It increased this year, to 20% from 15%


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:26 AM
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40- Then it just costs extra to pay the furlough goy.
42- Yes and no- the same could be said of Harvard but day to day research budgets rely heavily on grants because there's no way in hell they'd backstop anyone's lab with endowment funds. Same goes for us, overall we have an endowment but our group's operating budget is about 75% NIH grants.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:27 AM
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There are two grants I'm waiting to hear on. One of them (a personal grant) I'd really like to get, but the timing really doesn't matter. The other one (which is for a good cause, not for me) I really need to know about in a timely fashion. If things get dragged out for another month or two, then it'll be too late to get it set up in time. So I'm worried and annoyed about that.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:37 AM
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Here's a detailed rundown of what line-items are affected.

In health, Medicaid is spared entirely, which is good, but cuts extend to the health insurance exchange subsidies, Indian Health Services, and possibly HRSA's community clinic grants.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:46 AM
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When I was in DC last week, the consensus from all of the Hill staffers* and the advocates** I met with was:

1. Sequestration: We thought it was the worst thing ever when it was enacted, but now looks like an increasing number of legislators are saying "OK, let it happen."

2. Because guess what -- the February sequestration deadline isn't the worst thing coming down the pike; along comes the next debt-ceiling showdown.+

3. And oh-ho, don't forget, we're still running on a Continuing Resolution rather than an honest-to-goodness federal budget for FY13 (nearly 6 months in to the fiscal year!), and when you ask about the FY14 budget people actually laugh.

In short, nobody knows anything except that this current uncertainty is already costing a lot.

*N=8, ranging from low to mid-level
**N=7, most highly experienced and respected

+ Although I don't know how the new-ish deal to move the debt ceiling fight to May (?) is going to affect this.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 10:54 AM
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I work at DOJ (Civil) and it is definitely more serious than before. I think that in December we got an e-mail from the AG saying you've probably heard about the sequester and it may affect us but we'll let you know well in advance.

This time, we got that e-mail and then another e-mail saying that there might be furloughs -- but they estimate that the maximum for any given employee would be 14 days. We've also been told that our budget for expenses (e.g. travel, experts, transcripts, etc.) is limited.

I'm not sure if it will affect my office, but I would definitely volunteer for a furlough if that was an option.


Posted by: tulip | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:01 AM
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46: So, CMMI is the center for Medicare and Medicaid innovation. Our goal is to help people manage their health conditions so that they use fewer high-cost resources. We're mostly focused on dual eligibles. I didn't think that Medicare was being touched right now.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:04 AM
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Whoops, forgot to say that according to the folks I spoke with last week, the March 27 government shutdown date is the one to really worry about.

Although who knows, that could all have changed by now.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:05 AM
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43: It looks like that's only true for long term capital gains that are filed in the highest tax bracket:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323820104578216092043022764.html


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:12 AM
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One thing I only recently understood, which perhaps highlights my ignorance, is that personal capital gains accrued to assets in trust might be filed in a middle or lower income bracket, even for the extremely wealthy, since each trust files a separate return.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:13 AM
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I don't have a lot of love for Obama, but the Republicans branding it as "the president's sequester" just pisses me off.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:17 AM
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My D/o/D internship program has been frozen until April. That means fewer slots will get filled as hiring managers have already become discouraged and are turning their attention elsewhere. Plus interns are temp employees and if temp employees get the axe, then the program takes a 100% cut not just a 10-20% cut.

I am a pessimist. I think the sequester is going to happen. It will be painful for the public, but not like a complete shutdown so they'll get used to it.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:26 AM
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25. Funds can't be moved across the Operations & Maintenance, Procurement and RDT&E boundaries. Those are built into the law. I am pretty sure that the "across the board" nature means all the lower budget lines have to take the same percent hit. There is a certain amount of creativity that people can use, but reprogramming can lose you your job. This year: NWS's director and also a (possible) whistleblower. That appears to have been limited to O&M funds and just moving them among program elements.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:40 AM
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I didn't think that Medicare was being touched right now.

No, Medicare was explicitly part of the cuts being made (notionally, the defense cuts were supposed to make Republicans want to stop the sequester, and the Medicare cuts the same for Democrats). It was Medicaid that was exempted. Medicare cuts are mostly limited to 2% rather than the higher amount for discretionary services. Not sure what that all means for CMMI, though.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:45 AM
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I would guess that most of the profits from the Iraq war have been funneled from shares in companies like Blackwater into privately held trusts. Since those profits emerged from government efforts, at government costs, I don't see why they couldn't be traced and taxed at a high rate.

I don't actually know though, I could be missing something here.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:46 AM
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I would guess that most of the profits from the Iraq war have been funneled from shares in companies like Blackwater into privately held trusts. Since those profits emerged from government efforts, at government costs, I don't see why they couldn't be traced and taxed at a high rate.

I don't actually know though, I could be missing something here.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:46 AM
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emphasis not intended, sorry.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:47 AM
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but the Republicans branding it as "the president's sequester" just pisses me off.

I don't know what's worse, the fact that Republicans trying to claim that the sequester is solely the president's doing, or the typically ham-fisted way in which they're attempting to do it. I swear, "Obamaquester" sounds like some kind of politically-themed LOTR slash fiction.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:49 AM
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For Tro'dakh was not the only Obamaquester. A champion had been chosen from each of the nine realms.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:50 AM
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52: maybe, but over 12,000 or something it's taxed at the highest rate no matter what the beneficiary's income is. At least that's how it works for ordinary income, I.e interest or dividend income.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:50 AM
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55. me.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 11:53 AM
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I don't really understand exactly what the ultimate source of money is, but I was told that one reason we were able to admit fewer grad students than we wanted to this year was because of the looming sequester. So that sucks for the students who would have been admitted otherwise, although of course they don't know that they would have been admitted otherwise. It also led to a lot of people sniping at each other over who needs students more, so that made life mildly uncomfortable in a couple of meetings. Hopefully this isn't a long-term trend: the department is adding faculty and the number of grad students is shrinking, so at some point something has to give in terms of research output.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 1:13 PM
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I suspect a union/non-union difference here.

I think it's more likely salaried/occupational.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 1:37 PM
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I don't really understand exactly what the ultimate source of money is

Labor.

Or maybe full faith and credit of the U.S. government. I always get confused on economics threads.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 1:41 PM
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For us, let's see. Professor salaries and grad student stipends/tuition are paid by the University. For 3rd and 4th year grad students your stipend comes from pay for mandatory teaching, unless you get an external fellowship. External grad student fellowships, postdoc funding, and any research funding over and above salaries are all grant driven, and probably at least 80% of that is federal. We specifically have two or three postdocs who have been told that their funding depends on the sequester. I'm waiting to hear about a fellowship and a grant, either of which could potentially go towards my tuition/stipend and keep me from having to teach as much next year, which would rule. But I'm more worried about the postdocs, who 1. could be really screwed and 2. are really productive, impressive researchers, which mantles I wouldn't necessarily claim for myself at this point.

We've already turned down one postdoc who wanted to join the lab because one of the PIs wants to make sure he has money to fund at least one of the already-here postdocs should the sequester go through.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-19-13 1:51 PM
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I know this thread is dead, but I missed it at the time.

47: Although I don't know how the new-ish deal to move the debt ceiling fight to May (?) is going to affect this.

50: the March 27 government shutdown date is the one to really worry about

I really have some catching up to do. March 27 would be the debt ceiling deadline? Which is maybe going to be kicked down the road to May now?

I've been trying to avoid considering the sequester in terms of merely personal impact: it's really more about the broader economic and societal impact. How many people added to unemployment rolls? How much of an increase in income inequality due to loss of government benefits (through Headstart, school lunches, reduced community health services, what have you), along with all the issues attendant on a people increasingly immiserated?

From another angle, it's a distinct possibility that Maryland's bond rating will be downgraded since so much of its economy is based on federal gov't contracts. That would be sort of bad, since we're trying to launch a variety of initiatives, including (finally) constructing a decent wind farm off the coast; some of these projects are regional partnerships with Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and/or New Jersey, so there will be a domino effect.

But that's really far more abstract for me than the on-the-ground effects on the economy in general.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 12:59 PM
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If anyone's reading this thread, help me out here: what does Boehner want in order to agree to a deal to stop the sequester?

I just can't make it out. He's bloviating about so-called Obamaquester, a complete idiocy on his part which is no doubt intended to mollify the tea partiers ... and fine, I see why he feels the need to do that ... but the clock is ticking, and I'm utterly unclear on what real, actual concessions he wants from the Dems in order to avert the sequester.

Maybe I just haven't been following along enough, and he's actually put forward a proposal. If so, I've missed it. Help?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 1:52 PM
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what does Boehner want in order to agree to a deal to stop the sequester?

What he wants is for all the spending cuts to be shifted to domestic discretionary spending, instead of hitting the military.

I think to cut a "deal" he's signaled that he would be willing to just remove the military cuts entirely (and keep the other domestic spending cuts, or possibly negotiate over keeping some of those and getting rid of others).


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 1:56 PM
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Here's Kevin Drum saying he can't see a possible deal happening. I'm not aware of specific proposals on the table.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 1:57 PM
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And I haven't read the thread, so this may have been said, but what I really think Republicans want is just to let the sequester play out and to do everything they can to blame it (and every bad result that follows) on Obama. That's clearly the best outcome for them, other than complete capitulation by the Democrats.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 2:02 PM
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Okay, that's basically what I thought. Boehner doesn't have an actual proposal.

I sort of thought that Simpson-Bowles 2.0 would cause a flurry of talk about specific proposals, but people seem to be ignoring them.

p.s. There is a hilariously non-functioning FAQ at the Wonkblog on everything you need to know about the sequester. Excellent public service, guys! I was so excited! but none of the links work.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 2:08 PM
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I'm not aware of specific proposals on the table.

I was serious: I think the official Republican proposal is that the cuts in the sequester should be swapped out with other cuts that are less arbitrary (meaning: not on the military, just on discretionary domestic spending).

That's certainly what this article suggests:

"We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes," Boehner said in a statement. "The president's sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years." ....
Republicans say they've done their job to replace the cuts and point to their passage of a bill authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that swapped out the cuts.

Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 2:20 PM
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Yes, but that's clearly not going to happen: Dems are not going to agree to whichever version of the Ryan budget that is.

digby gets it right:

All John Boehner has to do is ignore the Hastert Rule and pass a replacement with Democratic votes. He could lose his speakership, true. But there are many grateful millionaires out there [in the defense industry] who will make it very worth his while. The Tea Partiers may not know on which side their bread is buttered, but he certainly does.

The Hastert rule has got to go; Boehner ditched it once, he can do it again.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 2:31 PM
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Republicans say they've done their job to replace the cuts and point to their passage of a bill authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that swapped out the cuts.

In the previous Congress though, right? If so, that bill means nothing now, and it isn't clear that they could pass it again. Is there anything stopping them from letting sequester hit and then passing a bill that restores just the military spending? If not, I'd bet on that.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 2:36 PM
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They don't even have to pass a bill, do they? I wish I could find the link, but somebody in the Drum/LGM/atrios/Josh Marshall axis claimed that there was some kind of second reconciliation-ish step that would allow for the restoration of the defense cuts procedurally.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 2:39 PM
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Yes, I think the current alarm bells from Republicans with respect ot the pedning defense cuts have zero to do with avoiding the sequester and everything to do with (1) pinning the blame on Obama and (2) gathering support for a reversal of the defense cuts (and only the defense cuts) once sequestration kicks in.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 3:08 PM
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I didn't know that billmon was back on the internet, but, apparently he is. Here's a relevant tweet: Finally understand why GOP keeps giving Obama hammer to hit them (fiscal cliff, sequester). It's S&M game: base digs pain, theirs & others


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 4:50 PM
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79: http://billmon.dailykos.com/


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 5:02 PM
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77. I thought that the dodge was that in a/the subsequent appropriation act for defense that they'd add back the money taken out. As I see it, that's a dodge that can get used for non-defense too. But I guess the GOP figures that the backfill for defense would be too popular for Senate & President to oppose.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 5:28 PM
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81: yep.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 6:02 PM
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But I guess the GOP figures that the backfill for defense would be too popular for Senate & President to oppose.

I'm not sure it's that so much as that opposing it will be unpopular, which would allow them to score political points, all while the rest of the sequester will be bad for the economy, which will also allow them to score political points.

It seems important to remember that Republicans want to wreck the economy more right now than they have for decades, because tax rates on the wealthy just went up, and they need evidence to "prove" that has ruinous effects, just like they warned us.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 7:09 PM
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We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that stonewalls with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in Greenwich now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That stood with us upon sequestration day.


Posted by: John Boehner | Link to this comment | 02-20-13 7:32 PM
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