Under Sequester, the Morning Jolt Will Be Less Than 2 Percent Shorter Than Before
Shortly after midnight, this is what happened, according to Twitter:
Stephen Gutowski: “Just tried driving but since sequestration went into effect the roads have all crumbled into dust.”
Brendan Loy: “OH MY GOD THERE ARE GOVERNMENT WORKERS SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTING ALL OVER THE PLACE, THIS IS HORRIBLE, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP” He added, “BREAKING: CALIFORNIA DECLARES WAR ON OREGON; KENTUCKY LAUNCHES SNEAK ATTACK ON TENNESSEE. MASS CHAOS.”
Jonah: “It wasn’t until I ate my neighbor’s pancreas that I realized president Obama was right about the sequester.”
Iowahawk: “The corpses are piling up outside my window like cordwood, oh my God the humanity.”
Sebastian: “Nothing to worry about! I grabbed my double barrel shotgun & blasted #sequester through the door, just like the VP said.”
Ari Fleischer: “President Obama is right. Undo the sequester! I can’t stand it already.”
Becket Adams: “I don’t think my neighbors are taking sequestration seriously. They’re giving me weird looks and making fun of my war paint and loincloth.”
Exurban Jon: “So this is what anarchy feels like. . . . From now on, I shall be known as ‘ExJon, Warlord of the Western Deserts.’”
Buck Sexton: “Did America lose 170,000,000 jobs in the last 10 minutes? Keep me informed, everyone.”
Brandon Morse: “The #sequester may now join the Mayan Calendar and the Y2K bug in the ‘[Stuff] Everyone Survived’ Hall of Fame.”
Rick Wilson: “A few hours of fitful sleep, the sound of sirens and screams of the victims of the Barackolypse rending the night air . . . I saw their fires in the dark, savagery swiftly tearing away the thin veneer of civilization only government diversity programs provided.”
John Podhoretz: “Just looked out the window. Five hedge fund guys fighting over a piece of raw meat.”
So what’s actually going to happen? Nothing much, at first:
For one thing, Obama must sign an order formally starting the “sequester” or spending reductions — which according to a new estimate from the Congressional Budget Office — would amount to $42 billion in the current fiscal year.
And White House aides have indicated that the president is not likely to put pen to paper on that order until after he meets with congressional leaders, a meeting slated for Friday morning.
Once Obama signs the order to start the spending cuts, any furloughs of federal workers could not begin at least for another 30 days due to federal regulations and to collective bargaining agreements which the government has with the unions that represent roughly half of the federal workforce.
So the Border Patrol Agents in Arizona won’t suddenly vanish on Friday and the civilians who repair Navy ships won’t be ordered to immediately put down their tools.
As with many things the federal government does, there are multiple rules, regulatory hurdles, avenues for appeal and opportunities for litigation.
As Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale, the Pentagon’s Chief Financial Officer, explained last week, “The bottom line is, furloughs would not actually start for DOD employees until late April.”
He explained, “There’s a whole series of notifications. We started the first one today (Feb. 20), with the notification to Congress, along with a message by the secretary of defense to our civilian employees. That starts a 45-day clock ticking. Until that clock has run out, we cannot proceed with furloughs.”
He added, “At some point in mid-March, we will send a notification to each employee who may be furloughed. That starts a 30-day clock, waiting period, before we can take any action. And then later on in April, we will send a decision to employees, and they have a one-week period, once we’ve made that decision, to appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board.”
Hmm. Did the administration botch its messaging on the sequester as badly as it appears at this hour? Is this the first bit of post–Election Day hubris biting the president?