Slaughtering Pigs With a Butter Knife

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Okay, we know that the outlook and behavior of the president during all these debt negotiations has been lame sauce. But let us not forget virtually everybody else!

The supercommittee failed to reach a consensus, and so — unless Congress acts — 1.2 trillion will be automatically cut from future spending, half from the military and half from domestic. After the failure of the supercommittee — before it had even reached room temperature — defense hawks were already saying that they would act to reverse the sequestration of funds so that our military would not be crippled.

In response to this, Obama promised that he would veto all such attempts. With all due recognition made for his thundering hypocrisies, let me dare to say “good for him.” Since it is smart politics and reasonable policy, I am sure that it was an accident — but fair is fair.

But what about the terrorists? What about the fact that the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, has said that these cuts will be “devastating.” And that’s Obama’s defense secretary.

Oh, for pity’s sake. These cuts are (in Washingtonese) devastating, crippling, ginormous, decimating, draconian, and all bloodbathy. The sounds emanating from all affected departments make it sound like someone is in there slaughtering pigs with a butter knife.

But what is the reality? These are all cuts in the rates of proposed increases. But gaining weight more slowly that you had planned on doing is not the same thing as “losing weight.” It is not a diet, still less a drastic one. So if Diogenes were to head off to Washington to find an honest man with his trusty flashlight, I would advise him to take an extra supply of batteries.

So then, if Congress reversed the sequestration, then defense spending would go up 23 percent over the next ten years. But if this “devastation” is allowed to happen (o tempora! o mores!), the increases will be a mere 16 percent. And, as we should all know, if the Defense Department only grows by a mere 16 percent, then the elves and nobles of Numinor will all have to make their melancholy pilgrimage down to the Grey Havens, with guttering candles held before them in the endless Celtic twilight, singing their sad tales about the decline of the West.



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