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From the Desk of
County Commissioner Blaine Young

(3/2013) If you are like me, until recently you thought the word "sequester" described what judges do to juries in high profile criminal trials. Well, we have a whole new definition now. And, in my book, it just amounts to more horrifyingly bad governing in Washington.

It all started a couple of years ago when Congress and the president could not agree on a package of revenues and spending cuts to go along with yet another increase in our debt limit. So, in their infinite wisdom, they decided to schedule a round of massive (but not across-the-board) spending cuts that would kick in if no broader deal was reached. It wasn't so, and here we are.

It was thought at the time by the geniuses in Washington that the sequester would be so devastating to our economy that no president and congressmen and senators (especially newly elected ones) would ever sit idly by and allow it to occur. Wrong again.

Flash back to the first of this year. With the "fiscal cliff" looming, Republicans were in a bind. If nothing was done, every American faced a significant tax increase. So they made a deal by which taxes went up on some of us, but not all. The liberals cheered from the cheap seats.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot. This time, if nothing happens, the result will be budget cuts, not tax hikes. As bad as the cuts may be, and particularly in this region, Republicans seem willing to let the Democrats stew for a while even if it means sequester.

President Barack Obama and his liberal pals, still flush with their electoral success, don't seem to be taking the Republicans seriously. But I think they have miscalculated this time, and we may be in for a protracted game of chicken Ė with the nation and its citizens the loser.

When I was a child, in a situation such as this, Ronald Reagan would invite Tip O'Neill over to the White House and over bourbon and Irish whiskey and a story from the president, they would work out something for the good of the country. We don't have that kind of leadership anymore. And under our antiquated, broken two-party system, we probably never will again.

The incompetence and downright irresponsibility of our so called "national leaders" continues to astound me. A few years ago the president appointed a commission headed by former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House Chief of Staff and Democrat Erskin Bowles. By all accounts this group worked very hard and came up with a plan that was designed to tackle the deficit through a combination of revenue enhancements and spending cuts. A lot of us disagreed with some aspects of the plan. That was intentional. It was not designed to be fully embraced by everyone, but was designed as a compromise in which everyone could find something they liked and assuredly something they didnít like. That is what a compromise is.

The president and the Congress received the report, thanked Mr. Simpson and Mr. Bowles, and threw it in the trash can. End of discussion.

Now my complaint is not with the fact that the report was rejected. My complaint is that the incompetents running our government did not even give it a thorough review and discussion, and let us make up our own minds. They saw too many things in it that would upset key political constituencies, and therefore feared for their jobs if they even hinted that they might embrace something as ambitious and far reaching as the Simpson-Bowels plan. It was just another example of legislators and a president who are more interested in preserving their jobs than in preserving our nation.

I donít know about you, but Iíve never been more down on our federal government. I have a hard time looking my children in the eye and telling them they will have a chance for a happy and productive life as citizens of the United States.

We might be the first generation who has ever been in the position of not being able to tell our children that their future looks bright and rosy, because they live in the greatest nation in the world. They do, but people in Washington today are trying to destroy it.

"Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other." - President Ronald Reagan

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