Given the amount of doom and gloom that is reported surrounding the impending sequestration cuts, one may be surprised to learn that the cuts will result in a decrease in projected spending by only 2.3%. Hardly an unmanageable amount.
Put another way, it would be equivalent to having Federal spending take a week long holiday.
Despite these figures, sequestration has been presented by politicians and the media as the next "cliff" (didn't we just avert one a few weeks ago?). For instance, just this weekend, the White House released a menacing 7 page memorandum listing all the programs, services and agencies that would be affected. Obviously, the list is meant to incite emotion and evoke fear. After all, the document tells us that their will be cuts to food safety inspectors, airport security, national parks, education, amongst many, many more.
As I read through the list, I couldn't help but remember a similar menacing list produced by Governor Jerry Brown in his campaign to pass Proposition 30. Californians were told that if we didn't vote for increased taxes, key government services would be shut down. In fact, the Governor even released the names of dozens of state parks that were to be "closed" in the event that Proposition 30 did not pass. These scare tactics apparently worked and Proposition 30 ultimately passed. Of course, its passage seemed to only wet the appetite of those who have always sought increased taxes--within weeks the democratic super majority was alluding to other ways to increase revenues.
The pattern is clear. If you want create the perception that a small decrease in spending will have terrible consequences, you have to place on the chopping block those services that are most near and dear to taxpayers--public safety. I am not saying that public safety will actually be cut, but the government will publicize "planned" cuts to public safety more than anything else. I suspect though that sequestration will not result in a drastic drop in public safety as the politicians would lead us to believe.