Ask any veteran politician what frustrates them the most and high on the list will be the N.I.M.B.Y. people. N.I.MB.Y. stands for not in my backyard. These are the people who want government to do things as long as they don’t have to “pay the price” for it. Let’s put up a new cell tower so I get better cell phone reception but not on my block because I don’t want to look at it. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. What President Obama needs to do is basically a takeoff on this phenomenon to pressure the Republicans in Congress into action on the sequester.
Your first reaction is the sequester started yesterday and I don’t see any difference yet. You are probably correct and you may well not see a big difference in your everyday life for a few weeks. The only pain that really gets Americans’ attention is personal pain. Washington is essentially a company town – that company being the federal government – if you live in or around D.C. there is a chance you will feel the pain very soon. Some people will lose their jobs and many will be put on reduced hours. If you go from a five day work week to a four day work week with a proportionate reduction in pay you get a 20% pay cut. $50,000 a year becomes $40,000 a year overnight through no fault of your own. Ouch!
Let’s say you run a small business in or around the Capital. That translates into a 20%+ drop in customer traffic with a proportional drop in sales. If you were struggling to make it this may well put you under. If you were viable, you may still have to look at laying employees off and you certainly are not likely to go on a hiring spree. If you or your company makes a significant share of your sales to the federal government you may be looking at the well running dry.
Since the Executive Branch is currently in Democratic hands the pain in the Capital region will fall disproportionately on Democrats who won’t have much clout with Congressional Republicans. That is why it is important that the pain be directed at Republican constituencies as much as possible. Many of these people feel that the federal government just takes their money via taxes and does nothing for them in return. These are the people who truly believe they did build it on their own.
Last week Democratic Representative Keith Ellison, (MN-5), appeared on Fox News and took exception with the lead in that Sean Hannity did preceding Ellison’s appearance on the screen. Hannity’s lead in was factually challenged, (I’m being very kind), and Ellison took vigorous verbal exception. Their spat is irrelevant but it does illustrate two important points. Fox and outlets like it have a significant audience that is being misinformed. Everyone miscalculated just how economically ignorant and inept the Tea Party faction in the House is and now America will pay for it. As more and more comes out it appears Speaker John Boehner and President Obama weren’t far away from striking that illusive grand bargain some months ago, if only the influence of the Tea Party hadn’t made it politically unachievable. While I am of the school of thought that the national debt is a potential long term problem, something that would have steered us down the path of reducing it in a sensible fashion wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Being partisan for just a moment, remember Boehner publically stated he got 98% of what he wanted in the deal that has now morphed into the sequester.
I have already illustrated how individuals and small business will suffer – while the D.C. area may face the greatest impact they will not be alone. The place where the interruption of government services can have the greatest annoyance factor on what is disproportionately a conservative leaning but persuadable audience is in air travel. Road warriors and their corporate overlords are generally not liberals. While too distracted by their own day to day life to analyze political goings on adequately, they are not stupid. When airport lines start to resemble voting lines in Florida there will be an outcry. Imagine you are a sales manager and several of your reps let you know that they missed their flight and will not be making presentations. Now further imagine you have to report that “upstairs”. By the way, that sales rep is almost undoubtedly operating in some sort of incentive based compensation system and he or she didn’t make any money waiting in line for hours at the airport only to have the plane leave without them.
The GOP will get hit with a double whammy. They will hear it from the people they really care about, their financiers, who happen to own many of the corporations effected. They will also hear it from the people they have deceived into thinking that the Republicans represent their best interests. The GOP may not really care about the latter group, but they need their votes.
Yes, Mr. President some pain may be necessary to cure the disease that has infected our government. Americans are most motivated to vote when they vote against someone or something. If the results of the Tea Party/Republican actions anger enough people we will have a high turnout in 2014 and a lot of Republicans will be booted out of office.
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