Spending: No frenzy over lost income

Federal spending cuts labeled “the sequester” was to be a terrible calamity, the White House warned during the weeks before they kicked in on Friday.

Really? A spending cut of nearly identical magnitude kicked in Jan. 1, and it didn’t seem to upset anyone in Washington.

Perhaps that is because the Jan. 1 cut forced you, not Uncle Sam, to tighten your belt.

The goal of President Barack Obama’s spin doctors in issuing dire warnings about the sequester was to whip up a public opinion frenzy calculated to pressure Congress into approving tax increases Obama wants as part of a deal to forestall the sequester. Obviously, it didn’t work.

Part of the public relations blitz simply isn’t true. For example, it was reported the sequester will slash $85 billion in federal spending between March 1 and the end of September.

Not true. The $85 billion figure represents sequester cuts on an annual basis. With just seven months left in the fiscal year, the actual reduction for the period would be about $46 billion.

At a rate of $85 billion a year within the $3.8 trillion federal budget for this year, allowing the sequester to take place would reduce federal spending by only about 2.3 percent.

During 2011-12, we taxpayers got a bit of a break in the amount of our paychecks withheld to help pay for Social Security. For two years, 4.2 percent of our pay was withheld for the purpose.

But Obama and Congress allowed that to expire Jan. 1, letting the withholding rate go up to 6.2 percent. Washington is keeping 2 percent more of what you earn than it did last year.

That means the approximately 143.3 million Americans who have jobs were forced on Jan. 1 to cut our spending (or saving) by 2 percent – nearly the same rate of belt-tightening Uncle Sam faces from the sequester.

You don’t recall White House wailing and gnashing of teeth about that, because virtually nothing was said in Washington when we taxpayers were told we had to make do with less.

Puts anguish over the sequester in a different light, doesn’t it?