The Sequester Hasn’t Gone Away

The big cuts start to bite this month. What that may mean:

Unemployment checks for people who’ve been without a job for more than 26 weeks are about to get cut by 11 percent. Military contracts are about to get canceled. Medicare patients are being turned away from cancer clinics. Schools will lay off teachers. Infrastructure projects will stop. There will be much more demand for a compromise than there is now. There will be much more political anger than there is now.

This budget sets up that debate. Republicans are, at this point, out of excuses. They can’t say the president isn’t reaching out to them. They can’t say he’s not willing to make painful concessions — or, to rephrase, they can say that, but given all the on-the-record quotes of Republican leaders demanding the White House accept means-testing Medicare and chained-CPI, no one will take them seriously. The White House is calling their bluff. The question is whether, as the pressure mounts, they double down against compromise, or they begin to fold.

Meanwhile, cuts could prompt more government workers to become spies:

Lawmakers and officials who oversee security clearances say the abrupt cut to roughly 20 percent of federal workers’ pay is pushing tens of thousands into the category of financially strapped government workers for whom foreign agents look in recruiting moles and spies. It may sound far-fetched, but those with experience in espionage cases said the threat is genuine.