A reader sounds off on a recent post:
Will Wilkinson’s idea that the government is doing just fine with the sequestration made my blood boil. I understand his point about the government being forced to cut and refocus, but the problem is that not all agencies were as bloated as others. Some were better managed than others, and others were already pretty lean after Congress had cut and cut year after year.
Congress and the President completely failed us, though I blame Congress more because at least Obama tried to fix things as the deadline loomed. Congress abdicated its responsibility to make tough budgetary decisions based on reasonable goals and compromises. Wilkinson’s approval of sequestration is approval of a Congress that decided to bury its head in the sand rather than do its job.
I work in law enforcement for a Federal agency, and I have been furloughed. Prior to sequestration’s going into effect, my agency’s budget was already pretty lean, since Congress had already cut billions out of the budget in the preceding years. Those cuts resulted in reduced training and hiring, meaning there were few of us to complete more work with less know-how. The sequestration cut into that budget further still. But nothing else is left to cut except my hours. That doesn’t make us leaner and more streamlined; it just makes us less efficient.
In a law enforcement agency, when there are fewer resources on hand, we take on fewer cases and drop more cases instead of developing them. More people are absolutely getting away with breaking the law because of sequestration.
Also, we are putting off making important investments for future work in the hope that we might have a bigger budget next year. This is not effective management, and it is being forced on us by people who clearly do not care whether government is effective.
Congress is obviously free to find that law enforcement has enough funding to do its job and can redirect money to where it is needed. But that’s not what happened here. My agency was treated exactly the same as the VA, the Department of Education, the DoD, and everyone else. Maybe the DoD needed cuts. That would be a reasonable thing to find, but it is Congress’s job to decide to make those cuts. It is also their job to look at other agencies and increase their funding where appropriate. They didn’t do that. They don’t do anything.
I am frustrated. I love my job, and I am pretty good at it. I want to be a part of the government and do my part to run this great country. The only thing I absolutely hate about this job is that it is subject to the whims of the world’s worst board if directors: the U.S. Congress. I want to work more and serve my country, but the private sector just looks better and better. (Heck, private government contractors’ salaries will go up to $950,000 next year. That’s a much better salary than my CEO – Obama – makes.)
Maybe a meat cleaver works in some places, but it doesn’t in others. And Congress clearly isn’t competent to make that determination. I wish people would not suggest that sequestration worked. It just gives Congress license to do even less.