Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sequestration – A Meaning Within a Definition

Sequestration… the first things I think of when I hear the word sequestration is isolating a jury for deliberations. The other thing that came to mind was deep sea drilling for oil and gas. So then I thought, exactly how does sequestration apply to the federal budget? If I listen to the talking heads on either side of the political spectrum all I can get from them is the big ticket budgets that will be impacted by this sequestration… and what a disaster it will be for this country and our economy. So, in my inquisitive style, I set off on a journey of understanding. The following is what I found and, in my mind, what I think it all means.

                Marriam-Webster defines sequestration (noun) as a legal writ authorizing a sheriff or commissioner to take into custody the property of a defendant who is in contempt until the orders of a court are complied with. The secondary definition given is even more interesting… Sequestration (noun) – A deposit whereby a neutral depository agrees to hold property in litigation and to restore it to the party to who it is adjudged to belong. Read this definition and understand and recognize what it is saying and what it means to you. Now, the Congressional Research Service defines sequestration as "In general, sequestration entails the permanent cancellation of budgetary resources by a uniform percentage. Moreover, this uniform percentage reduction is applied to all programs, projects, and activities within a budget account. However, the current sequestration procedures, as in previous iterations of such procedures, provide for exemptions and special rules. That is, certain programs and activities are exempt from sequestration, and certain other programs are governed by special rules regarding the application of a sequester.”(

So here I sit, dumbfounded, in front of my computer. The Marriam-Webster identifies that the root of their definition dates back to the 15th century.  The Congressional Research Services’ definition, the best I can tell, only dates back to 1985 as part of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of that same year. Ok… let’s see if I understand… the legislative and executive branches here act as the “commissioner who takes into custody the property of a “defendant”…”? Further, once the sequester kicks in, Congress or the Federal Government is the “neutral depository” that will hold our property, or taxes dollars, and are required to restore that property to who it is adjudged to belong? In my feeble mind, I think I understand what the accepted definition of sequestration means. However, because the citizenry of the United States cannot be left to try to understand these complex things on our own, the Federal Government re-defines sequestration as it applies to the federal budget. In perfect style, the Federal Government has taken something pretty simple and managed to make it into something so confusing that most Federal Courts cannot likely agree what this definition really means.

One man’s opinion on sequestration is this… I think it should happen. Before I get the rhetoric thrown back in my face, let’s be clear on why I feel this will ultimately be good for the country. But first let me be clear on this point… my position is born not of listening to the liberal press’s pontifications or any right-wing talking-points. I tend to look at the facts, or do my best to get to some semblance of truth to help formulate a position. I also live by the creed “if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”, and this approach tends to make me more honest and realistic when assessing problems and/or issue. But I digress… The last 5+ years should be a wake-up call for the country.  We have adopted policies during both the Bush and Obama Administrations that have weaken the very foundations of our financial systems. Obama’s reckless spending, aided by a mixed House and Senate is leading us down a path of financial ruin not just as a nation, but as individual citizens. As an individual who could potentially benefit from tax increases on more wealthy Americans, I oppose the measure. Common sense kicks in and it tells me that raising taxes on ANYONE at this stage is bad for everyone! The answer in not to spend ourselves out of recession. Ask Japan how that approach served them?

Look, I favor a strong defense personally, but the military industrial complex is bloated, wasteful, and downright inefficient. The cuts that will go into effect as part of the sequestration are actually pretty timely. Sure, it is going to hurt for a little while, but we will survive. Think of it the same way we do our own household budgets. You might think it sucks giving up cable television because you cannot afford it, but over time, you may actually grow not to miss it at all, maybe rediscover music, and spend more time talking to your family members? You see, Congress and the President want us all to believe that they are making the right decisions for us. I think we all know that is questionable at best. The spending on both the Federal and State levels is disastrously out of control. There is no motivation or commitment to control spending. Government sees the only viable option is to raise taxes. This is a counter-intuitive approach and is grounds alone to send these folks back to civilian life so that they may have even an ever so slight taste of the pain we are all going through.

I want to circle back to one last point as it relates to the Marriam-Webster definition of sequestration. Again, Sequestration (noun) – A deposit whereby a neutral depository agrees to hold property in litigation and to restore it to the party to who it is adjudged to belong. This begs the question, if these cuts go into effect, what should be done with the proceeds of these spending cuts? To me, it is very simple… deficit reduction or tax cuts. Congress and the President need to restore this property back to the party who it SHOULD BE adjudged to belong, which are the American people. I’m going to throw out a suggestion since many families are starting to plan their summer vacations… take that money, or money from tax returns, and pay down your personal debt. I am not saying don’t go on vacation; just go to Lake George instead of Myrtle Beach or Disney World. Conceptually, Congress and the President need to do the same thing. President Obama, pay for your last vacation before you plan for your next vacation!

So, I will tell you that tomorrow night when the clock strikes 12 midnight, don’t be worried that sequestration is in motion… be thankful! The Federal Government needs to look at the problem for what it is and not run around looking for someone to blame, whether it be the past administration, their colleagues, or wealthy people. This will be the first step in the direction of correction. We will realize that, although it hurts, we will be better for it later. Don’t let the talking heads on the radio and television scare you… we will survive because we have to and because we are America, and that’s what we do! Happy Reading!


  1. Matt, I may not agree with all you feel, however it was on pointe in many areas.

  2. Harriet Warnock-GrahamMarch 12, 2013 at 2:05 PM

    Actually the deficit has been halved since Obama took over. My question is, "Given that the deficit is already down by half, why is the emphasis not on job creation?" You have to read a bit beyond the retail press to find this information but the government budget office backs up my statement. All the hoo haw about the deficit is just that, so much hoo haw.

  3. Matt, stick to your day job on the TROY NY Facebook Group. I used to have respect for you, but not while you pal with those "Anti-Troy" characters.

  4. No more blogs Matt? Did Randy Cooper tell you to stop? He is the next Mayor of Troy you know.