HOLY SEQUESTRATION, BATMAN!
Calm down, Robin.
It arrives today, a Death Star launched by leaders of the Planet of the Apes, a/k/a Congress, described by Mark Twain as "the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes."
Sequestration supposedly is so deadly a doomsday device that rational people would not let it happen - but who says Congress is rational? Mark Twain again: "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."
The president doesn't get a pass because his A-Team dealt this Joker after Republicans and Democrats deadlocked on a way to attack a Mount Rushmore of debt that threatens our financial future and forces our children to swim in a sea of red ink.
Because Washington cries "wolf" more than a shepherd with OCD, the public ignored the catastrophic predictions of what sequestration will bring. (Sequestration is a fancy term for an automatic, across-the-board, $85 billion cut this year from a bloated federal budget. Over 10 years, it cuts $1.2 trillion.)
According to the president and his allies, sometime today planes will fall from the sky, half of the military will be benched, criminals will be turned loose, children will starve and your underpants will combust spontaneously.
In fact, the cuts, amounting to 2 to 3 percent shaved from a $3.7 trillion budget, will unfold slowly over the months ahead.
The president meets with the top four congressional leaders Friday (unless they get hit by a falling plane). The timing suggests that leaders of the Planet of the Apes can legislate only at or after a self-imposed deadline.
This is not how to run a pickle factory, let alone a superpower.
A bad outcome would be yet another just-to-avoid-catastrophe "temporary" fix delaying the inevitable fiscal pain. That's what we got with the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff. And because of the "Groundhog Day" feel of this, Americans are yawning. More importantly, the stock market lost just a fraction Thursday. We sense that this crisis is fraudulent, a made-in-Washington hot mess.
We need a farsighted adult remedy, not a placebo.
The remedy has two parts and anyone rooted in reality knows it - higher taxes for the super-rich few, and lesser benefits for the middle-class many. The one-quarter of Americans at the poverty line should be left alone.
The small island of the rich can and should pay more because they can easily afford to. The vast middle class has to accept slimmed-down benefits. Both will bitch but it has to be done because what we are doing now is killing us.
While many politicians describe sequestration as a suicide belt, it is actually too small to fill the current $16 trillion hole. There are better ways to reduce costs, but our "leaders" froze in the headlights and instead ordered the big, blind ax that wouldn't show anyone's fingerprints.
Deep in our hearts, we know that our bills must be paid. Either we pay them, or our kids do. What seems fair and just to you?
As the sequester locks in - and I actually expect another quick, gutless, haphazard fix - there will be some layoffs and some inconveniences, perhaps even some horror stories. Republicans and Democrats will blame one another while Americans should blame the spineless apes in Washington who let us down.
I'll give Twain a rest and switch to Will Rogers: "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer."
Our leaders can prove Rogers wrong by ending the political monkeyshines and getting us off the Planet of the Apes.
That's a nice dream, isn't it?
On Twitter: @StuBykofsky