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Columbia Missourian

DAVID ROSMAN: Sequestration and bipartisan politics are the next big blizzard

By David Rosman
February 28, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST

SNOW!!!

The word has two meanings this week. The most obvious? Look out the window: cold, wet and very heavy. Tuesday brought clogged streets, broken trees, downed electric lines and no Internet.

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I do enjoy the snow. Not driving in it when drifts are higher than the hood of the car, or when the slush is a foot deep, but…

Everything looks clean and perfect. Every sound is eliminated, absorbed by the water crystals accumulated on the neighborhood. When the sun does return, and it will, a cheer returns to my heart, and I want to go outside and build a snow person or two.

In fact, I will make two snowmen or snowwomen and, as an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, defy state and federal law and marry them.

Our farmers welcomed the moisture. My country-folk partner in life, Kathy, told me that snow releases water slower and carries nutrients better than rain. I believe her. Me? I am a big-city kid who believes that chocolate milk comes from chocolate cows. I do watch the Central Dairy commercials, you know.

The other version is not so pleasant: The snow we are getting from both sides of the aisle concerning “sequestration.” The White House and liberals are crying that the upcoming budget cuts will all but destroy American, and therefore world, economies. The GOP and super conservatives are yelling “Let it happen. It’s the president’s fault.”

It is certainly not the fault of Congress’s juvenile behavior. Tea Party groups are rebelling against any proposal made by the Democrats while attacking middle-of-the-road Republicans for not being “conservative enough,” blaming the president for not passing legislation (not really his job), and definitely not listening the majority of the American people.

The insurgency within the Grand Old Party, the demanding by the super-conservatives that everyone else must become more “conservative,” cannot be the cause. However, conservatism does not mean “No new taxes!” (Remember that fiasco by conservative George H. W. Bush?) Abraham Lincoln defined conservatism as the “…adherence to the old and tired, against the new and untried.” He was then talking about the Democrats.

In “30-Second Politics,” edited by Steven Taylor, Michael Bailey, associate professor of political science at Berry College in Georgia, defined conservatism as “a political and social philosophy that embraces traditional rules and institutions, holding that society moves forward best by looking backwards.” One question — whose traditions?

Liberal politicos are near extinct since Sen. Edward Kennedy’s death. The Democratic Party is now more “right-wing left-wingers” these days. Still, trying to get the “New Dems” to work with their GOP counterparts is as hard as the reverse. Do not look for cooperation soon.

What we do know about the sequestration is that federal and civilian jobs could be lost and eliminated, and some work hours could be reduced by about 20 percent. Contracts could be put on hold. Access to Medicaid, food stamps, early childhood education, and the like could be further limited, and much more. All affect economic growth.

One contentious point is the extreme right-wing wants to save only the military budget with their “come ahead back” mandate, maintaining Cold War “out spend the enemy” tactics. Our biggest threats, religious and political extremists, Iran, North Korea and others, are holding their own with a fraction of military spending. The Cold War has been over for 20 years and the outspend tactic no longer applies.

Sequestration is a constitutional question, something that both sides seem to have forgotten. It does not matter where the idea for sequestration originated, it was agreed to by both houses of Congress, and the buck must stop with them.

By next week we will know if we are moving backward, forward or once again kicking that silly can down some road (How I dislike that metaphor.) One thing is certain: On Monday we will be buried deeper in the snow from a blizzard of repetitive rhetoric.

Children, stop fighting or I am going to take my snowball and go home.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.