Voters’ memories are long enough to remember President Clinton’s admonitions that the sky was falling during the back-to-back government shutdowns in 1995-1996 after Congress and the President stalemated over (guess what) Republican-proposed budget cuts. Of course, there has also been the last four years of running to the cliff and screeching to a halt at the last possible moment, averting the “catastrophic effects of a government shutdown” per the current Administration’s talking points.
It has also starting to dawn on voters, especially small business owners, that the impending sequestration with its 5% reduction in spending is nothing compared to what they have had to endure during this overly long 4 year recession where annual 5% reductions in revenue have become the new normal. Intuit Statistics reports that even 2012 which supposedly encompassed an economic recovery saw most small business’s revenue decline by at least 3% and many businesses saw 5% or more in decreased revenues. This is on the tail of 4 previous years of miserable or non-existent growth in the small business sector.
What do small business owners do when they face decreased revenues? Like any proficient leader, they first trim the fat, then they cut their own compensation, then they drop club memberships and training seminars, then they trim non-essential personnel usually including their own personal support staff, and then only as a last recourse do they start to furlough workers.
Yet what has the President and every cabinet secretary started with? How about Interior Secretary Salazar saying that the forests will burn and state parks will close or Homeland Security announcing draconian airport delays because of furloughed TSA employees? Is there any business person in the US who believes that there isn’t at least 5% pork or wasted expenditures in the federal budget?
Perhaps the Administration should start with the USDA and the millions of dollars being spent on “sensitivity training” and the annual “Taste of Culture” where USDA employees wander through their headquarters building to sample dishes from around the world on each of the agency’s 12 floors and are taught salsa dancing and learning about human differences through literature. Instead of cutting TSA airport screening or air traffic controllers how about Homeland Security cutting grants for “zombie apocalypse training” as reported by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) this week.
The Administration will receive no sympathy from small business owners who look at the howling being done over a miniscule reduction in spending after 4 years of increased budgets. And, they now know that the reduction isn’t really a reduction at all, but a few percentage points less increase. As pointed out this week by the Wall Street Journal, the federal budget AFTER the sequester kicks in is still $15,000,000,000 more than it was in 2012. Small business owners would love to deal with that kind of “reduction”.
To paraphrase the eponymous Vulcan Mister Spock, the second time you fool me, it’s my fault. Small business owners aren’t falling for it this time.