Back to a Sequestration Future

Back to a Sequestration Future

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Ah, “sequestration” we missed you!

Back in 1985, when the term first appeared in a budget context, “Back to the Future” was the top-grossing film. “We are the World” was the top selling song, benefitting the African famine victims, and Ronald Reagan had begun his second term. And, oh yeah, the budget was in the red.

“Sequestration” was coined during the 1985 debate over the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings bill, sponsored by then-Sens. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, Warren Rudman, R-N.H., and Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. (who later said he wanted a “divorce” and his name was dropped from popular reference to the law).

In essence, the word (taken from a legal term referring to the act of valuable property being locked away for safekeeping by an agent of the court)  as used by the budgetary trio meant automatic across-the-board cuts to government spending, that were triggered unless the Congress agreed to budget-cutting first. Sound familiar?

Now, even though Gramm-Rudman is long gone and its authors long out of Congress, we’re back to the debt-ceiling and deficit debate. So, as the 1984 film “Ghostbusters” asked, “who you gonna call?”


The current deficit super committee agreement calls for the committee to make the cuts or “sequestration” of government spending will kick in. The word is back.

As in:

*“The most promising feature of the Budget Control Act is an automatic sequestration feature…” -- Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., in opposition to the recent debt-ceiling bill.

*“Defense cannot sustain any additional cuts either from the joint committee or the sequestration trigger,” -- Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., reluctantly supporting the debt-ceiling bill.

* And White House Spokesman Jay Carney: “But there is, obviously, which is the very onerous actions that would be forced on the Congress by the sequestration -- forgive me for using that word….”

Nah, we’ll embrace it.

Sequestration now, Sequestration tomorrow, Sequestration in the future!

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