This week, for the first time since the end of the government shutdown, budget talks between Democrats and Republicans began. The aim of the negotiations is to avert another government shutdown when temporary funding runs out January 15 and to raise the federal debt ceiling before the nation reaches its borrowing limit sometime in February.
Another budgetary consideration looms large, however: spending cuts mandated by the sequester. The cuts were designed to hit popular programs in an inconvenient way to force a budget deal (that never materialized). The military, federally-funded scientific research and other popular programs were hit hard.
Although the sequester never had the catastrophic effects on the economy that some politicians predicted — the economy has continued to grow — it has adversely affected the military and scientific research. Recently, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said that only two of the military’s 42 combat brigades are fully trained and ready. And sequester cuts have damaged innovative research programs with the potential to gin up billions of dollars of economic activity for businesses across the U.S.
Although conservatives and liberals may argue about the relative effects of sequester cuts on the economy, there’s a strong consensus that these clumsy cuts are not the best way to go about reducing spending. But no matter how much both Republicans and Democrats dislike the sequester, they equally oppose the other side’s solution to replace it.
So what does that mean for California?