READY: My humble understanding of politics and the economy

Published: Friday, March 1, 2013 at 05:59 PM.

Six weeks ago, I tried to make sense of the “fiscal cliff” buzz phrase making the rounds of all the media outlets via print and those talking heads on television. Well, apparently our government’s high-dollar, money guzzling stretch limousine did not drive off the cliff in January as was threatened.

Now, we keep hearing the terms “sequestration” and “sequester” in reference to the present economic crisis.

I thought it had something to do with trial juries and hotel rooms. Or maybe hiding out in your bedroom with a good novel and a glass of wine while the spouse takes care of the kids.

But, here’s the political definition:

Originally, “sequestration” was legal speak for the act of valuable property being taken into custody by an agent of the court and locked away for safekeeping, usually to prevent said property from being disposed of before a dispute over its ownership can be resolved.

In recent years, Congress has employed the term to describe a fiscal policy allowing them to make the size of the federal government's budget deficit a matter of conscious choice instead of an arithmetical reality of an appropriations process previously ignored until it’s too late to do anything about it.

If Congressional appropriation bills add up to spending above previous limits set by the annual budget resolution, and/or Congress cannot agree on ways to cut back the excessive spending, then an "automatic" cutback — or “sequestration” — takes place.

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