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Cynthia Lummis Official Portrait
GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis wants
people to lobby Congress to stop
the sequester
Conservatives love cheering government spending cuts...
Just ask Wyoming’s lone House member, Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis (R), who applauded the $85 billion carved across the board in a letter to constituents.

“Instead of blindly filling empty desks,” she wrote last week, “federal agencies will be forced to consider which positions are crucial and make their decision based on necessity rather than luxury.”

...until they hit home, like they did last week at Yellowstone National Park in Lummis's home state of Wyoming, where park superintendent Dan Wenk froze his workforce and delayed the start of seasonal hiring and plowing after being ordered to cut $1.8 million from his budget due to sequestration. The cuts will hurt Yellowstone tourism, delivering a blow to the region's economy, but thanks to cheerleaders of sequestration like Lummis, Wenk's hands were tied.

When Lummis was confronted with angry constituents, the obvious thing to do would have been to support repealing or replacing the sequester. Instead, she invented a fantasy in which Wenk was the villain, because instead of cutting his operating budget he should have lobbied Congress for permission to cut his capital budget. But not only was her "solution" not actually a solution, it would have actually increased spending over the long-run.

In an interview, Lummis suggested that Wenk petition House and Senate appropriators for permission to take money from his capital budget to cover the cuts, an idea he said was not legal and would never get through Congress in time.
Beyond the absurdity of a member of Congress urging one of her constituents to solve his problem by lobbying Congress, it would be astonishingly stupid to shift money from capital projects to current operations when interest rates are as low as they are. If you neglect long-term capital projects, sooner or later the bill will come due, and the longer you wait, the bigger the bill will be—and interest rates are bound to be higher when they do. Unless you're planning to let your most core assets rot, in the long-run it's cheaper to act earlier with low interest rates, and you get the side benefit of whatever capital improvements you've made.

Basically, what Lummis says Wenk should have asked for is like that old saying about shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic, except instead of telling him to shuffle the deck chairs, she's saying he should have asked the crew for permission to shuffle the deck chairs—never mind the fact that she's a member of the crew. If this is the kind of genius Wyoming sends to Congress, they get what they deserve. It's just a shame that those of us who didn't vote for Lummis have to suffer the consequences as well.

Meanwhile, Republicans are still whining about losing their White House tour perk even as real people are getting hurt. Please tell them to stop bellyaching and do something about the sequester.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Mar 11, 2013 at 07:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Economics.

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