Director’s Desk: April 1, 2013
Kenneth Gold | April 1, 2013
The sequester was, of course, never supposed to happen. The indiscriminate cuts to spending would be so damaging that surely Congress would take some action to avoid it – except it didn’t. With the exception of certain exempted programs – military salaries, veteran’s programs, Social Security, welfare and food stamps – everything else was supposed to be subject to the meat ax. But then, predictably, one agency after another began to find ways to avoid or minimize the predicted furloughs that were to be the inevitable result of the sequester. Still, there will be some furloughs, and there will be some level of impact on government services. But not, however, on one function deemed too important to furlough even a single employee: Customs and Border protection? Air traffic controllers? FBI agents? – no, meat inspectors. After vigorous lobbying by the meat industry (including the chicken & turkey lobbies), the Agriculture Department’s meat inspection service received $55 million in new funding in order to avoid furloughing any meat inspectors for even a single day. The meat ax will cut nearly everything, but not meat production. This is not, I repeat, is not an April fool’s story – you can’t make this stuff up.