If you have been suffering from an acute case of economic heartburn this week, you are not alone. Local business managers are biting their fingernails waiting to hear whether their local taxing entities are going to hike their levies to make up for potential cuts in state funding. Utah legislators, in turn, are waiting to firm up the state's budget until they see how hard they will be hit by the impending federal funding cuts that are tied up with that stomach-acid-churning sequestration deadline on Friday.
The upshot is that everyone, from the local school district business administrator to the hourly wage earner, is afraid to make any kind of financial commitment until Congress deals with the national deficit.
The arguments on both sides of the debate how to strike a balance between spending and entitlements cuts have become deafening. And, to be honest, no one at this point is winning any converts. In the meantime, the economy that both sides of the aisle profess to support is teetering on the brink of disaster.
According to a press release from the White House, the spending cuts mandated by the sequester would have tangible impacts in Utah. Without some sort of Congressional compromise, Utah stands to lose $6.3 million in federal support for elementary and high schools, $5.7 million in support for children with disabilities, $83.5 million in pay for Department of Defense employees (along with $16 million in Army base funding), $119,000 in public safety monies and $264,000 in public health support. And the list goes on.
No wonder there have been a lot of grim faces around town.
On the other hand, most of us agree that the ticking debt clock which now registers $16 trillion and allegedly gains more than $3 billion a day is a time bomb hanging over our children's future. The debt makes our country vulnerable to creditors and discourages investors.
It is too late for anyone to emerge as an eleventh-hour hero. The politicians' ongoing brinksmanship has already paralyzed the economy and shattered our trust. The most citizens can hope for is a humble, partisan-free compromise, and they had better do it fast.