The budget turmoil may mean no meat inspectors — and no meat
By Philip Bump
In every respect, the sequester is dumb. If you’re only vaguely familiar with the term as it’s being used this month: God bless you. But a little background is in order. The recently ended 112th Congress wasn’t mature enough to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit (even though it had declared that the deficit was a big priority), so it decided to build a time bomb. “If you don’t come up with a budget plan in the spring,” it said, “this thing’s gonna blow, slicing over a trillion dollars from the budget over the next decade.” The 112th Congress then laughed maniacally and did nothing for the rest of the year. Now the 113th Congress is standing around holding this big bomb, sweating nervously, mad at the previous Congress (which was almost entirely the same people). Oh, you don’t care? Good, slash government, you say? Cool attitude. But also: Say goodbye to all of the meat you eat. From Reuters:
The Obama administration warned on Friday that across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect in March may result in furloughing every U.S. meat and poultry inspector for two weeks, causing the meat industry to shut down.
By law, meatpackers and processors are not allowed to ship beef, pork, lamb and poultry meat without the Agriculture Department’s inspection seal.
Remember before when you were like, “Who cares about budget cuts?” Now, you do. Ha ha.
Here is a spoiler: This is an obviously empty threat on which the president would never follow through. Obama is 51 years old. He’ll only be 54 when he leaves office. Do you think he wants to spend the rest of his life being known as the president who allowed the United States to go without meat for even an hour? When Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he suggested that the move would lose the South for Democrats for a generation. If Obama let America run out of meat, he’d lose the entire United States for Democrats for about a century.
Reuters adds this bit of trivia:
Americans consume more than 200 pounds (91 kg) of meat apiece each year, an average of slightly more than one-half pound a day.
But, it could be worse. We could be Europe.
Philip Bump writes about the news for Gristmill. He also uses Twitter a whole lot.