Page 2 of 2
“Here they come, sucking us in, roping us in. Panic here, fear there: Crisis, destruction, no meat inspection, no cops, no teachers, no firefighters, no air-traffic control. I’m sorry, my days of getting roped into all this are over,” Rush said Thursday.
OK, notice anything in that quote? Such as “no cops”? Yes, Limbaugh has set up an exaggerated straw man to build an outrage, and he can thump it with a rhetorical bat until it breaks apart in bits. Or something like that.
That doesn’t mean he’s without points here. Notice the reference earlier to $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts. That’s how much the cuts would amount to if they’re allowed to continue for a decade. Cuts the first year would be about $85 billion, according to Representative Boehner.
But Limbaugh also said this: “Do you really think 800,000 people are gonna lose their jobs in the Pentagon because we cut $22 billion? Do you really think air-traffic control’s gonna shut down? Do you really think there aren’t gonna be any meat inspectors? Do you really think that all of these horror stories are going to happen? I don’t.”
He’s right the horror stories won’t happen, because nobody has said 800,000 Pentagon workers will lose their jobs. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said he’ll have to furlough that many Defense Department civilians if sequestration occurs, meaning that they will only be paid for working four days a week instead of five. So they’ll get a 20 percent reduction in pay, which isn’t fun. But it’s better than getting laid off.
Air-traffic control won’t shut. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has warned that travelers may face 90-minute delays at airports because of air-traffic restrictions. Meat inspectors will stay on the job, and so forth.
Yes, we know Limbaugh talks this way all the time, for calculated effect. He’s using it as a tool to try to make a larger point. Like many conservatives, he considers the federal government per se a huge, unproductive drag on the economy. But you’d be surprised how many people believe pretty much every word he says.