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When politicians shrug

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio walks away from reporters outside the White House in Washington, Friday, March 1, 2103, without taking questions, after a meeting with President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders regarding the automatic spending cuts. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

CBS Correspondent Major Garrett put it perfectly – before now, spending cuts were theoretical. “Now they’re going to start to get real and the public will have a real voice.”

We Americans, as a group, agree that Congress wastes a lot of money – but individually we all want our government checks.

Along with a doctor for our children, a dignified retirement for our aging parents, a way to feed the destitute so they don’t riot, trained rescuers in case the hurricane hits or the waters rise or the sinkhole opens, and above all, a general sense of order so we can build a good life that can’t be arbitrarily snatched away.

But now the political system designed to balance all those things against the taxes needed to pay for them has broken down.

The noise from the lobbyists and alarmists and every little group with a finger in the pie and a website on the Internet has grown so loud that no one can figure out what’s true and what’s not. So we’re going to run the experiment and see what happens.

“I don’t think anyone really understands how the sequester is really going to work,” said Speaker of the House John Boehner.

Not even the Speaker of the House knows because it’s been a while since we’ve tested what happens when you make real cuts – cuts where federal workers actually stay home.

“We’re out of road to kick the can down. I spent the last two-plus years trying to bring this town to address this problem. And it is going to be addressed,” said Boehner.

And this means that what happens next depends on how you and I react in the coming weeks.

We’re the lab rats; they’ve dropped us into the maze, and they’ve taken away $85.4 billion dollars worth of cheese.

Now they’re waiting to see whether we cope or rebel. And if my metaphor is correct I believe at end we all get a free autopsy.

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