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The chaos of the sequester

Regarding the March 2 news article “Cuts not likely to go away soon”:

I strapped on my body armor, brought along two extra ammo magazines and prepared to go out for my usual Saturday-morning breakfast. As I peered out my front door, I immediately realized something was very wrong. The sun was shining! How could this be?

For the past several months, I was assured by my president that once the evil Republican plot (a.k.a. sequester) kicked in, criminals would run wild in the streets, children would starve and the military would be powerless to stop al-Qaeda. He didn’t mention the sun going dark, but surely, that was to be expected as well.

I was prepared for a post-nuclear apocalyptic world straight out of Hollywood’s worst nightmare, so you can imagine my confusion when the day seemed bright and sunny. Suspecting a trap, I was hyper-alert on my drive to the diner. I wrote this as I finished my second cup of coffee after an excellent breakfast of pancakes. My fellow diners seemed as confused as I was to have made it that far into the sequester without falling prey to the chaos our president described.

Ken Elrod, Ponte Vedra, Fla.

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As an assistant federal public defender, I sometimes have reason to think, “You can’t make this up,” about the unique facts and arcane rules my work entails. Now I realize that I’ve got nothing on Congress.

This is the Congress whose pay is exempt from the sequester, although even the least cynical among us may ask: How much less can they accomplish if they were furloughed — a reality I now face after years with no raises and hardly an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

This is the Congress in which a leader of one chamber deems it appropriate to publicly complain that the other chamber needs to “get off their ass.” A nice example for high school debate teams.

This is the Congress that accuses the president of playing politics when he dares to point out the real-world implications of the sequester.

Many of my friends worked on Capitol Hill out of college, and I covered Congress as a reporter nearly 30 years ago. I got chills walking its halls, thinking what grand debates and noble compromises were made in places I sat, stood or walked.

Now, Congress gives me very different chills.

Paul G. Gill, Richmond

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