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posted: 2/28/2013 5:00 AM

Editorial: Weary, unhappy, but ready for forced federal cuts

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

With what, if not weariness, are we left to approach Friday's new supposed precipice of disaster? Alarm? Dismay? Anger? Resentment? Disgust? Ridicule?

We've felt them all and expressed them all. Yet, here again we find ourselves and our nation, faced with the prospect that unless some new -- sigh, can we summon the strength to write the word? -- compromise occurs by midnight Thursday, new rounds of cuts will go into effect touching everything from Head Start to the military industrial complex. And our leaders, with heels dug in on both sides, each amid cries and accusations against the other, show no sign of capitulation on the least point.

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So, to our president, to our two senators, to our congressional delegation, we have just this to say: We are ready.

We don't like it. We can't believe there was no way to trim spending with a scalpel rather than a meat ax, no way to boost revenues without further burdening the poor and middle class. We're ashamed that none of our leaders appeared capable of rising beyond rhetoric.

But here we are, worn out from the pleading and scolding. So, unhappily, we're ready. We and individuals and businesses across the country have made cuts and sacrifices over the past five years. Let government jump into the process with us and better understand what it feels like.

Let the sequester come. Let the president play another 18 holes with Tiger Woods. Let the military furloughs begin. Let the security lines grow longer at airports. Let us see whether the nation will really be so horrified at the impending cuts that business grinds again to a halt.

Our leaders appear prepared to accept such a world; apparently, we must join them. But we don't have to accept them. If there is anything remotely positive to contemplate as the sequester cuts go into effect -- followed, dare we wonder?, by a full government shutdown when Washington enters Phase Two of its drive to dysfunction a month from now -- it is that perhaps the sequester cuts will stir the public outrage that their prediction could not and the politicians who refused to prevent them will face the consequences. Perhaps at last there will be political retribution for those in Washington who are not doing their jobs.

Make no mistake. We would like nothing better than to see a comprehensive, bipartisan, multifaceted, long-term deal emerge that imposes limited but shared sacrifice across all segments of the population and spares the most painful and damaging of the cuts imposed by the callous sequester. We would love for Illinois' senators and congressmen to lead the way in demonstrating the cooperation and concession needed to reach such a goal.

But we haven't seen it so far, and at some point we have to recognize that none of the rhetoric leading up to today offers promise it will suddenly appear out of the vapor.

So, we are ready to handle what we must. We expect our leaders who have brought us to this point will be equally prepared to face what they have coming.

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