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Just as predicted

Apr 21, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Wyoming is learning that federal sequestration is as bad as advertised

Everyone always said that the federal budget cuts known as the sequester would be hard to take. Now Wyoming is finding that out first-hand.

For the longest time, many in Wyoming said one of two things. First, the sequester would never actually happen. The unbeatable combination of the U.S. Congress and the president of the United States would stop the madness before it was too late.

Second, sequestration would be OK. The damaging effects, the dire predictions, the fiscal horror stories wouldn't be all they were cracked up to be. Honestly, they said, we all ought to just let this happen and take our medicine.

Lo and behold, sequestration is here -- and that pill is plenty bitter.

One of the first hard lessons came when Wyoming learned that, because of sequestration, tens of millions of dollars in federal mineral royalty payments were to be suspended at least until the summer.

Whenever the words "payments" and "minerals" go together, Wyoming usually is in the middle of the discussion. Our state produces more minerals than any other, so we get a bigger share of federal royalty payments than other states.

It is easy to see what happens when that situation is reversed. Wyoming stands to lose the most money as well.

So, when sequestration was allowed to take effect, when the federal legislation drawn up to be so undesirable as to be impossible to accept actually took effect after all, the budget ax began to swing wildly. And it is hitting us.

Those in Wyoming, and those who represent Wyoming in Washington, who said the sequester either was no big deal or "necessary," (and you know who you are) might be wondering privately whether they were right or wrong to sound off in the way that they did. Fifty million dollars later, that answer is beginning to become clearer.

It is time for a repetition of our occasional question in this space: Why, when they so desperately want and need to be popular, do our elected representatives so often fail to do the simple things that would make them popular?

Or, to flip the coin, why do they continue to do things that ensure their unpopularity?

Lost mineral royalties through sequestration is the latest example, but everyone fears that it won't be the last. The track record of our national leaders in recent years hasn't been good enough to give anybody much confidence.

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