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Everything We Know About What’s Happened Under Sequestration

What’s actually happened in the two months since the across-the-board budget cuts took effect?

While the White House Easter Egg Hunt was saved from sequestration, other programs haven't been so lucky. Here's our guide to what's happened since the across-the-board budget cuts took effect. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

We’ve updated our sequestration explainer to reflect new developments. It was originally published on April 11, 2013.

When the annual White House Easter Egg Hunt faced cancellation this year due to the package of mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, the National Park Service kicked into high gear. It rescued the event — held since 1878 — with money from “corporate sponsors and the sale of commemorative wooden eggs,” according to the Washington Post.

The nation’s airline passengers also caught a break last month when Congress passed (and President Obama quickly signed) a bill allowing the Federal Aviation Administration to shift some funds and halt the furloughs of air traffic controllers that had been blamed for long flight delays around the country.

But other programs haven’t been so lucky. Children in Indiana have been cut from the federally funded Head Start preschool program, and one Head Start program in Maine is being cut altogether. Furloughs have begun for employees of agencies from the U.S. Park Police to the Environmental Protection Agency. And cuts to Medicare have forced cancer clinics to turn away thousands of patients who are being treated with drugs the clinics can no longer afford.

We’ve taken a look at what’s actually happened in the two months since sequestration took effect.

Remind me, what is sequestration again?

Remember the clash over the debt ceiling back in 2011?

When Republicans and Obama struck a deal to raise it, they created a “super committee” of six Democrats and six Republicans and gave them three and a half months to hash out $1.2 trillion worth of cuts to the federal budget over the next decade. If they failed, a package of automatic cuts designed to slash funding to programs dear to both parties (military spending, in the Republicans’ case, and Medicare and other domestic programs in the Democrats’) would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

Needless to say, the super committee failed, leading to the cuts we’re seeing now.

How does this fit in with the “fiscal cliff”?

Sequestration was one element of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” which also included a number of other spending cuts and tax increases. Congress passed a last-minute deal Jan. 1 to blunt the cliff’s impact, which included pushing back the effective date for sequestration to March 1. While Obama and members of Congress spoke out against sequestration in February — Senate Democrats announced a plan to put it off for another 10 months — those efforts failed to stop the cuts.

So what’s happened since March 1?

The indiscriminate cuts affected a wide range of federal programs and departments, making them difficult to track. (Even the White House struggled to explain exactly which programs they’d hit while it was denouncing them.) Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters Feb. 28 that sequestration would have “a rolling impact, an effect that will build and build and build.”

Congress passed a bill, signed by Obama on March 26, to spare a few programs from cuts this year, including an infant nutrition program, the nuclear weapons program and funding for security at U.S. embassies abroad — a sensitive area since the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, last September. The bill also gave some agencies, including the Pentagon, more flexibility in carrying out the sequester. And last week, Congress quickly passed (and Obama signed) a bill allowing the F.A.A. to scrap its furloughs of air traffic controllers, which had been blamed for long flight delays. But neither bill reduced the total amount the government is required to cut — $85 billion, or about 2.3 percent of the $3.6 trillion federal budget — by the end of the fiscal year in October.

Gotcha. What has all this done to the economy?

The Congressional Budget Office estimates sequestration will cost around 750,000 jobs in total, and forecasters think it could reduce economic growth by half a percentage point this year. But two months into sequestration, the effects are difficult to see. The economy added a relatively respectable 165,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department reported (though the federal government shed 8,000 jobs during the same period). And defense contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, which warned that the sequester would lead to layoffs, have seen only a slight decline in their business.

Indeed, there’s at least one slice of the workforce that seems to be benefitting from sequestration: Washington lawyers. Contractors short on cash have hired attorneys to help them restructure loan payments.

Do we know any more about what’s been affected?

Yes. Sequestration is still playing out, but here’s what we know has happened so far:

Congress:

While lawmakers’ salaries are exempt from cuts, sequestration hasn’t spared congressional offices, which have had to slash spending by 8.2 percent. “Magazine subscriptions have been canceled,” the Washington Post reported. “Constituents are getting e-mail instead of snail mail. Invoices are getting a second look.” Sequestration has also cut into funding for the overseas fact-finding trips lawmakers often take, known as “codels.” House Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican, has banned his caucus from using military aircraft for codels.

The White House:

While the egg hunt was saved, the White House announced in March that it would stop giving tours due to sequestration. (Republicans criticized the decision, with Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma calling it “a dramatic overreaction.”) The White House has also furloughed 480 Office of Management and Budget staffers, and the president will voluntarily return 5 percent of his salary. Sam Kass, the assistant White House chef, has said he is also being furloughed. But Roll Call reported that the White House — which spent “more than a month of dodging questions” about the effects of sequestration on West Wing staffers —seems to have been spared from deep cuts.

Federal Agencies:

A few agencies, such as Department of Veterans Affairs, are mostly exempt from the sequester.

But the budget cuts have hit most others, sometimes with unpredictable consequences. After sequestration forced Yellowstone National Park to cut $1.75 million from its $35 million budget, the park — run by the National Park Service — trimmed its payroll and decided to cut back on snowplowing, which would delay the park’s opening. Plowing was saved only when the Cody and Jackson Hole, Wyo., chambers of commerce, fearing the economic impact of a late park opening, kicked in $170,000.

In Washington, agency after agency is planning to furlough its employees. “The Department of Housing and Urban Development,” the Washington Post reported, “will shut down for seven days starting in May, after concluding that staggering furloughs for 9,000 employees would create too much paperwork.” The Internal Revenue Service will also shut down almost entirely on furlough days. And Department of Labor employees have already started taking their furlough days, which they can do a half-day at a time.

(The Justice Department and the State Department, however, have managed to avoid furloughs.)

The Department of Labor is also planning to lay off 30 of the 74 lawyers it hired to work through a backlog of mine-safety citations that are under appeal. The department had hired the lawyers after a 2010 explosion at a mine run by a company that had received many such citations but fought them, preventing regulatory action against it. The move will save the Labor Department $2.1 million.

And while air traffic controllers won’t be furloughed, it’s unclear whether the FAA will follow through on its plans to close 149 airport control towers, most of them at rural airports. New Jersey officials, for instance, remain uncertain whether the Trenton, N.J., airport tower will be closed or receive a reprieve.

Meanwhile, IRS furloughs have the potential to be counterproductive. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew told a House Appropriations subcommittee in April that the cuts would lead the IRS to answer fewer calls and take longer to respond to taxpayer questions.

“It will also lead to fewer enforcement actions and reduce revenue collection,” Lew said — which could cost the government money rather than saving it.

The Pentagon:

Despite the bill Obama signed in March giving the Pentagon more flexibility in carrying out the sequester, it still must cut $41 billion from its budget this year, which Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described as “the steepest decline in our budget ever.” (The Pentagon has been asked to cut more before, but never halfway through the fiscal year.)

Hundreds of thousands of civilian Defense Department employees will likely have to take 14 furlough days by October, though it’s unclear which branches will face them. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said that everything from salaries and benefits to the number of generals and admirals could be cut.

Medicare:

Cancer clinics in March began turning away thousands of Medicare patients being treated with expensive chemotherapy drugs, which the clinics say they can no longer afford. “Legislators meant to partially shield Medicare from the automatic budget cuts triggered by the sequester, limiting the program to a 2 percent reduction — a fraction of the cuts seen by other federal programs,” the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff reported. “But oncologists say the cut is unexpectedly damaging for cancer patients because of the way those treatments are covered.” Medicare has said that it doesn’t have the power to restore funding for the drugs. (Rep. Renee Ellmers, a North Carolina Republican, introduced a bill that would reverse the cuts, but the legislation remains in committee.)

Education:

The federally funded Head Start early education program is expected to lose around 70,000 of its roughly 1 million slots due to sequestration. Those cuts have already hit children in Indiana, where Head Start programs in two towns resorted to a lottery system in March to determine which kids could remain. A Head Start program in Birmingham, Ala., will shut down for 10 weeks this summer, and one in Pejebscot, Maine, will close for good. Other Head Start programs — such as one in Passaic County, N.J., that expects to lose about $200,000 of its roughly $4 million in federal funding — won’t have to wrestle with cuts until the fall. A program in Colorado Springs faced with cutting 142 spots this fall had children decorate empty chairs that it has sold for $500 apiece to raise money. It has saved two spots so far.

The Head Start cuts have come even as the president called for a massive expansion of preschool.

Sequestration is also hitting schools on Indian reservations, where federal funds can make up 60 percent of a school’s budget. The Fort Peck Indian reservation in Montana “can’t hire a reading teacher in an elementary school where more than half the students do not read or write at grade level,” according to the Washington Post. Summer school may be cancelled. And the Red Lake reservation in Minnesota — where a shooting at the high school left seven people dead in 2005 — has cut its security staff, as well as course offerings and support staff, in response to sequestration.

Scientific Research:

The sequester has also hacked away at funding for scientific research. The National Science Foundation expects to make 1,000 fewer grants this year. Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., will admit fewer science and engineering graduate students. And the directors of the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories expect that the “drop in funding will force us to cancel all new programs and research initiatives, probably for at least two years.”

More than 50 Nobel laureates have signed a letter protesting the cuts, which Hunter R. Rawlings III, the president of the Association of American Universities, has also decried. “To put it kindly, this is an irrational approach to deficit reduction,” he told a Senate committee in February. “To put it not so kindly, it is just plain stupid.”

Court System:

Sequestration has cut the federal judiciary’s budget by almost $350 million for the 2013 fiscal year, which is already half over. In Massachusetts, public defenders will have to take 16½ furlough days — which could lead to a backlog in the court system — and funding for drug and mental health services will be cut by 20 percent. In Dallas, the public defender’s office will shut down every Friday for the next six months. In California, the U.S. District Court of the Northern District will shutter its courtrooms in San Francisco, San Jose and Eureka on the first Friday of every month through September. And in Nebraska, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf said he is “seriously considering” dismissing some criminal cases.

The sequester also has the potential to impact terrorism cases.

Public defenders representing Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a former Al Qaeda spokesman and a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden charged with conspiring to kill Americans, have requested that a federal judge push back the trial date because of furloughs in their office. “It’s extremely troublesome to contemplate the possibility of a case of this nature being delayed because of sequestration,” Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said in Federal District Court in Manhattan. “Let me say only that — stunning.”

And the Massachusetts public defender’s office, which is representing Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, still has to deal with furloughs. "No one knows exactly how it will affect things," a federal court official told ABC News.

Wow. Anything else?

Sequestration has led a number of states to cut their emergency unemployment benefits. Programs designed to help victims of domestic violence have had their funding slashed.  And less federal funding has meant to cuts to Meals on Wheels programs in places such as Roanoke, Va, which recently started a waiting list. "We've never had a waiting list," Michele Daley, the director of nutrition services at the Local Office on Aging, which administers Meals on Wheels in four Virginia counties, told the Huffington Post. "This is the first time ever and it's a direct result of sequestration."

Has anybody beside the FAA beaten sequestration?

Yes. Weeks before the sequester hit, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack started describing how his department would have to furlough meat inspectors if the cuts went through, forcing meat-processing plants to shut down on furlough days. His talk convinced the meat inspectors’ union and other industry heavyweights to start lobbying. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation went to work, and the Senate ended up moving $55 million from other Agriculture Department programs to the inspectors.

Read David A. Fahrenthold and Lisa Rein’s excellent Washington Post story for more details.

The pet industry also successfully lobbied (yes, the pet industry has a lobbying group) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore overtime and weekend inspections of commercial wildlife imports and exports, including exotic snakes, birds and lizards bound for American homes. But the decision may not be as silly as it sounds — the importers and exporters pay substantial fees for the inspections.

How can I keep up with the sequester?

Here are some great resources for tracking the overall impact:

Mother Jones has examples of how sequestration has played out in each of the 50 states.

The Washington Post is charting the sequester’s projected and actual impact on federal agencies.

Government Executive is tracking furloughs by department and agency.

We’ve compiled some of the best charts and graphics explaining the sequester.

Have you seen any good reporting, graphics or other resources on sequestration’s impact? Tweet us your recommendations with #muckreads.

The sequestration is a tax cut.

It means less will have to be paid for government ‘stuff.’ This is a simple fact - no matter which you spin it.  But you won’t hear that from your favorite media outlet. You won’t hear that from Huffington Post, or the WP.

...but then again. It is *so* terrible the Al Queda operative Sulaiman Abu Ghaith will have to delay his trial. So sad.

Now if the Republicans will stand strong and cut no more deals, maybe the budget will start getting reigned in.

Bottom line, as I see it, sequestration was designed by the Republicans and the Democrats as a motivation/self punishment tactic to force themselves to find ways to reduce the deficit by a certain date or else.  Instead, it backfired and the ominous else became a sad, unfair negative “pay-it-forward” kind of situation mostly punishing those most in need.

Don’t forget to address how Sequestration is falling out in the states—an area where most of us will feel the most immediate effects.  North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory included a $135 million cut to the UNC system in his 2013-14 budget proposal.

If federal workers would be treated like other Americans, we would not be having the ‘spending’ problem that has caused this political impasse. 

Specifically, consider this.  The Employee Benefit Retirement Institute estimated the less than 10% of private-sector employees receive guaranteed retirement pensions.  Meanwhile, 100% of the federal workforce receives such benefits.  IMHO, public-sector employees should not be treated as a privileged class of American.  Add to this their retirement health care benefits and early retirement opportunities.

Members of Congress from both political parties, as well as the President, refuse to accept the fact that we are Americans too.  Unfortunately, all too many politicians have held much more that a year or two in the private-sector and have little appreciation of what actual ‘work’ truly is.

This is a typical example of being able to identify some effects but losing sight of sight of others
.
There will be many good and some not so good programs which will be cut by sequestration
.
On the other hand there is no free lunch. Expenditures without offsetting income eventually leads to inflation. As we steal money from those who have saved, it will be difficult to track the costs, but there will be costs which all will pay.

If we increase taxes to compensate for the expenditures there will also be costs, again difficult to track.

Maybe it is a matter of religion or a basic cultural attitude. Watching ones expenditures, as against profligate spending, leads to overall improvement.

For too long the government on all levels have spent money on what they felt they should and then looked to pay for it.
We need to do the opposite - determine what we have and then find the best way to spend it.
For the people working in the public sector - I feel for them but one of the big issues is parity. Their benefits are so much richer than the private sector and while they will feel the pinch now - who wouldn’t love to have their retirement package? Their medical benefits?

Thank goodness we saved the nuclear weapons program.  Being able to wipe out the planet hundreds of times over for decades simply isn’t enough in a world without a rival superpower.

I’m sure Kim Jong-Un is quaking in his boots that we have a thousand and one missiles for every one of his, rather than merely a thousand.

If there’s a place to cut, I’m thinking that’s it.  When you can turn the entire surface of your planet into glass in a few hours, you don’t need to spend any more.  You’re done.

I could also point out that we fund multiple air forces, multiple space programs, multiple continuity of government programs, and all sorts of spying on Americans that also cost a pretty penny.  And didn’t we spend a good decade laughing at the money the Soviet Union wasted marching their military around Afghanistan?  You’d think we could save a bit, there, especially given Donald Rumsfeld’s proclamation (September 10, 2001) that the Pentagon wastes about two trillion dollars a year in duplicate programs and an inability to get ideas from the field to decision-makers.

And, of course, we also like to neglect the obvious.  Rather than worrying over taxes to cover the debt (which assumes that we’re serfs, rather than informed citizens), the government could just get into banking and get revenue from the interest, like Ben Franklin recommended.

Aw, the banks that have been abusing its customers and threatening to destroy the US economy would be harmed by that…?  Well, that’s just another upside, to my hearing.

It’s not “capitalist”?  Neither is a company that makes a profit without producing anything of value.

I guess it is all a matter of age.

Having grown up when the whole world was terrified of Hitler and the German armies; when France was defeated and England was lying helpless; when our newly drafted soldiers were training with broomsticks because there were no weapons available, I have a tendency to err on the side of more armaments.

When North Korea rattles its sword, I do not wish to worry. When China sends its navy into its neighbors waters I want to know that we can protect our friends and our interests. When Iran threatens the destruction of Israel I hope that President Obama has the wherewithal to protect their backs as promised.

If you think that all problems arise from capitalist banks or corporate greed, then please explain Boston, the dead children and the multitude of maimed.

To Neal Denver. It’s really too bad that you don’t know what you are talking about. As a government worker for the past 20 years, I can tell you that we all contribute to the retirement plan. And for your information, retirement equals just one percent of your last three highest salary, plus Social Security as that is part of the federal retirement package. So, someone who made 73,000, would get about $730 a month. Considering rents and mortgages are at least $1,000, how do you expect to live on that? There are reports, generally through Republicans, that governmental employees are making more than their civilian counterparts. True, but only for those who are above a grade 7 and that is maybe two percent more than the civilian jobs.

Having been employed in the civilian sector for more years than I can count before becoming a government worker, they can and do play fast and loose with labor laws. You can be fired for any trivial reason, including, as had happened in my case, rehiring a person who quit twice before and when she decided to come back, her position she held was gone, so she went after mine and after five years, I was terminated. Oh, and she was sleeping with the boss.

Government employees often need to work weekends and nights and because of the budget constraints, no overtime, but you can take comp. time. So before you go blaming government employees for all the ills of this pathetic Congress who want the middle class and working poor to give up everything, while protecting their campaign contributors and special interest groups from higher taxes, get some facts.

Joanne: That is unfortunately not true, but a common belief among the ‘private sector’  As a government federal employee these last 20 years, I pay about $300 a month for health insurance, it isn’t a given.The government pays part, but the health insurance does not carry over to retirement. Some State workers get that benefit,  especially in NY, but not federal workers.

Politics is the main thing that’s happened. Blame the GOPers is the game. Ignore the fact the sequestration was Obama’s idea and made law by the Democratic Senate.

There are so many programs in our Federal government that duplicate the efforts of others.  Instead of cutting everything back, we need someone to go through ALL the Federal agencies and (1) combine the ones that do the same jobs (making them more streamlined); (2) get rid of the ones we no longer need; and (3) review all salaries and retirement benefits to make sure they are all standardized.  We can certainly do without the farm subsidy, the oil subsidy, and a whole bunch of other ridiculous, no longer needed, subsidies!  It’s heart breaking to see cancer patients, small children, elderly, having to go without very important programs in lieu of more money for nuclear power, etc.  Has everyone gone totally insane? 

As for who to blame….sure, President Obama put the sequester in play; however, it was the GOP who decided to take their ball and go play somewhere else!  No ONE person is to blame for what’s happening….and, isn’t it interesting that the GOP was quick to vote against the FAA and letting air traffic controllers go (especially the week before their usual weekly vacation)?

Let sequestration continue. The government needs to learn how to manage.
Now we have the train wreck of Obamacare and amnesty coming. Let them whine.

I suggest everyone read Dean Baker of CEPR.net.

Emmett Smith

May 7, 2013, 3:33 p.m.

Eliminate the Dept of Education and FEMA to start with

Bruce Fernandes

May 7, 2013, 4:10 p.m.

What we really found out is we can do with less government.  We do NOT need government to orchestrate how we live every last aspect of our daily lives.

And we certainly do not need a president who deliberated and decided to deliberately make life heck for airline travelers who by in large are responsible for a lot of economic activity in this country.

When all is said and done there were no real cuts as the word “cut” is defined in dictionaries.  We had reductions in rate growth after several years of ginormous growth in most areas of government.

If Obama’s agenda was to smash and grab from the rich it has not worked as anyone with a well structured investment portfolio has been the biggest winners over the past four years.  All Obama has managed to accomplish is scare the rich out of pursuing opportunities that could lower unemployment if new business initiatives were put into place by the rich.  The rich are quite content to sit on their cans thru this Obama cycle and get rich from stock holdings rather than take business risks that will only be rewarded with higher taxes and employer mandates that cost far too much to justify the business risk in the first place.

Charlie Fetscher

May 7, 2013, 4:49 p.m.

Since the sequester, the Dow Jones Industrial Index of 30 major companies ROSE 1000 points.  Wall Street AND Main Street saw through the WH scare tactics mainly aimed at “Makers”, air travel, WH tours, meat inspections, Blue Angels.

Pallleeeeeze, a bloated economy of $3.2 TRILLION dollars cannot handle a 2% cut?

There are REAL cuts which are affecting “Takers”, but nobody seems to care.  As for the DOD, there’s plenty of fat and overlap,

That said, I still think both sides will see diminishing returns and come up with a surprisingly robust agreement including more tax increases and deficit reductions by the end of the summer.

Maybe the government should learn to do more with less as has all the “little people” who have to bear the burden of the beast because it is not the super wealthy Republicans and especially the super wealthy Democrats (who are the new breed of welfare queens) that will pay anything.

Gio Wiederhold

May 8, 2013, 2:26 a.m.

The treasury department is giving its IRS agents furlough days.
Yes that means that less taxes will be collected.
And it will help corporate revenues, and raise the Dow Jones index.
But it won’t help balance the budget.
Ginsights

Charlie Fetscher

May 8, 2013, 3:37 p.m.

The furlough are not cutting spending - just holding on waiting for the ‘grand bargain’.  I’m surprised Obama didn’t blame the Boston bombing on the sequester.  !

Rugeirn Drienborough

May 10, 2013, 10:45 a.m.

“And cuts to Medicare have forced cancer clinics to turn away thousands of patients who are being treated with drugs the clinics can no longer afford.”

Cancer clinics do not buy medication. They prescribe it, just like every other medical provider. Patients then buy their medications - that is, if they can afford it.

I’m a five-year cancer survivor. I know.

Bruce Fernandes

May 10, 2013, 11:56 a.m.

If we are going to engage in this false argument that w/o government all is lost then we will have succumbed to the notion that government should in fact provide everything for everybody.

If that is the case then perhaps 100% of our paychecks should go to government and then a truly compassionate government can return to us the amount they deem necessary for us to live to the entent of life’s little extras….. but the good news under my scenario is government will provide everything you really need from cradle to grave in return.

Unfortunately, there are too many Americans that would actually buy into that notion of how to live life rather than exercise freedom of choices and take personal responsibility for actions taken all throughout your lives that result in the present circumstances you live in.

The little problem with my scenario is politicians would be the deciders of what you need and would surely keep more so that you get less so that you get what they think you need.

What’s next?  Should government be the ultimate decider of what we eat and what we drink?  Oh, that’s right, Mayor Bloomberg has already attempted to install such policies.

What is wrong in our society is the failure of too many individuals to believe that government can solve our problems.  The fact is for all of my life the education system has been in a shambles and continues to further deteriorate. 

I once met the late Sen. Alan Cranston (D-CA) at an event and asked him to name six things he thought government does well.  There was no microphone around and he actually said that is a trick question and was unwilling to put forth an answer.  GOVERNMENT TAKES ON 10,000 TASKS AND DOES MOST OF THEM 1/2 ASSED!!!  If government would take on say 600 tasks and did them extremely well I can assure you there would be better belief and better goodwill towards government.

For all of Obama’s rantings at the rich the fact is we are getting richer because the FED interest rate policies have fueled a speculative boom from which only the rich can truly benefit.

You all need to look around at the overall reality of the sequester and recognize that real cuts in government is what is needed simply because government cannot be trusted to do many things right or well.

The biggest fear by government is if the sequester is successful then for the first time a broad portion of the population begins to realize that government is in so many things and they don’t need to be involving themselves in all of these things.  Then you can build a broader consensus toward true reduction in government and there is no greater fear of a politician or bureaucrat then allowing the idea that people can do with less government to take hold in our society.

Medicare patients with cancer are being turned away as the physician practices would fail due to the high cost of drugs. Research spending has increased and 50% of the Science budget under Obama is for defense.  The military cuts have all but been restored under Obama’s budget. SS never contributed to the fiscal farce as it is self-funding and stable to 2032.  If the top 5% paid their taxes the SS would be stable forever.  Medicare is the most efficient system and 10x less expensive than private insurance.  The head of Healthcare gets $160 million in salary the head of Medicare gets $150,000.  Private insurance is 6-10 times more expensive then medicare.

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