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A new song for America -- wasting away in Sequesterville

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    Reuters

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    Feb. 26, 2013: The Capitol dome in Washington

The Broadway musical "Annie" is enjoying another revival on Broadway. The show opened during the Carter administration when America was in need of some optimism. "The sun'll come out tomorrow," sang Annie, and with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, for a while, it did.

Now we're back in "Hooverville," the name given to shanty towns that popped up during the Great Depression. It isn't that bad yet, though the Obama administration is forecasting gloom and doom if Republicans don't cave on another tax increase.

"We'd like to thank you Herbert Hoover for really showing us the way," sang the fictional residents of "Hooverville" in "Annie." Now, I think we need an updated song that reflects what this administration has given us and so I offer these original lyrics to be sung to the tune of "Margaritaville." All together now:

Millions on food stamps

Finding jobs? No chance

Government spending has put us in hock

Taxing and spending

Without any ending

If we go on like this we'll all be in shock.

Wasting away today in new Sequesterville

Searching for some honest pols in D.C.

Some people claim that just one party's to blame

But I know the real problem is we.

Yes, the real problem is that too many of us send these politicians from different parties to Washington only to then complain about the gridlock. It's because too many of us haven't made up our minds what we want government to be, what we should expect from it and, more importantly, what we should expect from ourselves.

The entire sequester scenario is about delivering the House of Representatives to Democrats in 2014. The Washington Post last week exposed that strategy. "Obama, fresh off his November re-election," writes the Post, "began almost at once executing plans to win back the House in 2014, which he and his advisers believe will be crucial to the outcome of his second term and to his legacy as president. He is doing so by trying to articulate for the American electorate his own feelings -- an exasperation with an opposition party that blocks even the most politically popular elements of his agenda."

Furloughing people from government jobs is part of the process, but unnecessary. According to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, tax revenue could hit $2.7 trillion in 2013. Government doesn't lack revenue. Government lacks restraint.

On Monday, the first regular workday under sequestration, federal agencies posted more than 400 job ads. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is predicting long lines at major airports due to anticipated furloughs and yet, according to CNS News, the Transportation Security Administration spent $50 million late last month on new uniforms, some of which will be manufactured in Mexico.

The government is not so broke that it can't find $250 million in aid to send to Egypt.

Jim McElhatton of The Washington Times discovered federal purchasing records that show "The Environmental Protection Agency spent nearly $40,000 on a portrait of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, while a painting of Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley will cost $41,200. ... The price tag for a 3-by-4-foot oil portrait of Agriculture Department Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack: $22,500."

In a digital age when photographs can be made to look like oil paintings, the government could have saved a lot of money by taking a high-resolution picture of these "public servants," or even better, asking them to pay for their own portraits.

Voters had better pay attention to this stuff, otherwise liberal politicians will cause them to fall for more lies. Remember the judge and jury in the musical "Chicago"? Shyster lawyer Billy Flynn explained how to win them over, singing:

"Give 'em the old razzle dazzle

Razzle Dazzle 'me.

Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it

And the reaction will be passionate

Give 'em the old hocus pocus

Bead and feather 'me

How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

...Razzle dazzle them and they'll never catch wise."

Thus ends this mixed musical metaphor tribute to the phoniness that consumes Washington, as we waste away in Sequesterville.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.