Schieffer: D.C. underestimated its own ineptitude

(CBS News) Ronald Reagan used to say that for all our differences, if we were attacked by aliens from outer space, Earth's people would come together and defend the planet.

All that space junk crashing into Siberia made me wonder, though. Was he right? Probably.

But after watching Washington's blundering effort to deal with the so-called sequester, I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.

Mind you, these automatic cuts in spending that go into effect March 1 are Washington's own doing. The law cuts spending programs to the bone, it ends Head Start, reduces the number of food inspectors, insures longer lines at airports because of massive furloughs of federal workers -- not to mention layoffs at ship yards and on and on and on, all of which would probably cause a recession.

The idea was that no sane person would allow such cuts to happen, which (it was theorized) would force Congress and the White House to take responsible steps to slow down deficit spending.

Well, guess what: Even Washington managed to underestimate its own ineptitude.

The sequester and the draconian cuts are about to happen, because the White House and Congress cannot close the partisan divide and figure out what to do about them.

There is some good news. If aliens DO attack, our leaders will be well-rested to meet the challenge. After Congress left town Friday for yet another vacation, the president flew to Florida for some golf.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.