After months of threats, and dire predictions of doom and widespread chaos should these spending cuts take effect, President Obama still had to stand before the nation yesterday and formally announce that the sequestration cuts had begun.
A noteworthy fact is that Obama has laid the blame for this deal squarely on the doorstep of the Republicans in Congress, quite possibly the most beleaguered group in the nation’s capital city. What is even more interesting, and revolting, is that the media has given the President a free pass once again. True, a few outlets and “news-spinners” are beginning to question the President’s approach, but a vast majority are still squarely aligned with the progressive agenda, and join the President in proclaiming that the Republicans just need to be a little more tractable and willing to compromise.
The President’s continual portrayal of the Republicans as “intractable” is merely a shell game to distract from the truth that he, the President of the United States, elected leader of the free world, did nothing to work with Congress, reach across the aisle, foster a bipartisan solution to the “problem” of sequester, and lead in this difficult time. Obama has chosen to act more like a spoiled child than a leader.
Obama, rather than taking the time and thought necessary to reach such a compromise, stuck with what he does best: using campaign-style events to seek to force his will upon the benighted politicians in Congress who go by the name of “Republican;” and, by extension, on the rest of the country who do not agree with his vision for the future of America.
(One short side note here: I am a conservative foremost, not a Republican. As many different authors have pointed out in recent days, the Republicans and Democrats are much alike in many respects. Granted, there are exceptions, but this is the general rule. Most politicians in Washington are there to do what’s best for them, devil-may-care about the effect on the country.)
The President shattered many people’s expectations, descending to new lows–even for him–in striving to get Republicans to budge on this issue. He shuttled back and forth across the country in Air Force One (and where, pray tell, was the outrage of the “green” movement over this??), hosting event after campaign-style event where he proclaimed–to anyone who would listen–that these cuts would drastically affect everything about the way this country does business and defends itself. He seemed content to parade around, shouting like a three-year-old child in a full-voiced temper tantrum, and do nothing to actually govern and lead the process of resolving conflicts and avoiding these cuts. To top it off, he had the gall to proclaim–multiple times–on national television that “…there is no smart way to make these cuts.”
As the details of the sequester begin to come to light, we will see that the paltry $85 billion these cuts trims from projected spending certainly are not smart, nor are they even meaningful. In reality, the sequester is a gesture, a mere 2.4-3% trimming of the increase in spending from last year. So what does that mean? Even though the cuts have taken effect, the government budget is still going to be larger than it was last year.
So the sequester is going to be painful? Most likely. Messy? Yes. A rather unintelligent way to reduce the increase in spending? Absolutely. But, the end of the world?
The most interesting thing to me about the sequester is how the President is scrambling to distance himself from his own creation. Remember, both houses of Congress ratified this plan after Obama suggested it. From an article that appeared today in The Christian Science Monitor and on Yahoo! News:
“Both the White House and Republicans in Congress seemed spent as they sputtered out their political talking points about what everyone agrees is a lousy way to do the nation’s business.
‘It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit,’ President Obama said in his weekly radio/Internet address.”
Actually, the sequester is happening because the President refused to work with Republicans and accept someone else’s solution to the problem, for a change. Instead, he insisted on his own way, and refused to ratify any plan that did not include an additional hike in taxes. This instance of shifting blame to Congress is by no means isolated:
“Congress is poised to allow a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts to kick in that will slow our economy, eliminate good jobs and leave a lot of folks who are already pretty thinly stretched scrambling to figure out what to do. These cuts do not have to happen. Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little bit of compromise.”
Instead of allowing the sequester to trigger, President Obama wants Congress to come up with a plan that has a combination of spending cuts and higher taxes. Republicans refuse to budget on this issue and instead are drafting bills that allow Obama greater liberty in how the spending cuts will be proportioned. This means that if Obama does not want cuts to a specific area of government, then it won’t happen, but some people say that Obama already has that ability as the Executive branch of government.
Speaker of the House John Boehner was quick to respond to the President’s accusation of being a do-nothing on the issue. Back in December, he stepped out of his chair as Speaker:
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took the unusual move on Tuesday of taking to the House floor to cajole President Obama and Democrats to propose specific spending cuts they would agree on as part of a plan to avert the fiscal cliff.
“The president and I met on Sunday at the White House. It was a nice meeting, a cordial meeting,” Boehner said. “But we’re still waiting for the White House to identify what spending cuts the president is willing to make as part of the ‘balanced approach’ he promised the American people.”
Boehner said on the House floor that the plan Republicans have offered is consistent with Obama’s call for a “balanced approach” that includes cutting spending.
“Last week, Republicans made a serious offer to avert the fiscal cliff, based on testimony last year by President Clinton’s former chief of staff, Erskine Bowles. As Mr. Bowles himself said on Sunday, ‘We have to cut spending,’ ” said Boehner.
Instead of being the bigger man and accepting a compromise for the good of the country, Obama stubbornly persisted in his petulant portrayal of the GOP as the problem. He blamed the ever-growing certainty of the cuts on their inflexibility, and stated again and again that he was striving to work with Congress to take meaningful action to avert the coming crisis.
But beware a man who says something–repeatedly and with much fervor–that isn’t backed up by his subsequent actions. He’s usually lying.
Amazingly, the President is so angry, so intent on his way, that he cannot even talk the same game all the time. He stated in one press conference that the sequester would affect the way average families lived their lives, making this out to be a major event in the consciousness of the nation.
Then, in another press conference some time later, he stated that “this is not the apocalypse, it’s just dumb.”
Um, Mr. President? Please make up your mind. Is the sequester the ‘end of the world,’ as the media has been telling us for months, or isn’t it? We don’t care, one way or the other, what you say (after all, we know it’s not the end of the world)….but we do expect you to be consistent.
So, in short, the sequester–despite all the hype and media frenzy surrounding it–has become just like the end of the Mayan Long Count….one more event to add to your “Been There, Survived That, Got the T-Shirt” list.