The president has a split personality when it comes to sequestration.
First, President Obama came up with sequestration — or automatic spending cuts — as a political tool to force Republicans to relent to a grand bargain as part of The Budget Control Act of 2011.
The act established a super committee of 12 House and Senate leaders to deal with deficit reduction in an amount between $1.2-$1.5 trillion dollars over 10 years. The act went on to call for the automatic spending cuts to be triggered should the committee fail to reach agreement.
Sequestration called for automatic spending cuts beginning in FY13 and continuing through FY21 in an amount of $1.2 trillion dollars.
As we know, the super committee failed to reach a grand bargain in November of 2011 and thereafter sequestration was to be implemented on Jan. 2, 2013. Congress and the president agreed to “kick the can down the road” on implementation of sequestration until March 1, 2013 hoping again a deal could be made. To date there is no real effort by the White House to avoid sequestration. The House on the other hand passed legislation to avoid sequestration while the Senate has refused to act.
Sequestration calls for cuts to “discretionary” spending to the tune of $1.2 trillions dollars split between reductions to defense in the amount of $500 billion and non-defense in the amount of $700 billion dollars.
The only way to fend off sequestration is for the House and Senate to pass a bill that the president will sign that specifically amends The Budget Control Act of 2011 by March 1, 2013. The executive branch alone cannot act unilaterally to offset mandatory reductions set forth by legislation.
The Washington Post’s Bob Woodard had this exchange with Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday” on Feb. 17:
Wallace: “Bob, as the man who literally wrote the book about the budget battle, put this to rest. Whose idea was the sequester, and did you ever think that we'd actually get to this point?”
Woodward: “First, it was the White House. It was Obama and Jack Lew and Rob Nabors who went to the Democratic Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, and said, 'this is the solution.' But everyone has their fingerprints on this.”
But that’s hardly something the president wanted to admit publicly during the third presidential debate in shortly before his November re-election when he told an audience at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.:
“First of all, the sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen.”
But the very next morning, in an off the record interview with the editors of The Des Moines Register, Obama took credit for the sequester, and said that he anticipated the sequester would be part of his economic policy together with the expiring Bush tax cuts.
Obama was quoted by the newspaper as saying:
“So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place . . . ”
Obama doubled down on the sequester back on Nov. 21, 2011, when he said this of Congress:
“My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.”
What a difference re-election has made.
Fresh from his inaugural party, with sequestration still looming — a brand new Obama has emerged to address the people of the United States with yet a completely different position.
It’s Congress’ fault again.
“. . . Just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite. It won’t help the economy, won’t create jobs, will visit hardship on a whole lot of people.
Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness. It will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.
So these cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.
“So now Republicans in Congress face a simple choice: Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investments in education and healthcare and national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations? That’s the choice . . .”
The president forgets that he is the butcher that wields the “meat cleaver” since sequestration was his idea and one that he was banking on to force Republicans to make a deal.
The president forgets that he is the commander in chief charged with the health, safety and welfare of the military so why then did he leverage them as a political pawn in his economic chess match with Republicans?
He must explain to his troops why he as their leader would sell them out.
The president also forgets that he signed the sequester bill he himself advanced. It was not a Republican proposal. Republicans initially pushed back on it but relented because they believed a “grand bargain” was possible to avoid it.
The president refuses to take responsibility for sequestration or anything else. Either he is schizophrenic when it comes to sequestration or he suffers from both short- and long-term-memory loss.
You can’t have it both ways. Mr. President you came up with sequestration. You now are forced to deal with it.
In a final taste of irony, Obama said this past week:
“As I said at the State of the Union, the American people have worked too hard, too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause yet another one. And it seems like every three months around here there’s some manufactured crisis. We’ve got more work to do than to just try to dig ourselves out of these self-inflicted wounds.”
Mr. President you manufactured the “crisis” on sequester. Sequester is a self-inflicted wound that you must attend to yourself. You could solve sequester tomorrow if you wanted to. All you would need to do is call in the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and order him to offset sequester cuts with others.
Then take your package to the House and Senate and pass a bill reflecting alternative cuts. You chose not to do so because you now want additional revenues added to the mix. Something you know is DOA.
Mr. President be careful what you wish for. You wanted sequester and now you got it.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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