PHOENIX, February 21, 2013 ― On March 1, $85 billion in mandatory cuts, otherwise known as budget sequestration, will take effect unless Congress and President Obama agree on another way to reduce the deficit.
It’s clear that the sequestration will hurt the economy if not avoided, as the Pentagon notified Congress Wednesday that it would be furloughing its civilian workforce of 800,000 employees.
What isn’t clear is why President Obama is now blaming these budget cuts on the Republicans in Congress, when sequestration was his proposal from the start.
On Tuesday, Obama held a press conference surrounded by first responders and other public safety officials. He demanded that Congress prevent the cuts all while putting the blame on Republicans.
“Emergency responders like the ones who are here today ‒ their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off,” Obama said Tuesday.
The question Obama should address is why he proposed these cuts, and now goes on TV to argue against them? He signed the bill that created sequestration, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney even admitted last week that “the sequester was one of the ideas put forward, yes by the president’s team.”
When the Budget Control Act of 2011 called for the creation of a Super Committee to identify $1.2 trillion in cuts, Obama knew this new committee wouldn’t come to a comprise, given its even political split among Republicans and Democrats. Automatic sequestration was almost guaranteed. Obama was present at these meetings with Congress and he fully vetted the ideas his White House proposed.
Republicans were foolish for agreeing to this bill and the Super Committee. It was a complete surrender to Obama. They’re finally seeing the consequences two years late.
Congressional Republicans are now taking the full blame and Obama is making himself look like Superman at the end of the world, but White House claims of impending economic calamity are absurd at best.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office Director, commented on the coordinated White House effort to instill economic fear, saying, “The kind of things you hear about the sequester causing a recession, it’s impossible for that to happen. This is $85 billion, it’s a $3.6 trillion budget, it’s going to come and go without notice. It’s a $16 trillion economy, this isn’t going to crater the economy.”
Republicans need to stop playing Obama’s game with the budget sequestration and tell him to put up or shut up. Republicans should be welcoming the impending sequestration; it finally cuts spending, albeit a minimal amount.
The sequestration is only 1.2 percent of the 2013 budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That $44 billion in cuts for 2013 could fund the government for four and a half days.
President Obama couldn’t care less if the sequestration happens or not. He is only looking to battle Republicans, all in an effort to take back control of the House of Representatives in next year’s election.
2014 will be a huge year for both parties; it could dramatically change the outlook on President Obama’s final two years in office. If Republicans took control of the Senate, they could stop the creation of the most liberal Supreme Court since FDR. They could advance the repeal of Obamacare with or without the president.
Obama is gridlocked for his second term. He knows this and so do Republicans. If he wants to get any of his proposed plans for his second term passed, he has to take back the House. He chose this sequestration battle to begin the overall war with Republicans, not to prevent budget cuts.
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