Sequestration: what really happened (and didn’t)

The sequestration fight has been rougher on President Obama than I had earlier predicted. It is now clear that Obama has overplayed his hand with the sequestration talks. I thought (and I’m sure Obama thought too) the media would do what it has done for over four years and spout off Obama’s talking points verbatim, painting Obama as the man who could save us all if only the republicans would accept another round of tax hikes “reasonable” solutions. Unfortunately for Obama, a couple of things played out that prevented that from happening to its full potential.

sequestration_0The first was Obama’s ridiculous choice to fly down to Florida two weeks before the sequestration deadline to golf with Tiger Woods. Any other president would have been skewered for this, but the main stream media is so deep in tank for Obama, he has been free to make all of the bad decisions he has wanted with relative impunity. This time however, he kept the media in the dark during the golf outing.

This had the opposite effect of Obama’s intentions. Instead of a quiet outing with a celebrity, the blackout became a big story, shining a larger spotlight on the golf outing. The reason for the blackout was also plainly obvious to even the lowest information voter. No president should be out golfing with celebrities when the sequestration deadline is looming.

Had this been the only hit the president had taken, Obama would still be fine, as the media quickly forgave him and was happy to play along with his sequestration rhetoric — mainly the lie that the Republicans were the cause of it and it was going to be terrible. We were going to see dams breaking, airplanes falling out of the sky (yet our editor made her trip to D.C. safely Sunday), poor kids on school lunch programs going hungry, etc…

Making matters worse, Obama’s cabinet leaders were hell-bent on ensuring this Armageddon was here.  Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security released thousands of criminal illegal aliens from jail, the Navy decided to delay a carrier battle group from deploying to the Persian Gulf, government agencies are furloughing or laying off government workers instead of finding less impacting ways to cut from their budgets. One way or another, the sky is going to fall.

Unfortunately for Obama, respected journalist (and no friend of the right) Bob Woodward came out to remind us that sequestration was an idea conceived and drafted by Obama and his staff during the debt ceiling negotiations in 2011. Moreover, the idea that the president of the United States would sit idly by and allow the delay of an aircraft carrier deployment to the world’s most unstable region over a piece of paper is “Madness.”

This too may have also blown over or been quickly buried had Gene Sperling, Obama’s director of the national economic council not threatened Woodward, telling him he would regret doing this. In response, Woodward hit the cable news circuit to tell the story. This hurt Obama in three ways: it reminded us Obama was the originator for sequestration; it showed the lengths he and his administration are willing to go to keep this inconvenient fact from reaching the public; and, it exposed the Chicago style manner by which Obama and his ilk play.

Obama had to retreat quickly and retreat he did. Softening his rhetoric, this suddenly was not going to to be as bad as he had originally proclaimed. We may not even notice the effects of sequestration for months. Making matters worse for him, the Republicans came up with a plan that would have allowed Obama to choose where he wanted the cuts to go to. Naturally the man whose best skill is enraging mobs to do his bidding balked at the idea he may actually have to make a real decision. Fortunately for Obama, Senate democrats bailed him out and rejected the bill.

Jason Blair is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter @jasonblair79

Jason Blair is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter @jasonblair79

Late on Mar. 1, Obama made a meek statement and sheepishly signed the very sequestration paper he had originally drafted. So far the sky is still intact and kids are still eating school lunches. With Gallop showing Obama’s approval numbers dropping down into the mid 40s, it appears his protective coating is beginning to crack a little. Republicans haven’t scored a victory in this by any means, but neither has Obama.

As the effects of sequestration begin to trickle out, there is little doubt Obama is going to continue to try to paint republicans as the evil ones who could have stopped this. The right needs to continue to make the case that these are only cuts in the rate of increase. Meaning, every government agency will be getting at least the same amount of money they received in the previous year and most will see a little more. If republicans can effectively make this case, it should resonate to the American people who have little to show for in the way of increased wages but a lot to show for in increased taxes.

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Comments

  1. carloshelms says:

    “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his.” – Ronald Reagan

    I realize that some people will be absolutely giddy over sequestration prospects. I mean, when el presidente looks bad, we can all pat ourselves on the back and give high-fives and whoo-hoos. That said, it’s looking like I’ll be furloughed. Something like 10-20% of my income until something gets settled. And l’m considered “essential.” My work won’t just go away. The estimates of 700,000 gov’t and contract workers similarly affected aren’t just horror-stories. I’m guessing that at least some of them, like me, actually accomplish work.

    Now that I know what “depression” is…what say we set out on the road to recovery? The latest rendition of Jimmah Carter needs to go.

  2. Good one Mr. Blair. I do note that the Speaker B. commented that no one had a solution to the current financial situation but at the very least President O. is taking a shot at it. We will allow the illegal aliens comment to slide on by as it seems that they were rather intelligent about their releases and where and how. And it does seem that the reductions are being thought out. Going back a long ways it would seem that we, as a nation, have had financial difficulties before and have successfully worked through the problem. Hopefully we can co operate enough to do the same here.

  3. Carloshelms,

    First, thank you for reading the column.

    I feel very bad for you and others in your position. You are being used as pawns in a very serious situation. I know there are very valuble people working hard everyday in our government. I also know (as I’m sure you know) there is a lot of waste that could be cut in place of furloughing. Furloughing is lazy, does nothing to actually solve the problem of waste in our government and is mearly designed to increase suffering and thus put pressure on the legislature to accept Obama’s agenda. I find it personally repulsive and I hope they can find a better way than this to solve our long term spending problems.

    Jason Blair

    • carloshelms says:

      I appreciate it, Jason.

      No one seems to want to address waste and fraud to the extent that it needs to be addressed. Even my old GOP rep was good at “bringing home the pork.” Special interests are apparently an entire class of citizens in DC.

      Lots of people gettin’ rich (I mean REALLY rich) on their $175K/yr. Quite a gig if one can pull it off.

  4. Jason, I agree, there are no winners, but Congress needs to get serious about spending cuts. We need Draconian cuts otherwise what is the alternative? Borrow more? Tax more? If we don’t take the pain now, we’ll end up with more pain later.

  5. Pamela,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. These cuts are just a fraction of the massive problem staring down on us. Real change will be painful and is going to have to include entitlements in addition to discretionary spending. Unfortunately this is a third rail neither side is willing to go near. One way or another we’re going to have to or wind up like Rome. We all know what the world was like after that fell…

    • carloshelms says:

      Dark Ages…or another age of darkness ushered in by immorality.

      A thousand-year enema…or is this really “it”?

  6. Great job Jason
    Who would have thought the media would begin a slight turn by Obama’s golf outing
    Agreed had this been his only misstep, it would be likely swept away, but IMHO it was the media’s reminder to BO that we built you, and we can take you down too

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