The Right Opinion

Blame Game Rages on Over Looming Sequester

By Jonah Goldberg · Feb. 22, 2013

We are just days away from a cataclysm of biblical proportions. The cuts foretold in the Budget Control Act of 2011 are young as far as prophecies go, but apparently they are every bit as terrifying as rivers of blood and plagues of locusts. Any day now we can expect White House spokesman Jay Carney to take to the podium and read a prepared statement: “And when he opened the seventh seal, there was a small decrease in the rate of increase in federal spending.”

The great game in Washington is who will get the blame for something both House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama agree will be calamitous for the country. It is an argument so idiotic it could only pass for seriousness in Washington. The Republicans correctly note that the president proposed the sequester. In fact, back when the president believed that Republicans were more terrified of these automatic budget cuts than Democrats were, he pretended that he would veto any attempts to get rid of them that didn't give him even more of the tax hikes he holds so dear. Now that Republicans have already agreed to a tax hike, they'll be damned if they'll raise them even more.

Fair enough. But the GOP agreed to the idea. This wasn't some elaborate con in which John Boehner wakes up thinking March 1 is a morning like any other, only to discover $85 billion is missing.

The GOP will probably lose the public relations battle over the sequester, because that's the Republicans' job in the age of Obama. A U.S. ambassador is murdered in a terrorist attack the administration ineptly responded to – and blamed on a video – but the only real story is that Republicans are so crazy, they want to know what happened. The president nominates a middle-brow pol to run the Defense Department, one who must recant all of his well-known views in order to get the job, and the story is how irrational the GOP is for caring. If the White House dispatched a drone to circle Boehner's home, the front-page story in The New York Times would be on the speaker's troubling paranoia.

But that doesn't mean Republicans should make the White House's job easier. Which is why it's good news that the House leadership is reportedly working on legislation that would force Obama to choose where the $85 billion in cuts should come from. Both the president and Boehner agree that the across-the-board cuts required by the sequester make no sense when most agencies can find less painful ways to trim a few pennies out of every dollar.

It's unlikely that Obama will take such a deal, since he and the Democratic-controlled Senate twice rejected legislation that replaced sequester cuts with more reasonable ones. Obama wants more tax hikes and thinks he can convince the country to accept them if the choice is between what he calls reasonable revenue increases and catastrophic cuts that will let people die in the streets, leave children to go hungry and illiterate, and allow poisoned food to sit rancid on supermarket shelves.

And he's not crazy for it. This strategy has worked time and time again. If an agency has a billion-dollar budget and someone proposes cutting a dollar from its scheduled increase in funding, that dollar will be the one earmarked for the screw needed to keep a bridge from collapsing on a grade school's Thanksgiving parade.

And that is what galls me. If the sequester goes into effect, the federal budget for this year will still be larger than last year's ($3.553 trillion in 2013 vs. $3.538 trillion in 2012). With the sequester in effect, federal non-defense spending will still be 10 percent higher than it was in 2008. But Washington, led by Obama but with GOP help, is telling the American people that unless government gets an even bigger raise (with money borrowed from China, by the way), civilization will unravel, 911 calls will find no purchase and Bane shall irrevocably seize control of Gotham.

The federal government has grown inexorably for decades. Our president casts himself a Solomonic manager, and yet he is saying that absent a few extra pennies on every dollar there's no way he can maintain government's core functions? A manager in any other field of human endeavor would be fired on the spot for making such an argument. But in Washington this passes for leadership.

© 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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6 Comments

Lea in Maryland said:

Why hasn't ANYONE brought up the fact that in the third Presidential debate, Barack Obama said that the sequester will "never happen"? Really? Play that clip again, and again...

I'm so tired of the lies, because Republicans cannot seem to rebut them. Find your words and quickly!

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 11:00 AM

READY4ACHANGE in ILLINOIS said:

Let the sequester happen. Let the chips fall where they may.

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 12:19 PM

HP in Kalispell, MT said:

Yes, let it happen for the full ten years. Meanwhile, add some REAL spending cuts. Stop the automatic increases to Federal spending and cut, reduce , lower, lessen, slash, whatever, the ACTUAL spending of the Gov. Have you ever noticed that in the private sector, when a company is in financial trouble, step one is to cut everything ten percent? No rhyme or reason, just across he board cut 10%. Typically, they survive to grow again. Let the Gov do the same.

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 1:18 PM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

The incredulous stupidity on both sides of the aisle is baffling. Our country is being run by a bunch of nitwits (I'm being polite).

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 2:48 PM

billy396 in ohio said:

It only "passes for leadership" if you're one of the ignorant sycophants that believe that Obozo walks on water and would never tell a lie. After all, he's the man who won a Nobel prize just for breathing. I am constantly amazed that there are so many people who are so ignorant of the facts, and don't even want to know the facts. They'd apparently rather be led by the nose by a bunch of lying, Socialist commie clowns who care only about how quickly they can kill any freedom or personal liberty in this country. There simply MUST be some way for truth to win out. America can't possibly be built on such a shaky foundation that a simple con man from Chicago could bring us down, without even breaking a sweat, just because he knows how to continue to lie, lie, and lie some more. I don't care if there are millions of traitorous Americans who could be bought for a pig in a poke and maybe some free cell phones and extra food stamps. It;s utterly disgusting. What happened to the press who put Dan Rather in front of Bush, Sr. and asked him to explain the open lie that he didn't know anything about Iran/Contra, and that those documents that showed that he was present at the meetings must have been wrong? The Leftmedia in this country are ALL open traitors to our freedom, willing to lie and cover up Obama's every weakness. God help the youngsters of today. When they grow up and find out that they've been raised on lies, they're going to feel awfully stupid for not doing any fact-checking of their own. They deserve every misery that they face, and they will face many. I wonder what income tax rates will be 25 years from now. I'm sure that I'll be dead and gone by that time, but I'd still love to hear their rationalizations for ignoring the truth back when Obama was destroying their country.

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

The whole house of cards is built on keeping their constituents dumb, expecting free goodies, and totally unware of what is really going on. Those wonderful, stupid, low-information, welfare parasites, white do-gooders, and most college students have no clue what is happening and could care less. The most important things in their miserable little lives, are reality shows, American Idol, movie stars, rap stars, and what can I get from the all-powerful and all knowing government. We now have a generation that absolutly cannot think for themselves and are content to have someone else do it for them. If it comes out of Odumbo's mouth, the lamestream media, college professors, rappers, and movie stars it just has to be the truth. Only Conservatives and Republicans lie. Makes you wonder what will happen to the idiots when the economy completly tanks.

Friday, February 22, 2013 at 7:45 PM