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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Again, Obama Places Campaigning Over Sequester Solution

“Too often with this White House, the solution to any challenge is ramping up campaign-style events. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail." ~ Charlie Cook, National Journal.
by AF Branco
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York notes today, “There's no doubt President Obama is using the so-called Washington Monument maneuver in the fight with Republicans over sequestration budget cuts. It's a time-honored tactic of bureaucratic warfare: When faced with cuts, pick the best-known and most revered symbol of government and threaten to shut it down. Close the Washington Monument and say, ‘See? This is what happens when you cut the budget.’ Meanwhile, all sorts of other eminently cuttable government expenditures go untouched.”

Indeed, Republicans have long said that more targeted cuts of the same amount would be preferable to the current unfocused approach that the president is spending so much time campaigning against. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier this week, “Surely the President won't cut funds to first responders when just last year Washington handed out an estimated $115 billion in payments to individuals who weren’t even eligible to receive them, or at a time when 11 different government agencies are funding 90 different green energy programs. That would be a terrible and entirely unnecessary choice by a President who claims to want bipartisan reform.”

Writing at National Review Online yesterday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) added, “Instead of more blame and explanation, it’s time for leadership. At the beginning of this year, Republicans worked with the president to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. We approved a two-month delay of the sequester, intended to provide room and time for a larger solution. House Republicans have also passed multiple bills to replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts. Senate Democratic majority leader Harry Reid blocked these bills and never allowed them to get a vote. . . . Sequestration is about living up to the promises of cutting government spending. America has a spending problem and Washington cannot ignore it any longer.”

But, as ever, President Obama is more interested in campaigning and pointing fingers than working across the aisle to find a solution. Politico writes today that Obama “has been so certain of his campaign skills that he didn’t open a line of communication with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell until Thursday, a week before the spending ax hits. And when they did finally hear from Obama, the calls were perfunctory, with no request to step up negotiations or invitations to the White House.” Further, Politico notes, “Obama’s all-in on an outside strategy, doing just about everything other than holding serious talks with Republicans. In the last two days alone, he’s courted local TV anchors, called in a select group of White House correspondents to talk off the record, chatted up black broadcasters and announced plans to stump next week at Virginia’s Newport News Shipyard. Throughout, he’s talked in tough terms that signal little interest in compromise — or suggestion of backing down.”

Even New York Times columnist David Brooks is tired of seeing this same movie over and over again starring the president: “Under the Permanent Campaign Shimmy, the president identifies a problem. Then he declines to come up with a proposal to address the problem. Then he comes up with a vague-but-politically-convenient concept that doesn’t address the problem (let’s raise taxes on the rich). Then he goes around the country blasting the opposition for not having as politically popular a concept. Then he returns to Washington and congratulates himself for being the only serious and substantive person in town. Sequestration allows the White House to do this all over again. The president hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration, let alone one that is politically plausible.”

Sen. McConnell has summed it up like this:“The President and the Senate Majority have known about this deadline for more than a year. Yet, here we are, just days before this so-called sequester is set to hit, and a familiar scenario is playing out once again.

“It goes something like this: Phase 1: Republicans identify a challenge and propose a solution. Phase 2: Liberals sit on their hands until the last minute. Phase 3: They offer some gimmicky tax hike bill designed to fail – then blame everyone else when it does. Phases 1 and 2 have gone exactly according to plan. House Republicans proposed and passed plans to replace the sequester months ago. And as if on cue, Senate Democrats then doggedly refused to consider any of them, much less offer any of their own. So, here we are — again — at Phase 3, which means it’s now time for them to swoop in with the gimmick.

“If [Democrats] were the least bit serious about a solution, they’ve had more than a year to write a bill in committee, bring it to the floor, vote on amendments, get it to the House, and fix this!"
House Speaker Boehner pointed out today,"The House of Representatives passed legislation – twice (last May and again in December) – to replace President Obama’s sequester with smarter, responsible spending cuts and reforms. Senate Democrats haven’t passed a thing. But instead of urging Senate Democrats to take action, the president seems more interested in campaigning (and blaming Republicans for his mess):
  • “Obama’s been virtually absent from the legislative process” of replacing his sequester, reports Politico. After getting the $600 billion in tax hikes he wanted last month (with no spending cuts), “there has been no discernible effort by the White House to work on a bill that might pass.”
  • “The Obama administration seems to be spending far more time warning of the consequences of the sequester — and blaming Republicans for it — than engaging in actual negotiations that would prevent it,” says ABC News
  • “The president hasn’t actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration,” says David Brooks in the New York Times, “let alone one that is politically plausible.”
  • “Tuesday's event had the feeling of a campaign commercial that went too far to be believed,” says the Los Angeles Times
  • Politico says calls to GOP leaders were “perfunctory,” meant to “inoculate” the president from criticism that he’s campaigning instead of urging Senate Democrats to follow the House and pass legislation replacing his sequester. Their headline asks, “Is President Obama overplaying sequester hand?
Underlying all of this is the fact that the president’s budget is late (again) and his Democratic-controlled Senate hasn’t passed a budget in nearly four years."

Tags: Obama, Campaigning, sequester, press articles, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 2:59 PM - Post Link

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