Saturday, February 9

Calling Obama's Bluff On Sequestration

Barack ObamaLet me be honest. I am not a fan of President Obama, or the tactics he has used in his four years as President. He continually strikes me as having his nose up in the air, looking down on the rest of us peons. That would include how he treats his political opponents and is especially true when he is "negotiating" with them over how to deal with any given issue. If you can call what he does negotiating, which is quite a stretch. While we are on the honesty track, I'll say one more thing. I don't trust President Obama to do the right thing, not even a little. He has earned that distrust, fair and square.

Remember how sequestration was a big thing when it was first announced. It was a threat, designed to make both political parties work together to begin the fix for our financial woes. It should be noted, as much as President Obama wants to deny it, that sequestration was his idea. Yes, the man with the plan came up with sequestration. The stated purpose was to help fix our financial woes. The real purpose was to drive the Republicans into a political corner they couldn't get out of. As much as I am not a fan of Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the Republican leadership in Congress, that gamble by President Obama may not have been a smart move for him.

(Human Events) For the first time since Election Day, President Obama is on the defensive. That’s because on March 1, automatic spending cuts (“sequestration”) go into effect — $1.2 trillion over 10 years, half from domestic (discretionary) programs, half from defense.

The idea had been proposed and promoted by the White House during the July 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations. The political calculation was that such draconian defense cuts would drive the GOP to offer concessions. It backfired. The Republicans have offered no concessions.

Obama’s bluff is being called and he’s the desperate party. He abhors the domestic cuts. And as commander in chief he must worry about indiscriminate Pentagon cuts that his own defense secretary calls catastrophic.

So Tuesday, Obama urgently called on Congress to head off the sequester with a short-term fix. But instead of offering an alternative $1.2 trillion in cuts, Obama demanded a “balanced approach,” coupling any cuts with new tax increases. 
I have said before, I believe President Obama needs a dose of political reality. He has been touted as a master politician and he has done a fair job of living up to the moniker. At every turn, he has boxed the Republicans into places they found hard to get out of. Having the media in his back pocket and in the face of the Republicans hasn't hurt, but that's another story. I continue to believe that now would be a good time for that dose of political reality to come down on Obama's head. The Republicans should call his bluff and make him take ownership of the political moves he has taken over the past four years.

What should the Republicans do? Nothing.

Republicans should explain — message No. 1 — that in the fiscal-cliff deal the president already got major tax hikes with no corresponding spending cuts. Now it is time for a nation $16 trillion in debt to cut spending. That’s balance.

The Republicans finally have leverage. They should use it. Obama capitalized on the automaticity of the expiring Bush tax cuts to get what he wanted at the fiscal cliff — higher tax rates. Republicans now have automaticity on their side.

If they do nothing, the $1.2 trillion in cuts go into effect. This is the one time Republicans can get cuts under an administration that has no intent of cutting anything. Get them while you can.

Of course, the sequester is terrible policy. The domestic cuts will be crude and the Pentagon cuts damaging. This is why the Republican House has twice passed bills offering more rationally allocated cuts. (They curb, for example, entitlement spending as well.)

Naturally, the Democratic Senate, which hasn’t passed a budget since before the iPad, has done nothing. Nor has the president — until his Tuesday plea.

The GOP should reject it out of hand and plainly explain (message No. 2): We are quite prepared to cut elsewhere. But we already raised taxes last month. If the president wants to avoid the sequester — as we do — he must offer a substitute set of cuts.

Otherwise, Mr. President, there is nothing to discuss. Your sequester — Republicans need to reiterate that the sequester was the president’s idea in the first place — will go ahead. 

It is time for the Republicans to stand their ground, take their message to every media source they can find, and call President Obama's bluff. He has had his way with them for far too long. I'm not sure if they have the political spine for the games that are underway, but they need to stiffen their resolve and refuse to budge. I am convinced the only possible way to achieve real compromise with Obama is to force him to a place where he has no other choice. He will not like it and will likely complain to anyone who will listen, but so be it. He is already all over the news with his campaign to push his several agendas, so that can't get much worse.

To anyone who reads this and believes I am off base in my political calculations and the ramifications that will almost certainly follow any stand taken by the Republicans, let me say this. I would prefer sequestration to not take place. I do not want to damage our economy any further, but despite what President Obama is saying about sequestration tearing our economy down further, I am not convinced that will happen. I believe it is a scare tactic, as he is apt to use. Sources that I have read and listening to lead me to believe sequestration will not necessarily harm our economy. It will not be so good for our military, but so be it. If we ever hope to wrangle real and meaningful concessions out of President Obama, we have to call his bluff and make him take ownership of his tactics and his economy. Having seen how Obama reacts when he gets boxed in, I believe it is our best hope. I see no other alternative.

Cross posted at Political Realities...If you enjoy this content, please consider subscribing to Political Realities, either via the RSS feed or the email newsletter.

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