Sequestration is slated to hit March 1. The automatic cuts in government spending will save $1.2 trillion over 10 years. President Obama has asked Congress for a new deal. The White House says the sequester is a threat to the middle class. They were whistling a different tune less than two years ago.
In a speech last week, Mr. Obama talked about the "the economically damaging effects of the sequester" with a straight face. Nowhere in his remarks did he acknowledge that the impending spending cuts package was his idea from the start. A triumphant Obama was the one to announce the deal both sides had agreed to for avoiding a default on U.S. debt in July 2011. A White House fact sheet at the time praised the deal as "a win for the economy and budget discipline." The sequester was mildly termed an enforcement mechanism that equally hit priorities of both parties. Importantly for the president, stressed the document, the deal didn't impact middle-class families. Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, unemployment insurance, programs for low-income families, and civilian and military retirement were exempt from cuts.
Mr. Obama is now singing the sequestration blues. He counted on Republicans in Congress to choose defense spending over fiscal restraint. "The political calculation was that such draconian defense cuts would drive the GOP to offer concessions," notes Charles Krauthammer. "It backfired. The Republicans have offered no concessions. Obama's bluff is being called and he's the desperate party."
The commander in chief has resorted to fear tactics to try to scare Congress into giving him a new deal, on his new terms. On Friday the White House released a new fact sheet on this old deal outlining the dire consequences that have suddenly materialized of allowing the sequester to go into effect. The balanced "win" from 2011 that protected the middle class is now a "harmful" attempt to protect the wealthy. Though Social Security and other low-income programs are specifically exempted from cuts under sequestration, the document mewls about the administrative help the Social Security Administration might lose. "Might" is the operative word. The fact sheet is littered with examples of all the things that "could" happen. It is appropriate language for a document that is more political propaganda than information.
This president has demonstrated an astonishing ability to ignore inconvenient history, no matter how recent. Republicans in Congress gave Mr. Obama a tax increase on 77 percent of Americans just a few weeks ago. They must stick to their guns on cutting spending without tax increases, whether in a new deal or by allowing sequestration to hit. They must also resist those in their ranks who threaten to go soft over slashing defense dollars. It's time to face the music. We can't afford not to.