On the morning after he returned to Washington from a weekend of golf in Florida, President Obama was center stage with a dire warning about automatic spending cuts that will kick in by law on March 1.
It was a virtuoso performance even by Obama’s standards of inflated rhetoric punctuated by exaggeration and fear mongering. The president was in his element as he donned the familiar hat of Campaigner-in-Chief and removed the hat of Chief Executive of the federal government. It’s all about the midterm elections in 2014 and Obama’s dream of cementing his legacy with control of both houses of Congress.
There was the usual cheap theatrics and exploitation. The president rarely appears without a backdrop of human props to drive his points home. This time it was a lineup of uniformed police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders.
With a tone of self-righteous defiance that marked both his inaugural address and state of the union message, Obama let loose a litany of ghastly consequences if the mandatory cuts take place next week.
According to the president, there will be fewer police officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel to protect the public. Teachers will be laid off. Daycare will be curtailed. Primary and preventive health care will be cut back.
But that’s just the beginning. There will be less border security. Military readiness will be cut back. Airport security will be reduced. Criminals will be set free because federal prosecutors will be forced to drop cases.
This sky is falling scenario has a villain – – irresponsible and heartless Republicans who refuse to come to the table and negotiate a so-called balanced approach to reducing the deficit and advancing economic growth. The scenario also has a cure – – Obama’s relentless quest of more revenue from the millionaires, billionaires, and corporations that never pay what he calls their “fair share.”
This is political warfare dressed up as a serious policy discussion. Most of all it is a gross distortion. The widely quoted $85 billion in spending cuts under sequestration is inaccurate. As reported on Reason.com, the sequester will cut $44 billion from this year’s budget, not $85 billion.
Just this month, the Congressional Budget Office stated, “Discretionary outlays will drop by about $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures (sequestration); additional reductions in outlays attributable to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years.”
In other words, according to economist John B Taylor, federal spending under sequestration will look a lot like federal spending without sequestration. Yet we are told that cutting $44 billion in federal spending will bring the nation to its knees. All the while the Obama administration spends at least $1 trillion more than it collects in taxes in a $3.8 trillion federal budget for fiscal year 2013.
Make no mistake. The 2014 midterm campaign is underway at full throttle. The House of Representatives now has 232 Republicans, 200 Democrats, and three vacancies. Obama, Pelosi, and their entire left-wing base believe they can overcome this deficit and once again rule the House. It’s a steep climb, but the faithful are convinced they can win by demonizing Republicans and pave the way for the last two years of Obama’s term when nobody can stop them.
The Democrats remain confident about holding their majority in the Senate where they now command 55 votes to the Republicans 45. They may be in for a surprise. The Republicans will defend 11 incumbents in 2014 while the Democrats must preserve 17. There are now five open seats due to retirements – – three Democrats and two Republicans.
The Republican incumbents in the Senate represent states that Obama lost save one – – Maine – – and that seat seem safe as well. At the same time, many of the Democratic incumbents hail from red states and could fall to quality challengers that are well financed.
In the president’s lecture about the consequences of sequestration, he sounded more like a Chicago alderman than a president. It was over the top scare tactics. The threat of lost jobs echoed a local pol concerned about the fruits of patronage.
The president will never cut spending; he will always seek higher taxes. He and his cohorts should remember 2010. At some point, citizens at the grassroots have had enough and then they speak at the ballot box. We may be reaching such a tipping point that could up end the second Obama administration.