Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal detailing the looming sequester cuts, and the process by which it came about:
During the summer of 2011, as Washington worked toward a plan to reduce the deficit to allow for an increase in the federal debt limit, President Obama and I very nearly came to a historic agreement. Unfortunately our deal fell apart at the last minute when the president demanded an extra $400 billion in new tax revenue—50% more than we had shaken hands on just days before.
It was a disappointing decision by the president, but with just days until a breach of the debt limit, a solution was still required—and fast. I immediately got together with Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to forge a bipartisan congressional plan. It would be called the Budget Control Act.
The plan called for immediate caps on discretionary spending (to save $917 billion) and the creation of a special House-Senate “super committee” to find an additional $1.2 trillion in savings. The deal also included a simple but powerful mechanism to ensure that the committee met its deficit-reduction target: If it didn’t, the debt limit would not be increased again in a few months.
But President Obama was determined not to face another debt-limit increase before his re-election campaign. Having just blown up one deal, the president scuttled this bipartisan, bicameral agreement. His solution? A sequester.
To be sure, the sequester is Obama’s baby, including the layoff warnings that have started to be sent as a result of the included defense cuts. Bob Woodward chronicles the hatching of the sequester idea in his book “The Price Of Politics”:
(Jack Lew being Obama’s Budget Director at the time)
Just so we’re clear, this whole sequestration idea was the president’s, and back in November of 2011, he even threatened to veto any attempts to get around the cuts:
Unfortunately, it appears as though the president has contracted John Kerry’s disease, which seems to affect many Democrats: he was for the sequestration cuts before he was against them. Fast forward to the present day and Obama is singing a different, albeit familiar tune: he’s blaming Republicans for the sequester, and vowing that the cuts will not happen:
Two things come to mind when I watch the second video (three things, really, but one can’t be repeated in polite company). First, Obama thought he could pander to his base by ensuring deep cuts in the military budget, while leaving mandatory spending on entitlements (the primary driver of the deficit and debt) untouched, only to find that it would come back and bite him now. Alternatively, at the time the sequester was proposed, Obama knew that it would be a disaster and was banking on people having a short memory so that he could demagogue the issue and blame Republicans as leverage down the line. Either option is bad; however, with many examples of Obama’s devious nature in the past 4 years, I’m leaning towards the latter explanation.
Either way, it brings to mind a couple of quotes:
The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Integrity. It’s sorely lacking in the current administration.
In the time since this post was published, Bob Woodward has written an article discussing Obama’s dishonesty regarding sequestration. While this is not news to anyone who’s been paying attention to the issue, it is always notable when a repsected, committed leftist like Woodward criticizes The One. Ed Morrissey has more on the Woodward piece over at Hot Air.