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February 20, 2013

Obama: Congressional Republicans Are Endangering The Country By Supporting The Sequester.
John Boehner: The President Is Right.

Yesterday Obama did his traditional dog and pony show when he wants to show he's serious about something without actually doing something about it. The most recent human props were first responders that Obama claims will be laid off if the mean GOP doesn't cave in and raise taxes.

Today John Boehner responds with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that agrees with Obama.

A week from now, a dramatic new federal policy is set to go into effect that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more. In a bit of irony, President Obama stood Tuesday with first responders who could lose their jobs if the policy goes into effect. Most Americans are just hearing about this Washington creation for the first time: the sequester. What they might not realize from Mr. Obama's statements is that it is a product of the president's own failed leadership.

The sequester is a wave of deep spending cuts scheduled to hit on March 1. Unless Congress acts, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will occur this year, with another $1.1 trillion coming over the next decade. There is nothing wrong with cutting spending that much—we should be cutting even more—but the sequester is an ugly and dangerous way to do it.

By law, the sequester focuses on the narrow portion of the budget that funds the operating accounts for federal agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense. Exempt is most entitlement spending—the large portion of the budget that is driving the nation's looming debt crisis. Should the sequester take effect, America's military budget would be slashed nearly half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Border security, law enforcement, aviation safety and many other programs would all have diminished resources.

Boehner's larger point is apparently that Obama should agree to the plans the GOP aid out last year to achieve the same savings but in ways that aren't so ham handed and injurious.

The problem as Byron York notes is that's not really the overall impression one gets from Boehner's piece.

The effect of Boehner’s argument is to make Obama seem reasonable in comparison. After all, the president certainly agrees with Boehner that the sequester cuts threaten national security and jobs. The difference is that Obama wants to avoid them. At the same time, Boehner is contributing to Republican confusion on the question of whether the cuts are in fact “deep” or whether they are relatively minor.

Could the GOP message on the sequester be any more self-defeating? Boehner could argue that the sequester cuts are necessary as a first — and somewhat modest — step toward controlling the deficits that threaten the economy. Instead, he describes them as a threat to national security and jobs that he nevertheless supports. It’s not an argument that is likely to persuade millions of Americans.

Boehner is relying on some double jujitsu move that relies on people accepting the argument that yes the cuts are by the GOP's own admission are dangerous but they can't be turned off because....um....that's why.

Did Republicans learn nothing about the tyranny of low information voters last November? You can't have these 3D policy chess arguments and expect people to side with you, especially when Obama is offering a simple, if false, substitute.

All viewers of Honey Boo-Boo hear is....Everyone agrees sequester is bad, Obama has a plan to stop it, Republicans are saying no to that plan.

I'm sure the GOP will win the messaging war this time because voters have gotten smarter or something since November. And if you believe that, you're qualified to be the GOP Speaker of the House.

FTR: I don't think sequestration will happen. The GOP will cave. Maybe not before March 1 but within a week or so of it.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:07 AM

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