Monday, March 4, 2013

Is Obama To Blame For The Sequester?

Yes, but not for the reasons most people are saying so.

John Boehner says so, except when he wants to take credit with the GOP base for cutting spending without raising taxes.  Bob Woodward also says yes, even getting into a shouting match with Gene Sperling over it and then running to the media to crybaby about it when Sperling sent him an apologetic email that included the statement that Woodward would "regret" making his claims.  In today's New York Times, Bill Keller says so also, even though he admits the sequester came out of a complicated bipartisan process in August, 2011.  But Keller puts the bottom line blame on Obama for not accepting the non-existent Bowles-Simpson Commission recommendations.  The commission never made any recommedations because some of the Republicans on it, led by Paul Ryan, did not want to have any tax increases as part of it, although Bowles and Simpson later issued their own proposal, since described inaccurately but repeatedly by mainstream media as being the commission's recommendations.  In any case, Obama did not accept any, not that there was any evidence that GOPsters in Congress were any more likely to accept those with their proposed tax increases, so shame on him according to Keller.

Actually, I must agree that it is ultimately Obama who is responsible for the fact that this idiotic sequester is happening, although I can sympathize that when he let Jack Lew propose it to Boehner and then signed it, he really thought it would lead to a Grand Bargain, some variation on all that Bowles-Simpson stuff that Keller is huffy that he supposedly did not accept.  That is not the issue. 

The issue is why he ever proposed the damned thing in the first place, and that was to avoid a financial crisis from the House Republicans' refusal to raise the debt ceiling in August, 2011.  There were a lot of us at the time, myself included, who argued that he needed to squelch this debt ceiling thing once and for all by declaring it unconstitutional.  For some reason he let himself get convinced that it is constitutional, or maybe he was just afraid that the court fight that would ensue over this would endanger his reelection effort.  In any case, he missed an historic opportunity to end the truly assinine charade of these repeated fights over the debt ceiling.  If he had done the right and brave thing, to declare the debt ceiling unconstitutional and simply blow past it, he would not have had to propose this silly sequester to Congress.  He is indeed at fault, and it was political cowardice that led to this current unpleasantness. 

We should have been freed from this nonsense, but in fact it will be back again this summer, zombying its way across our political landscape yet again.  Maybe this time he will have the guts to drive the stake through its heart, or chop off its head, as I think stakes are for vampires, who are as fashionable these days and even more undead than those bloody zombies.

Oh, here are a couple of my old posts on this matter.  There is more from where those come from...

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