The “sequestration.” Was it Barack Obama’s fault? John Boehner’s? The Tea Party? All of the above?
If you’ve been paying attention to each twenty four hour political news cycle over the last month, you’ve heard plenty about the sequestration that went into effect on Friday March 1st, the “drastic” or “not so important” (depending on the amount of federal money poured into one’s state) budget cuts that will result, and the presumed impact said cuts will have on slowing down American economic recovery. But now that Congress and the Obama administration have reached this waypoint along the “manufactured crisis timeline” that started with 2011′s debt ceiling debacle, and will very likely continue to fester as a tax/spending/budget battle for the duration of 2013, where can we as independent voters point fingers of blame and demand change?
Looking back to 2011, commentators on both sides of the aisle can agree (when pushed) that both Democrats and Republicans were responsible for the implementation of the Sequester deadline. Bill Keller’s writing in the New York Times articulated this nicely:
“In fact, the conceptual paternity of sequester was bipartisan. Both sides agreed that Congress should set in motion an automatic deficit-cutting scheme so draconian that it would force a divided Washington to come together around some sane compromise. The scandal is that Washington is so incapable of adult behavior that it can do the right thing only if it is staring down the barrel of a shotgun — and, it turns out, not even then.”
Dumb. Arbitrary. Inexcusable. Those are words President Obama used Friday to describe the $1.2 trillion in federal cuts that Washington imposed on America.
What the president didn’t do was accept any responsibility for the so-called sequestration that took effect Friday. Nor did House Speaker John Boehner, the leading Republican in Congress, as the nation’s long-running and mind-numbing budget fight entered a new phase. What did the nation’s leaders do? They blamed each other.
In a White House news conference, Obama effectively argued that he is politically impotent in the face of Republican obstinacy. “I am not a dictator,” he said. “I am the president.”
He bristled when a reporter asked why he was so powerless. “Give me an example of what I’m supposed to do,” Obama chuckled. Later, he dismissed a reporter who suggested that he lock GOP and Democratic leaders in a room until they fix the problem.
It’s come to this: The president of the United States asking a reporter how to avoid a budget crisis — and taking the reporter’s silence, somehow, as confirmation that he is completely right and the GOP is totally wrong.
“Asked about his demand earlier this week that Senate Democrats “get off their ass” and offer their own replacement plan, Boehner said: “I speak English. And the fact is, the House has done its work. We have this sequester because the president demanded it and because Democrats in the Senate refused to act.” Washington journalism veteran Bob Woodward was “right,” Boehner added, to have published a report showing the idea for the sequester originated in the White House…
Though he said he’s “concerned” about sequestration’s impact on the economy and the U.S. military, which took the biggest hit, Boehner said he still questions whether the cuts will be as immediately devastating as the president has suggested… “I don’t know whether its going to hurt the economy or not. I don’t think anyone quite understands” how the sequester will play out, Boehner said. “There are a lot of questions about how the White House is handing the communications of this.”
While President Obama may be playing the “long game” as a second term President, drawing out a budget battle with Boehner and House Republicans and racheting up accusations of hyperpartisanship is certainly not a strategy for appealing to middle of the road and independent voters — voters who’s support he’ll surely need for upcoming agenda items being pursued by the Administration like immigration reform, gun control, and even climate change.