If you’re reading this, it means you survived the sequester. Of course, as President Obama reminded us last Friday, “this is not going to be an apocalypse as some people have said.”
Just ten days earlier, the President said, “And that’s why it’s so troubling that just 10 days from now, Congress might allow a series of automatic, severe budget cuts to take place that will do the exact opposite. It won't help the economy, won't create jobs, will visit hardship on a whole lot of people.”
He went on to warn that “if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place,” it would “eviscerate job-creating investments” and cut “vital service[s] that Americans depend on every single day.”
The President’s backtrack – also known as a flip-flop – began after major media outlets began asking whether he was overplaying his hand. If Americans woke up Friday morning and failed to see any impact of the dreaded sequester, they may no longer dread the miniscule reductions, which amount to just 2.4% of the total federal budget.
Take Obama’s warning that “Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.” It was a line repeated ad nauseum by outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. But despite the daily fear mongering, Heritage Action’s Katherine Rosario reveals, “The [Federal Aviation Administration] FAA is getting more than they need – more than they asked for – even after sequester cuts.”
It gets worse.
Of the 112 airports around the country that are subsidized by the Essential Air Service program, only 19 made it on Ray LaHood’s list of towers that “could be closed.” Instead of closing, or threatening to close, low-traffic airports, the Obama administration released a list of 233 airports designed to inflict maximum panic.
To be sure, implementing the sequester is cumbersome and the indiscriminate cuts to the military will only serve to lock in years of neglect under Obama. However, it took the sequester to make agencies realize they shouldn’t be holding glitzy conferences. Similarly, lawmakers realized there are more budget friendly ways to travel than commandeering a military.
Of course, Obama was taking a calculated risk touting the detrimental impacts of the sequester. When and if the economy turns negative, he wants the blame to fall squarely on the sequester, not his other policies. Heritage Foundation president-elect Jim DeMint explained:
“But our struggling economy is the President’s own creation. His tax hikes—in income taxes, payroll taxes, and Obamacare taxes—will take $150 billion out of the economy this year alone. The $150 billion doesn’t magically appear in Washington’s bank account without real consequences. It comes out of your paycheck. It means less money for your boss to give you a raise. Small businesses won’t have the money to hire new employees. You’ll have less money to save for your retirement or your child’s college fund.”
As DeMint mentioned, the expiration of the 2-percentage point payroll tax cut took a chunk of money out of the pockets of hardworking American families.
In a display of willful omission, Obama told shipyard workers that Washington couldn’t keep asking “working families like yours to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction.” Every single one of those workers saw the government take a bigger chunk of their paychecks this year when the 2-percentage point reduction in the payroll tax expired.
Obama never fought to extend the tax cut in the fiscal cliff deal. Just one year earlier though, he called the extension of the payroll tax holiday “the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives.”
Americans need real leadership, not a presidential flip-flopper.