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Well, at least sequestration was supposed to bring about a post-apocalyptic world until President Obama realized Republicans weren’t going to capitulate to his will (again) and raise taxes (again) to replace the sequester he birthed in 2011.
There was a distinct change in tone from the White House this week on what sequestration would mean. In little more than a week we went from roving bands of teacherless children wandering darkened streets filled with uninspected rancid meat, illegal aliens and pre-convicted felons released because of lack of funds setting fires there aren’t enough firefighters to extinguish to not a “cliff” but a possible gradual “tumble downward.” That’s on the order of the difference between ordering a ham sandwich and getting a foot massage.
What caused this change? Two things. The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward’s spam filter seemingly malfunctioned, blocking White House talking points and forcing him to tell the truth about the sequester’s origin, and Republican leadership took pills to address their low testosterone.
Woodward’s piece left no ambiguity as to who introduced the concept and insisted upon adoption of sequestration as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling. Within days Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor decided they wanted to keep their titles and thus would bend no more to the will of a relentless demagogue.
Woodward immediately took a beating from his fellow journalists that makes being “jumped out” of a gang feel like afternoon tea. Conversely, Boehner and Cantor had only to do nothing, at which they excel, to force the president’s hand.
The scare tactics the White House tried to employ proved as successful as their attempts to employ Americans.
The wheels came off this strategy when it became clear these “cuts” were going to happen. They’d oversold and Armageddon would under-deliver.
The panicked selling of the Mad Max world reached such extreme levels that Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., predicted 170 million jobs, roughly 30 million more jobs than exist in the country, would be lost. Shaving what amounts to a rounding error off the rate of increase in yearly government spending was so bad not only would we lose every job we have, sequestration would create 30 million more jobs just to lose them too. Snake oil salesmen were blushing in their graves.
Waters made a gaffe, but the absurdity of it didn’t dwarf the absurdity of the President’s claims; it fit in like a Legos snap together – like it belonged there.
The American people are busy and tend not to pay attention to government actions, but they do see a steady stream of reports of government waste, expensive parties and all manner of waste that makes its way to lunch break conversation. The idea of a minor decrease in the amount of increase in government spending causing end-times is laughable to everyone who has more IQ points than teeth.
That common-sense intelligence was the Achilles heel for President Obama’s failed messaging.
On Friday the president launched a new scare tactic. He said, “So every time that we get a piece of economic news, over the next month, next two months, next six months, as long as the sequester is in place, we’ll know that that economic news could have been better if Congress had not failed to act.” This is his self-granted “get out of blame free” card. Anything bad that happens economically, no matter what it is or when, throughout the rest of his term is not his fault, it’s Republicans fault for not caving on sequester.
The media will be only too happy to enable this meme.
But now that we’ve survived Armageddon, there was something else the president said Friday that Republicans should find interesting. Reductions in government spending, he said, will cause ripples throughout the economy. “Layoffs and pay cuts mean that people have less money in their pockets, and that means that they have less money to spend at local businesses. That means lower profits. That means fewer hires,” he warned.
Reread that paragraph and replace “reductions in government spending” with “higher taxes” in your mind. That’s nearly a full-throated endorsement of supply-side economics and a better, clearer argument against Obama’s tax hikes – both past successes and future attempts – than any Republican has made in years.
As Americans slowly emerge from their doomsday bunkers and sift through their stockpiled canned goods, it’s good to remember this moment for a number of reasons and lessons there to learn. Democrats will always overplay their hand because it’s based on an emotional appeal to fear. It’s a tough card to trump, but it can be done by using their words against them and reminding people of their false prophecies of the past. Chicken Little lost her credibility for a reason.