WASHINGTON - If anyone still thinks President Obama is serious about putting our fiscal house in order, Exhibits A and B prove he's been playing political games with this issue from the beginning.
Exhibit A: The White House high command saw the full sequester budget battle -- not as an effort to curb out-of-control deficit spending that's driving the government into unfathomable debt -- but as a relentless, politically-driven opportunity to bludgeon the Republicans in the upcoming 2014 midterm elections.
Obama's campaign-style events in recent weeks were a carefully- crafted effort in demagoguery to blame the GOP for the sequester law. But Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Bob Woodward tracked the sequester debacle to the Oval Office, saying Obama was constantly "moving the goal posts" in his negotiations with the GOP by demanding higher taxes.
Every statement, speech, trip and decision thus far this year was strategically engineered for its political impact on the GOP as part of a long term plan to regain control of the House to pass Obama's remaining agenda and burnish his legacy in his last two years in office.
Exhibit B: There were also exaggerated and downright false claims by the administration about the sequester cuts -- long before they were made -- that smacked of political dirty tricks. More about this in a moment.
Soon after his election victory speech last November, Obama made two phone calls -- one to New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the other to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who still harbors hopes of winning back her post as Speaker.
Obama concluded long ago that he would not be able to get anything done in his second term if the GOP held on to the House. In order to save his presidency, he would have to focus much if not most of his energy this year and next on a virtual nonstop political assault against Speaker John Boehner and his party in the 2013-14 election cycle.
"The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House," Israel told The Washington Post last week."To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now."
Immediately after delivering his high-sounding inaugural address, Obama plunged into the messy, parochial battle plans that will consume much of his political capital over the next two years.