Yes, the dreaded “sequester” cuts begin taking effect today, but syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer is reminding Republicans that -- at least for the moment -- they actually have the upper hand politically. During an appearance on “Special Report” last night, he urged Republicans to do two things to expose the Left’s cynical, doomsday scare tactics and curry favor with the public: 1) emphasize that the GOP has indeed offered Senate Democrats and the president “utter discretion” to pick and choose which government programs to cut in lieu of “sequestration” -- which the former rejected and the latter threatened to veto, and 2) highlight how much waste/fraud/abuse there actually is in Washington -- “an example a day,” he suggests -- thereby forcing the president to explain why he didn’t work with Republicans to cut those programs, and instead allowed the sequester to happen when it was easily avoidable (via Ed Morrissey):
Dr. K’s column this week reinforces these points, of course, but also zeros in on the White House’s well-known singular objective:
When the GOP House passed an alternative that cut where the real money is — entitlement spending — President Obama threatened a veto. Meaning, he would have insisted that the sequester go into effect — the very same sequester he now tells us will bring on Armageddon.
Good grief. The entire sequester would have reduced last year’s deficit from $1.33 trillion to $1.24 trillion. A fraction of a fraction. Nonetheless, insists Obama, such a cut is intolerable. It has to be “balanced” — i.e., largely replaced — by yet more taxes.
Which demonstrates that, for Obama, this is not about deficit reduction, which interests him not at all. The purpose is purely political: to complete his Election Day victory by breaking the Republican opposition.
At the fiscal cliff, Obama broke — and split — the Republicans on taxes. With the sequester, he intends to break them on spending. Make the cuts as painful as possible, and watch the Republicans come crawling for a “balanced” (i.e., tax-hiking) deal.
In the past two years, House Republicans stopped cold Obama’s left-liberal agenda. Break them now, and the road is open to resume enactment of the expansive, entitlement-state liberalism that Obama proclaimed in his second inaugural address.
But he cannot win if “nothing bad really happens.” Indeed, he’d look both foolish and cynical for having cried wolf.
Obama’s incentive to deliberately make the most painful and socially disruptive cuts possible (say, oh, releasing illegal immigrants from prison) is enormous. And alarming.
Destroying the Republican Party may be Team Obama’s top priority, but the GOP is on solid footing now in part because the Left's failed to win -- in Krauthammer’s words -- “the propaganda war.” We’ll see how long this lasts.
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