Fresh off his weekend golf trip with Tiger Woods, President Obama attacked Republicans this morning for refusing to raise taxes as part of a deal to avert the looming "sequester" cuts -- which his administration championed and he signed into law. Here's a particularly alarmist snippet from Obama's prepared remarks (he took no questions from reporters), via the Examiner:
"[First responders'] ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go...These cuts are not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy, they will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls."
And who, pray tell, is primarily responsible for these "not smart , not fair," job-destroying, chaos-creating cuts? Over to you, liberal reporter Bob Woodward:
"It was the White House. It was Obama and Jack Lew and Rob Nabors who went to the Democratic Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, and said, '[the sequester] is the solution.'"
Woodward went on to say that "everyone has their fingerprints" on the package of cuts -- which is true to a large extent. The idea was the Obama administration's brain child, they proposed it, members of both parties in both houses voted for the 2011 debt deal (in which the sequester was embedded), and the president affixed his signature to it. He also threatened to veto Republicans' attempts to make the cuts more responsible and targeted. But now, as Obama tells it, America faces a sequester-induced apocalypse, and it's all the GOP's fault. Criminals will run free. Airport delays will get worse. Fires will burn unfought. Puppies will go uncuddled. All because Republicans are willing to allow the president's own proposal to go into effect. Has Obama offered a detailed plan to offset sequestration? He has not, but he's hitching his wagon to Senate Democrats' plan -- half of which is paid for through new tax increases, while the other half remains heavy on defense cuts. Obama refers to these tax increases as "tax reform," because they would reduce and close loopholes and tax subsidies for certain families and corporations. This would include gimmicks like the Buffett Rule and corporate jet depreciation tweaks. But the genuine tax reform that Republicans have agreed to in principle refers to cutting out clutter in our tax code by closing loopholes and deductions in exchange for lowering tax rates. This approach tracks closely with the recommendations of Obama's own fiscal commission, which he promptly ignored. Indeed, Obama just raised tax rates on families and small businesses, and now he's demanding that Uncle Sam come back for another big bite. He insists that Republicans replace hundreds of billions in previously-agreed-to spending reductions that he signed into law with additional tax increases -- which will likely end up funding more spending. This is a total nonstarter.
The American public recognizes the federal government's spending problem, which is driven by precisely the sort of political demagoguery that we saw this morning. These cuts amount to 2.4 percent of the overall budget, which has been wildly out of balance for five years. It's true that these cuts aren't structured ideally, which is why Republicans have offered several rounds of offsetting cuts, all of which have been dismissed by Democrats. If Obama is truly horrified by the implications of these spending reductions, he should stop looking for people to blame and take a look in the mirror. If he honestly believes the sequester will set violent criminals loose to terrorize the public, perhaps he should have thought about that consequence when he signed it into law. If he really thinks these cuts will decimate the middle class, maybe he shouldn't have reflexively rebuffed GOP attempts to revise them. And if he's convinced that his own plan will spike unemployment, why did he brag about it on the campaign trail as as evidence of his "deficit reduction" commitment? Congressional Republicans must combat Obama's dishonest bullying and shut down his latest tax-hiking class warfare ploy. Be very afraid, America:
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