Today, White House tours remain closed thanks to a petulant President who insists that somebody, anybody, feel some pain over the sequester cuts that trimmed a modest 2 cents on the dollar from the $3.6 trillion federal budget. It’s an age-old lesson in what happens when one stands up to politician spoiled by a deferential media and effusive supporters and colleagues. His bluster and threats can only go so far before they run into reality.
As we begin the second week of sequestration with our nation, somehow, still functioning, it is important to pause for a moment to consider the Obama Administration's wild claims in the days leading up to these reasonable efforts to rein in government overspending.
One of the more outlandish claims came from the President himself when he said, “Starting tomorrow, everybody here, cleaning the floors at the Capitol. They’re going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards. They just got a pay cut. They’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.” The bizarre comment prompted an email from the Architect of the Capitol to employees assuring them that, no “We do not anticipate furloughs for AOC employees (janitors and security guards) as a result of the sequester.”
Even the Washington Post saw through Obama’s antics and hyperventilation, writing that “Nothing in Obama’s statement came close to being correct.”
Another particularly egregious assertion built on liberal fantasy came from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who said, “40,000 teachers could lose their jobs… there are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.” The truth of the matter was that no teachers at all had been pink slipped because of the sequester. This claim was so ostentatiously false that Mr. Duncan, after erroneously using this talking point on national television numerous times, issued an apology and retraction.
Then there was the President using firefighters and police officers as a prop for one of his photo ops as he claimed that fires and crime would soar due to the cuts in federal spending. Of course, the salaries and benefits of those first responders are actually paid by local taxpayers at the county and city level, instead of by federal dollars.
Finally, out of sheer spite, the Administration cancelled White House tours, barring tens of thousands of Americans from visiting the White House that belongs to them. Instead of doing right by the American people, the administration looked for the most visible damage they could cause, in hopes that we would regret having taken even one step towards responsible spending restraint.
In the face of such blatant political grandstanding, Speaker Boehner and the GOP House members deserve credit for the standing firm in the face of the President's campaign of threats and intimidation and insisting that the sequester cuts go into effect. If we are going to get job creation and economic prosperity moving again our nation must rein in government overspending that is crowding out private sector innovation and momentum.
The sequester battle is not over by any means. If and when job growth dips due to the President's big government economic policies he will undoubtedly blame the spending cuts for his own failures. We will have to remind our fellow Americans that the President has spent at levels unprecedented in American history for going on five years now without turning our economy around, and that cutting 2 cents on the dollar is hardly the reason for job losses.
This entire episode is important for another reason as well though. The Left is fond of using sweeping rhetoric, dire predictions, frightening threats and withering sarcasm in pursuit of their ideological goals. They do so with a combination of wonkish experts, Hollywood stars and pompous politicians. Their goal is to squelch dissent, end debate and demean opponents. Nowhere is this pattern more obvious than on the global warming front where environmental extremists perfected the art.
Yet, both the sequester battle and the successful defeat of cap-and-trade demonstrate that even in the face of a full-throated assault, conservatives can win when we stand on principle, organize relentlessly at the grassroots, aggressively and persuasively take our message to the American people, and finally 'win the victory' by after the fact holding our opponents accountable for their falsehoods and reminding our fellow citizens of the benefits of responsible policy choices.