Call Obama’s sequester bluff

Discussion in 'Politics' started by AK Forty Seven, Feb 9, 2013.


    Call Obama’s sequester bluff

    By Charles Krauthammer,

    For the first time since Election Day, President Obama is on the defensive. That’s because on March 1, automatic spending cuts (“sequestration”) go into effect — $1.2 trillion over 10 years, half from domestic (discretionary) programs, half from defense.

    The idea had been proposed and promoted by the White House during the July 2011 debt-ceiling negotiations. The political calculation was that such draconian defense cuts would drive the GOP to offer concessions.

    It backfired. The Republicans have offered no concessions. Obama’s bluff is being called and he’s the desperate party. He abhors the domestic cuts. And as commander in chief he must worry about indiscriminate Pentagon cuts that his own defense secretary calls catastrophic.

    So Tuesday, Obama urgently called on Congress to head off the sequester with a short-term fix. But instead of offering an alternative $1.2 trillion in cuts, Obama demanded a “balanced approach,” coupling any cuts with new tax increases.

    What should the Republicans do? Nothing.

    Republicans should explain — message No. 1 — that in the fiscal-cliff deal the president already got major tax hikes with no corresponding spending cuts. Now it is time for a nation $16 trillion in debt to cut spending. That’s balance.

    The Republicans finally have leverage. They should use it. Obama capitalized on the automaticity of the expiring Bush tax cuts to get what he wanted at the fiscal cliff — higher tax rates. Republicans now have automaticity on their side.

    If they do nothing, the $1.2 trillion in cuts go into effect. This is the one time Republicans can get cuts under an administration that has no intent of cutting anything. Get them while you can.

    Of course, the sequester is terrible policy. The domestic cuts will be crude and the Pentagon cuts damaging. This is why the Republican House has twice passed bills offering more rationally allocated cuts. (They curb, for example, entitlement spending as well.)

    Naturally, the Democratic Senate, which hasn’t passed a budget since before the iPad, has done nothing. Nor has the president — until his Tuesday plea.

    The GOP should reject it out of hand and plainly explain (message No. 2): We are quite prepared to cut elsewhere. But we already raised taxes last month. If the president wants to avoid the sequester — as we do — he must offer a substitute set of cuts.

    Otherwise, Mr. President, there is nothing to discuss. Your sequester — Republicans need to reiterate that the sequester was the president’s idea in the first place — will go ahead.

    Obama is trying to sell his “balanced” approach with a linguistic sleight of hand. He insists on calling his proposed tax hikes — through eliminating deductions and exemptions — “tax reform.”

    It’s not. Tax reform, as defined even by the White House’s own Web page on the subject, begins with lowering tax rates. It then makes up the lost revenue by closing loopholes.

    Real tax reform is revenue neutral. It’s a way to clean the tax code by eliminating unfair, inefficient and market-distorting loopholes on the one hand while lowering rates to stimulate economic growth on the other.

    Obama has zero interest in lowering tax rates. He just got through raising them at the fiscal cliff and has made perfectly clear ever since that he fully intends to keep raising taxes. His only interest in eliminating loopholes is to raise more cash for the Treasury — not to use them to lower rates.

    That’s not tax reform. That’s a naked, old-fashioned tax increase.

    Hence Republican message No. 3: The sequester is one thing, real tax reform quite another. The sequester is for cutting. The only question is whether it will be done automatically and indiscriminately — or whether the president will offer an alternative set of cuts.

    Then we can take up real tax reform. Reprise the landmark Reagan-Tip O’Neill-Bill Bradley tax reform of 1986, a revenue-neutral spur to economic growth and efficiency, and a blow for fairness for those not powerful enough to manipulate the tax code.

    The country needs tax reform. But first it needs to rein in out-of-control spending. To succeed in doing that, Republicans must remain united under one demand: cuts with no taxes — or we will let the sequester go into effect.

    The morning after, they should sit down with Obama for negotiations on real tax reform as recommended by the president’s own Simpson-Bowles commission: broaden the base, lower the rates.

    Any time, any place. Geneva, perhaps? The skiing is good. Skeet shooting, too.
  2. I agree with Charles,call Obamas bluff.Its time to see if the republicans really stand for spending cuts.In 3 weeks they get $1.2 trillion in cuts and other then Obama and the media blaming them for the economic consequences the next 4 years and saying that all economic problems the next 4 years is their fault do the sequestration there is nothing Obama can do to stop them.

    If Republicans make a deal that has less then 1.2 trillion in cuts their con is over imo.Republicans can no longer blame Obama for all the spending when they could have had 1.2 trillion in cuts and stopped it
  3. Both parties are completely dysfunctional. If you ever stepped back and took a good look, I sincerely doubt that you would dedicate your life to defending this two party system.
  4. pspr


    The Senate is now working on a package of eliminating some "tax loopholes" (usually what liberals call loopholes are normal business deductions) and some spending cuts (and usually a spending cut to them is just a growth rate cut, not a real cut in spending). Depending upon what they come up with to replace the sequester it may or may not work.

    Either way, I'm with Charles. Settle the matter. Let the sequester happen if the Dems don't come up with an honestly reasonable alternative. To keep pushing the date out solves nothing.
  5. The past four years have been about "pushing the date out". Some would argue 2003-07 was also about "pushing the date out"

    I'd argue that "pushing the date out" is job number one for this current crop of corrupt politico's. They have alot to lose if the status quo isn't preserved.
  6. 377OHMS


    It isn't just defense. There are deep cuts in social programs. I've read that Obama doesn't want those domestic cuts to occur. I've also noticed that his comments in the past were that he wanted the sequestration cuts to occur but his recent comments seem to indicate that he does not want the cuts to occur because they impair some of his goals.

    Personally I would like to see all of the cuts occur. I'm a little concerned about the defense cuts but I think that if they cut big failed programs like the F-35 and continue to fund the ground troops that our defense will still be good enough to maintain our security. There are some huge weapons programs like the F-35 that aren't going to benefit the country very much and they cost entirely too much. Instead of the F-35 they should retrofit the older F-15 Eagles with newer avionics, sensors and weapons systems.

    Maybe we could close a few of the superfluous bases that we operate. I don't think we need to continue to defend South Korea. I don't think there is any need to continue to operate enormous military bases in Germany or the UK.

    We could also stop giving massive foreign aid to Egypt and similar hostile governments. Instead of giving F-16s to Egypt and F-15 Strike Eagles to Israel we could cut them both off and the current balance of power would be unaltered. I think Israel can fund its own defense and we could state clearly that we would defend Israel directly if they were attacked.
  7. The senate democrats are supposedly working on a plan to delay the sequester for 10 months, in order to give congress time to come up with a "balanced plan". During the 10 month delay they would raise revenues and do some targeted cuts. This plan for a delay is completely absurd.

    What the hell will be different 10 months from now? The same arguments will be made then as now and everyone knows that they will not make any "grand bargain" in the meantime. The democrats are just trying to use some very obvious delay tactics in order to have time to push more tax increases as they do not want any significant spending cuts. They want to use the establishment republicans distaste of defense cuts to get them to put off the much needed sequester. The sequester is the medicine that the nation needs right now, no matter how bitter it might taste.

    In fact both the democrats and republicans get things they want out of letting the sequester happen, but I guess that many in congress just cannot stop themselves from spending the nation into bankruptcy.
  8. Lucrum


    Ten months? Nothing takes ten months.
  9. pspr


    But they NEVER even think about these 'fiscal cliffs' until about a week before the crisis. What's going to change this time?

    If they just let the sequester happen, they can then maybe find some urgency in agreeing on what needs to be re-funded, if anything.
  10. What is so disturbing about the sequestration is the fact that it is so small. $85 billion in cuts off of at $3.5 trillion budget (for this year). I mean it is crazy that some in congress along with the president are going apeshit over that tiny amount.

    It simply will not be possible for them to avoid bankrupting the nation, they just cannot help themselves.
    #10     Feb 10, 2013