Saturday, February 23, 2013

Obama's Manufactured Sequester Armageddon

Obama has periodically decried Kabuki theater style "manufactured" crises and urged the political community to make long-term decisions instead of temporary short-term fixes that simply kick-the-can to a later date. Yet that is exactly the shameful histrionic strategy that Obama is pursuing.  U-tube video of Obama's February 19, 2013 speech.

The Obama administration proposed the sequester, worked it through the Congressional approval process and signed into law back in August 2011 as part of the Budget Control Act.  The fact that the Obama administration initiated the sequester proposal and pushed it through was the subject of  Bob Woodward's article: "White House initiated automatic spending cuts". Now Obama wants to renege on his sequester.

Since Obama's February 19, 2013 speech the media and Obama have been spewing fear and hysteria towards the electorate asserting financial Armageddon if implementation of the sequester is not aborted. The Washington Post quotes Obama: "“It won’t help the economy. It won’t create jobs. It will visit hardship on a whole lot of people,” the president said. The cuts, he added, will “add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls""

These last minute desperate actions by the Obama administration negate Obama's faux assertions that he does not want manufactured crises. He uses them as an excuse to inflame public outrage. In George Will's opinion piece:  "The manufactured crisis of sequester", Mr. Will quotes Obama's intentional use of highly inflammatory, manipulative, abstract derogatory words: "“meat-cleaver approach” of “severe,” “arbitrary” and “brutal” cuts will “eviscerate” education, energy and medical research spending".  Link to Obama's speech: Obama's February 19, 2013 speech.

The proposed sequester simply cannot have the draconian doomsday hyped by Obama. All that the sequester will do is spend slightly less then proposed future spending. To phrase this differently, suppose you spent $50,000 in 2012. In 2013, you propose to spend $52,000. According to Mr. Will the sequester is a 2.3% reduction to future spending. Based on a hypothetical $52,000 projected budget that comes to an approximate $1,200 spending reduction to future spending. So for 2013, you get to spend $50,800, an $800 increase over 2012. So how would that "eviscerate" programs!!!

Besides spreading doomsday fears, Obama neglects that that his administration has had over a year to plan for the ill conceived "meat clever".  So where is Obama's much vaunted scalpel to make the so-called appropriate sane reductions?  Moreover, before signing the bill one would have expected Obama to have checked the financial implications. Apparently he did not. Obama even vowed to veto any proposal that would undo the sequester.  Now one week before the deadline, Obama alleges that it will be an economic catastrophe. Since Obama is now all of a sudden magically predicting Armageddon, it would imply that Obama failed to do his homework before signing the bill. Obama consequently owns this sequester. It should be Obama's responsibility to fix, not to blame Congress.

Yet Obama, at the last minute, demands - with human props standing behind him - that Congress fix his leadership failure. The Post quoting Obama wrote: "“So now Republicans in Congress face a simple choice,” Obama said. “Are they willing to compromise to protect vital investment in education, health care, national security and all the jobs that depend on them? Or would they rather put hundreds of thousands of jobs and our entire economy at risk just to protect a few special interest tax loopholes that benefit only the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations? That’s the choice.”" Obama had over a year to either propose a fix or prepare for implementing the sequester. Obama also has failed to put a budget proposal into writing and submit it to Congress.

Obama has repeatedly called for a "fair and balanced approach to deficit reduction", yet Obama fails to put a real proposal on the table.  Instead, this Nation goes from one Obama "manufactured" Kabuki theater crises to another with only short-term temporary kick-the-can-down-the-road non-solutions. Theatrical crisis-driven grandstanding is no way to run a country.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Obama's Budget Avoidance

The sequester deadline draws near and the rhetoric is increasingly hysterical. According to some, doomsday will occur. The Washington Post recently published: "Obama presses Congress for Stopgap Sequester Fix" which struck me a particularly odd. The reason, the sequestration was the brainchild of the Obama administration itself. Mr. Kessler of the Washington Post exposed this through his article: "Obama’s fanciful claim that Congress ‘proposed’ the sequester".

Now, Obama wants to weasel out of the very agreement that he promoted. KSY_in_NOVA provided the following U-Tube Links. The first to Obama glorifying the sequester with Obama making a grand assertion of total complete commitment to the sequester.  U-tube video: "President Obama: I will veto any effort to get rid of the sequester cuts". Spin forward to today and Obama is now disavowing his prior commitment. Obama is now on the bully-pulpit frantically fanning the flames of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).  U-Tube video: "Obama: People will lose jobs over forced cuts". Particularly duplicitous is the blame-game claim by Obama that the sequester (which Obama promoted and signed) is a Congressional "meat clever" that will devastate the economy.  What does Obama's manufactured hyperbolic crises and fear mongering have to do with Obama's required draft budget proposal to the House?

Obama was required to submit a draft budget proposal to the US House of Representatives by early February 2013 for FY 2014. He has failed to do so. Obama is now pressing for Congress to propose a stopgap "fix" to the sequester.  The word "fix" really being a euphemism that would allow Obama to repudiate a deal he proposed and agreed to. Obama by going back on his promise is not committed to upholding his word.

Since the sequester and the proposed budget have approximate deadlines, a simple logical approach for Obama would have been to suggest through the draft budget an alternative the sequester. After all it is Obama who is seeking to renege on his deal so he should take the initiative to offer an alternative. Instead of offering an alternative budget proposal Obama arrogantly demands that Congress provide him with a budget proposal.

What does this mean, in terms of the overall budgetary process? Obama has repeatedly asserted how he has a "fair and balanced approach to deficit spending", yet he has failed to put that into writing.  The most current example, Obama has not yet released his 2014 draft budget proposal and is now proposing to renege on the sequester that Obama originally asserted would constitute part of his deficit reduction efforts. Instead of taking the imitative to prepare an alternative to the sequester, Obama arrogantly demands that Congress to give him a draft budget proposal. 

I assume that Obama is playing this loathsome budgetary game, so that he can vilify any proposed budget that the House offers.  Yet Obama refuses to meet budgetary deadlines or disclose his budgetary plans. Quite contemptuous for Obama to demand to see the others "cards" while refusing to show your "cards".  Furthermore, this clearly illustrate the fact that Obama simply does not want the public to actually evaluate his budgetary plans. By extension and Obama's current efforts to renege, any Obama's budget proposal is likely to be nothing more than meaningless smoke and mirrors.