Economics, Taxes and Spending

The president who cried ‘Sequester!’

Image Credit: Jamelle Bouie (Flickr) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image Credit: Jamelle Bouie (Flickr) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The sequester is only four days old and it has already done untold damage — not to teachers, air traffic controllers, or the military, mind you, but to President Obama’s credibility.

Obama has been caught in one misstatement after another about the sequester — from lying to Americans about its origins to exaggerating its impact. Obama is fast becoming the president who cried “Sequester!” And the price he pays for his exaggerations will be lasting.

The first untruth came on October 22, 2012, during Obama’s final debate with Mitt Romney, when Obama declared, “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.” When everyone from Bob Woodward to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Max Baucus came out and said it was indeed the president’s idea, White House spokesman Jay Carney was finally forced to admit that “the sequester was one of the ideas put forward, yes, by the president’s team.”

Then President Obama began issuing apocalyptic warnings of the plagues and pestilence that would soon descend upon the land if the sequester took effect: “Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find child care for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.”

His claims were so obviously overwrought that, when the sequester finally happened, Obama backtracked, declaring, “This is not going to be [an] apocalypse, as some people have said.” Some people have said? Not some people, Mr. President. You and your senior officials.

It was your secretary of education, Arne Duncan, who said last week that there are “literally now teachers who are getting pink slips” because of the sequester. But it turned out there are no pink slips going out. The charge was just flat untrue. Asked where Duncan got the information, his spokesman said it was from “an unspecified call he was on with unnamed persons.” Seriously?

It was your department of homeland security that announced that hundreds of illegal aliens facing deportation had been released from immigration jails due to the sequester. There is no way the sequester required letting those folks go. It costs about $122 per day to keep an illegal immigrant facing deportation jailed.

It was your secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, who warned in a Feb. 1 letter that 70,000 students would see their Head Start program shut down — only to have her spokesman walk back the claim, telling POLITICO last week the number “should not be taken literally and serves as an estimate based on ‘historic funding levels.’”

It was you, Mr. President, who declared at a press conference just one day before the sequester took effect that, “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… That’s real.” Except it’s not. The Capitol superintendent sent out an email to his alarmed staff reassuring them Obama’s statement was “NOT true.” The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms declared, “None of my employees will have their pay cut nor will they face furloughs” and that the Capitol police “will face neither pay cuts nor furloughs; they are standing tall through sequestration and all.”

The administration’s claims that the sequester was somebody else’s idea — and its warnings of impending disaster — are either highly exaggerated or made up from whole cloth. Yes, the sequester needs to be fixed — not because the cuts are too deep, but because they slash both critical programs (like national defense) and wasteful ones without discrimination. As I have pointed out here and here, those problems are fixable.

What may not be fixable is the damage Obama has done to his reputation with his exaggerated claims of imminent doom. When you cry wolf, and people figure it out, they don’t take your cries seriously any more. The next time Obama warns us of a coming disaster, Americans will be forgiven for thinking: “Remember what he said about the sequester?”

14 thoughts on “The president who cried ‘Sequester!’

  1. Here we go blaming the other guy for this unpopular bill,instead of fixing the true driver of US debt which is healthcare inflation.

    • What? What my insurance company and I spend on my health care has nothing to do with the national debt.
      But I guess with Obamacare that is changing.
      The driver of the national debt is run-away spending.

  2. Crying Wolf and using Scare Tactics, has brought Shame on this Administration. Let’s hope the uninformed voters were paying attention, to some degree.

    • The unfortunate truth is that 90% of the country never pay attention, 9% have the attention span of a gnat, and the remaining 1% who might wonder about the president’s culpability in this have it repeatedly drummed into them by the MSM that Glorious Leader is incapable of error.

  3. The only institution more culpable than the presidency is the media. This should be a field day for any self-respecting, Woodward & Berstein-type journalist. But, alas, the only tough questions those ink-stained wretches seem to be asking these days are of Bob Woodward — who had the audacity to actually point out the lies President Obama had been peddling.

  4. Marc, I know this is one of the inane memes on the right wing to blame Obama for proposing the sequester, but isn’t it sorta important to point out that the sequester was supposed to be the price Obama was supposed to pay for the Republicans taking the full faith and credit of the U.S. hostage during the debt ceiling battle in 2011?

    Imagine if a burglar came into your home and held a gun to your family’s heads, saying that he was gonna rob you, but allowed you to decide what he’s going to rob. You then offer your HDTV, and the burglar grudgingly accepts it, then gets caught some time later, and in his defense testimony to the police, tries to blame YOU for him robbing the T.V. because you were the one who offered it!

    Obviously, that’s absurd, but here we are.

    As far as the actual damaging effects of the sequester, I thought it was pretty clear that the pain wasn’t all happening at once, that’s it going to take place over the course of several months.

    And don’t act like Obama was the only one talking about how the sequester was supposed to be devastating. Many Republican leaders including John Boehner said pretty much the same thing.

    You’re such a hack.

    • Obama planned to use the sequester as a vehicle for another tax increase, but that was not the intent. The intent was to force budget cuts. Obama tried to change the deal again (just like Darth Vader).

      Boehner and the House were more than willing to give Obama as much flexibility as he needed to make the cuts. But, Obama said he would veto any such bill. This is all on Obama and he has lost.

      There is a hole in the Obama dike.

    • You might be taken seriously if you could avoid the lib mistake of adding an insult or personal attack to any comment you make. Doing so exposes you as the clown you are.
      About the sequester, you should take up your claim with Clown Carney, who probably knows a lot more about it than you do:
      Jay Carney: What I will concede is that we were looking and the Republicans were looking for a trigger around which to build the mechanism to get us out of default possibility and the sequester was one of the ideas yes put forward, yes, by the president’s team.

      And you bud Durbin:’David, sequestration was designed as a budget threat, not as a budget strategy.’

      Thus, you see that your leader is a lying pile of pond scum. You are just a liar.

      • Uh…I never said the administration never offered the idea. But you seemed to completely ignore the context of WHY he offered that to begin with.

        Why am I not surprised by the selective quoting by you people…

        • He offered it so he could by the problem of the debt limit with actually making cuts. Obama never had any idea of actually implementing the sequester he offered. He always wanted more taxes to close the gap between the revenue collect and the 24% of GDP he wants to spend.

    • Xeno, You are the hack! You do nothing but repeat and believe this lying, con, demagogue, community organizer! You are obviously one of those Lo Fo voters that are so biased as to believe anything “your” messiah says!

      Get a life HACK

  5. Anyone just figuring out that this guy lies by default, must have been sleeping when he pretended to be a messiah that would calm the seas, or worse, a Christian, while demanding that fully born babies be slaughtered, dared to attack God’s Church and everyone’s freedom of conscience, set up death panels, and ran a compaign based up envy–a convention that booed God, celebrated lust, deviancy, sloth, racial agitation for vote, free lunches, coveting….
    Forget Obama. We are in the midst of grave evil in this nation, but the flocks are so self-trained to eat tainted grass that they truly believe the wolves are harmless and just circling and closing in to protect them better.

  6. What I’d like to know is where have you guys been for the last four-five years…sadly missing or in excuse mode…Obama’s a serial liar and fraud about everything…and now you’re surprised?

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