February 24, 2013

Advice for Obama on Sequester: Call the Republican Bluff

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Just eight days are left until the sequester, the latest installment in a series of Republican-manufactured monstrosities, that will wreak havoc upon America’s economy and governmental functions. While governors in both parties agree that the sequester would be devastating, Speaker Boehner and President Obama are nowhere near a deal.

Between government shutdowns, debt ceilings, fiscal cliffs and continuing resolutions, many people may not even be aware of the nature of the sequester or how it originated. The sequester dates back to the Budget Control Act of 2011, in which President Obama agreed to draconian cuts in order to convince the Republicans to raise the country’s debt ceiling, an action which had historically been routinely taken without question. The law also created a bipartisan Congressional “Supercommittee” responsible for reducing the nation’s debt even further. This Supercommitte subsequently (and predictably) utterly failed to agree on a deal, which led to the fiscal cliff showdown in December.

While the country narrowly avoided a cataclysmic event, only the taxation issues were resolved. The two sides agreed to put off any decisions about the spending cuts, also known as the sequester, until March 1.

Sequestration would greatly hurt our nation. It consists of $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts occurring over the next decade that are so ludicrous that the intent was for neither side to actually consider allowing them to happen.

The cuts would send our economy back into a recession. The sequester would result in budget cuts to federal agencies, like the FBI and TSA. The sequester would also result in less funding going towards things like education and food safety inspections. Furthermore, it would slash our defense budget, which some senators, including Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), feel would be devastating.

So as March 1, the date the sequester would begin, approaches, what should President Obama be doing?

Absolutely nothing.

The Republicans are once more attempting to extort unreasonable budget reductions by holding our economy hostage. To do so is puerile, irresponsible and does not reflect American democratic values. Although, voter suppression and gerrymandering also are in direct conflict with the democratic ideals of our nation, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.

Ever since the debt ceiling debacle, the Republicans have bullied President Obama. They have effectively threatened to wreck the economy, which is an unprecedented and dangerous tactic. But two can play that game.

Hawkish Republicans will balk at the prospect of their precious military industrial complex being compromised. The military budget, that some would deem unnecessarily high, has always been something the Republican party wishes to protect. Surely, they will panic if Obama plays it cool during the negotiations. Then, he can negotiate a much more reasonable deal, one involving both tax hikes and spending reductions—a plan favored by the majority of the nation.

In the event that the Republicans allow the sequester to happen anyway, they should be blamed for their inability to reach an equitable compromise. But I personally do not think the sequester will occur.

Speaker Boehner may be a smarmy, whiny, obstructionist corporate shill, but he isn’t an idiot. He recognizes the sequester’s ramifications, and (I hope) he won’t allow them to happen. He, and the rest of the Republican Party, are bluffing in order to gain leverage, and Obama cannot afford to yet again reinforce their abhorrent behavior with further concessions. Doing so will only encourage them to continue this in the future, and lately the Republicans are petulant, obstinate children who need to be put in their place.

It’s time for President Obama to grow a spine and show the Republicans he’s in charge.

Original Author: Michael Sun