The “Usefully Disastrous” Sequester
By Ken K. Gourdin
A misconception apparently has arisen about the package of government spending cuts known as sequestration, or, the sequester. It is perceived as some hallowed being, conceived by some sort of Immaculate Conception. Thus, killing it would be an exceptionally egregious sin. I’m not sure why any of this is so, but it must be: nobody wants even to suggest the unthinkable, much less to carry it out. Either that, or Congress (or some other party or entity) is holding a gun to President Obama’s head so that he won’t do the unthinkable.
Why do I say that? President Obama has been crisscrossing the country for weeks, campaigning. I’m not sure why he’s campaigning, since he won election to a second term on November 6, 2012. But he’s campaigning for something. If the sequester went through, he told us, children would have food yanked from their very mouths, the elderly would die, the vulnerable would go without healthcare and education, federal prisons will be forced to empty, the FBI will be forced to stop arresting violators of federal statutes (and, mysteriously, local police and firefighters also would be prevented from doing their jobs, even though they are paid out of local [rather than federal] funds), air traffic controllers would no longer be able safely to guide travelers to their destinations (not to mention that Transportation Security Agents would be unable to screen would-be air travelers in a timely manner) . . . And on and on . . .
Memo to the President: the sequester was a bill; it came to life as does any other bill; there was nothing miraculous, or immaculate, or spectacular about its coming into being, and there was nothing hallowed about its existence; even though it passed through both Houses of Congress, you could have prevented all of these terrible, horrible, egregious, unthinkable things which you envision from happening by doing to this bill what you would do to any other bill with which you do not agree: you could have vetoed it! Then again (although I hate to be this cynical, since your motives no doubt are much purer than I’m about to suggest) as your former Chief of Staff (and current Chicago Mayor) Rahm Immanuel says, “Never let a crisis—no matter how artificially-manufactured—go to waste!” You could (if you were actually this calculating, and if I were actually cynical enough to suggest this) use this “crisis” to demonize your opposition in Congress.
Now that I think about it, why veto it if it’s that “useful”? Now I understand! Thanks for setting me straight, Mr. President! (I don’t know what I was thinking!)
Update: March 13, 2013 – It’s worth noting, too, that President Obama has been of two minds regarding the sequester. In stark contrast to the Prophet of Doom who racked up so many frequent-flier miles flitting hither and yon, speaking feverishly against the dire consequences the sequester portended (see, e.g., James C. Capretta and Tevi Troy, “Obama’s Sequester Scare Tactics,” National Review On Line, accessed at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/341712/obama-s-sequester-scare-tactics-james-c-capretta on March 17, 2013), President Obama threatened to do exactly what I said he should do if he considers the sequester to be such a bad piece of legislation: he threatened to veto it! (See, e.g., Augustino Fontevecchia (November 21, 2011), “Obama: I Will Veto Any Attempts to Get Rid of Automatic Spending Cuts, Forbes Magazine, accessed on line on March 17, 2013 at the following address: http://www.forbes.com/sites/afontevecchia/2011/11/21/obama-i-will-veto-attempts-to-get-rid-of-automatic-spending-cuts/).
Obama’s failure to follow through on his earlier veto threat simply confirms my suspicions that his allowing the sequester to take effect is nothing but a cynical political maneuver.