The last week I’ve found myself in the odd position of giving President Obama advice. Namely, that he should drop his increasingly farcical campaign trying to sell the sequester as some sort of domestic armageddon. CBS News provides a breakdown of the Obama silliness:
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that major airports had seen lines ballooning to 150-200 percent their normal size.
. . . The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, however, that “officials representing a dozen major airports said there were few if any unusual flight delays or lines at security or customs checkpoints.” That included an official at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, which is one of the two airports that had been specifically cited by Customs and Border Protection.
On Friday, meanwhile, President Obama said that janitors at the U.S. Capitol would receive a pay cut due to the sequester cuts. Carlos Elias, the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol building and the Capitol Visitors Center, quickly emailed employees to say “This is NOT TRUE,” adding that “The pay and benefits of EACH of our employees WILL NOT be impacted.”
The prior Sunday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan had said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.” He later acknowledged that he “misspoke” after fact checkers found no evidence for the claim.
Sadly, the craziness does not stop there. The White House was able to demonstrate one concrete impact of the sequester – they are going to cancel White House tours, citing staffing reductions as a result of the sequester. Somehow, someway the Capitol has managed to keep the tours running.
“While I’m disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours, I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue,” Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “Under the leadership of the House officers and their teams . . . planning for the possibility of sequestration has been underway for some time.”
Stunts like these are not only petty and ham-handed, they’re out-and-out demonstrations of Obama’s intent: maximize public pain to maximize Democrats’ leverage. There are myriad other things the President could have done rather than cut public tours to the White House. One idea, is to simply stop jetting around on Air Force one to try and convince people about how bad the sequester is. Just one hour on Air Force One costs taxpayers $181,757, and for a president that travels more than any other, that’s a lot of tours to a lot of people.
But the White House isn’t interested in finding alternatives. As Conn Carroll writes for the Washington Examiner,
“For perhaps the first time in the history of the United States, it is in the political interest of a president to inflict maximum pain on the American people. Obama could have spent the last 16 months preparing to mitigate sequestration’s impact on the American people, as any responsible manager would have. Instead, he has done the opposite, explicitly ordering government agencies not to prepare for the worst.”
And lest you think that’s just some Republican-tinged hyperbole check out this leaked email from USDA official Charles Brown telling his staff not to try and mitigate the impact of the sequester’s cuts.
“We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs,” Brown writes. “So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.”
Such obvious politicking comes with real consequences for the administration. If Obama continues to sell doom and gloom that never arrives, the public may begin to see through the liberal’s stimulus charade. Indeed, they may realize that there is a lot of spending in Washington that can be cut that would have little to no impact on their everyday lives. If Obama wants to maintain any credibility on spending issues, he may want to stop trumping up the benign sequester.
Or maybe I should just sit back, shut my yap and watch Obama do what Republicans have thus far been unable to: destroy his credibility.