Fear is a powerful motivator. As it turns out, it’s also a good political tool. But President Obama is taking it about twenty steps too far in his quest to hyperbolize the potential effects of the sequester. Seemingly every day now he’s trotting out another group – first responders, firemen, teachers – to highlight the potential disaster of the relatively small budget cuts.
According to the president, “this meat-cleaver approach” will “jeopardize military readiness” and “eviscerate job-creating investments.” On top of that it will cause federal prosecutors to “let criminals go,” it will “cause delays at airports,” force parents to “scramble for child care,” and will cause Americans to “lose access to primary care.”
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano did her part to pour gasoline on the fire, saying that u.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has already released “several hundred” immigrants from detention facilities just in anticipation of the cuts. Even Democrats questioned the move.
Doris Meissner, from President Clinton’s White House, questions whether the decision is intended to show “how damaging sequestration is”? Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told the Washington Post that it was “a scare tactic” designed to tell leery voters, ‘Look, we’re going to release illegal aliens, they’re coming for your family!”’
As if such scare tactics weren’t disgusting enough, the White House has stooped to out and out lies to try and sway public opinion to their side. The Washington Post reports:
“There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to come up with an example, Duncan named a single county in West Virginia and acknowledged, “whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.”
And, as it turns out, it isn’t.
Officials in Kanawha County, West Virginia say that the “transfer notices” sent to at least 104 educators had more to do with a separate matter that involves a change in the way West Virginia allocates federal dollars designated for poor children.
But perhaps the worst piece of political demagoguery of them all was the President announcing that the U.S.S. Harry Truman, which was scheduled to deploy to the Persian Gulf, will be staying stateside because of the cuts. The implicit message was that the sequester would threaten the United States’ ability to deal with the ongoing, growing threat posed by Iran, which is patently untrue.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Ralph Peters called the move “ostentatious,” like “Donald Trump claiming he can’t afford a cab.” The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, who penned a detailed chronicle of the sequester’s creation, said the commander-in-chief’s decision to not deploy the carrier was a “kind of madness that I haven’t seen in a long time.”
“Can you imagine Ronald Reagan sitting there and saying ‘Oh, by the way, I can’t do this because of some budget document?” Woodward asked on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “[O]r even Bill Clinton saying, ‘You know, I’m not going to attack Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters,’ as he did when Clinton was president because of some budget document.”
The answer is no, because Obama isn’t Clinton, and he sure as heck isn’t Reagan. What he is a scaremonger who bends public opinion to his will with fear because he can’t do it with reason or facts. Because in this case the evidence is clearly against him. As the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes, “[I]f any of these cataclysms do come to pass, then they will be mostly Mr. Obama’s own creation. The truth is that the sequester already gives the White House the legal flexibility to avoid doom, if a 5% cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency counts as doom.”
Nevertheless, the President wants you to believe the world is ending when the federal government will still spend $15 billion more than it did last year and 30% more than it did just five years ago. Why? Because fear works. And hyperbole sells.