Cuts from the dreaded sequester are so small that they need not require substantial reductions in government head counts, early-released illegal alien prisoners, or aircraft carriers consigned to port instead of patrolling the seas.
The Obama Administration has so wildly overplayed its hand, threatening not only all of these things, but also teachers and firefighters (even though almost none of their costs are funded by the federal government), air traffic controllers, border patrol officers, and meat inspectors.
Even many “low-information voters” will understand that the impacts being suggested by parading cabinet secretaries would require spending cuts far greater than what will actually occur.
Therefore, the “mainstream” media, which may at first try to go along with the Obama team’s faux panic, will soon realize that they are making fools of themselves, even in the eyes of many who usually swallow their tripe unquestioningly.
Look for The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart to skewer the administration’s claims that the economic sky is falling; that will be the sign that Obama has jumped the shark in his desperation to keep a penny from being cut from government spending.
The question of “who will be blamed politically” assumes that the public will see sequestration as a negative. I suspect that, at least after the first few days, that assumption will be invalid. It will not turn into a question of the parties trying to blame each other, but rather of Republicans taking credit for not allowing it to be replaced with tax hikes. They should be careful not to crow over it as great policy because it’s not and because it was Obama’s idea. Instead, they need to make clear that Republicans made the best of yet another terrible situation created by this president’s remarkable unwillingness and inability to lead.
Republicans also should talk about the sequester in very measured tones, calmly putting it in the perspective it deserves:
- Actual cuts to spending this year will be a bit more than 1% of the federal budget
- Defense spending will still increase by over $100 billion over the coming decade
- Federal spending and the national debt still grow enormously in the next decade
- Claims that sequestration is a massive cut to government spending rely on a definition of the word “cut” that no rational person would accept
- To avoid this sort of thing in the future, it is time to get serious about entitlement reform
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