American Elephants

What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive* by The Elephant's Child

I would guess that not many Americans are interested in, or even know what “the Sequester” is. Let’s just say it falls in the strategy and tactics portion of politics involving the budget. The federal budget is always a complicated matter for Congress. Republicans are mindful of ordinary family budgets especially at a time when it is a big worry for many families, and concerned about thrift and balancing the budget which simply means — don’t be spending more than you take in.

Any family understands that you’re better off when you have something left over after you pay the bills. And if it’s the other way around, and you have to put too much on the credit card, it can make your life miserable. The United States has put way too much on the national credit card, and Republicans fear for the future if we don’t put our house in order.

President Obama and the Democrats insist that spending is not a problem. They believe in Keynesian economics which tells them that if you just put money into the economy, there is a multiplier effect as those dollars are passed around. They think it is around 1.5 x or even 2.5 x.  That’s why they believed in the stimulus, and all the projects that paid for windmills or green jobs, or even new government buildings.

So there’s not much agreement between the two parties. The White House devised a tactic to force Republicans to give in on Democrats’ spending requests, called the “sequester.” Because it forced across-the-board cuts, with the greatest percentage coming from defense, they thought that Republicans would give in to prevent big cuts from defense. Republicans recognized the tactic, and assumed that letting it take effect was the only way they were going to get Democrats to agree to cut back, spat it out, and said let’s go for the sequester.

President Obama decided that if Republicans were going to make them cut spending, the cuts would all be centered on those budget items that would most painful and most disruptive for the public — so they would blame the Republicans for their discomfort. Word apparently went out to all departments from the White House to make whatever they were cutting as painful as possible and as public as possible.

The Republicans did not cave. Obama had not expected that. Instead of calling the battle off and agreeing that it was quite possible to cut back on the spending, for the cuts were not to the current budget, but to the additional appropriations which were more than they spent last year anyway.

Republicans were offended at the unnecessary attempts to make minor cuts in spending painful, and are holding hearings to find out just why departments were cutting in such ways. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who is a former federal attorney, wanted to know why Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of Homeland Security, chose to release over 2,000 illegal immigrants who were being held in immigrant jails, among them ten level 1 aggravated felons to the public. Rep. Gowdy questioned DHS Under Secretary, Management, Rafael Borras:

But you agree with me that the decision to release level 1, aggravated felons was not the only option that you had, there were other places that you could have cut costs?

There’s the fictional firing of teachers, the closing of the White House for student tours, the furloughing of meat inspectors.  Food stamps for Mexican illegals survived the Sequester, as did a program to advertise free food stamps for illegals in our consulates abroad.

Mr. Obama is a fierce competitor, but he misjudged his strategy, and now he is in full damage control mode.

*Sir Walter Scott: Marmion

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