The President is intentionally hurting the nation and the people he’s entrusted to serve. In the name of the sequester, the White House’s own plan to clinch a budget deal last year, Obama is willfully and intentionally doing as much damage as possible.
The President rejected a proposal by the Senate Republicans to give the President more flexibility to pick and choose which programs should be cut to reach the $85 billion spending reduction over seven months mandated by the so-called sequester. That would have given him the opportunity to meet the requirements of the budget deal, without affecting the people our government is supposed to be serving. Keep in mind, that these legislatively mandated reductions are not cuts in actual spending, but only reflect a 2.5% reduction in the growth of government spending.
According to the President a few weeks ago, “There’s no smart way to do that [the sequester cuts],” he said. “These cuts are wrong. They’re not smart, they’re not fair. They’re a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.” This is a surprising admission that his own plan is, in fact, stupid!
Actually, Mr. President, there was a smart and prudent way to do it. The third annual installment of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report spelled out a reasonable way to meet the spending-growth reduction. According to Sen. Tom Coburn, “These are among the findings in the new GAO report that found 162 areas where services are duplicated or money is being wasted in the federal government. The annual cost of duplicative or wasteful programs is estimated at roughly $250 billion. That’s 250 billion dollars a year,” Coburn said. “Just in waste, in duplication, in stupidity, and lack of efficiency and effectiveness by the federal government. (It) makes you want to pull your hair out.”
By simply incorporating the GAO recommendations, cost savings amounting to three times the $85 billion reductions specified in the sequester deal could have been realized! And there would be no impact on travelers, no impact on meat inspections, no furloughed TSA agents or Department of Energy employees, and no impact on our military’s ability to protect the nation.
But Obama rejected congressionally authorized flexibility in applying the reductions, and he opted instead to make the sequester as painful as possible. The Washington Times reports of emails to department heads that the administration intended to make good on its warnings of the “painful” sequestration cuts. According to the Times, the emails directed agency heads, “not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of.”
It’s clear that Obama intends to make the cuts painful to average Americans while he and his family continue their lives of royalty, which we bankroll to the tune of $1.4 billion per year. In the seven weeks since he announced the White House tours would be cancelled, he’s had ten trips, and two all-star concerts in the White House. The only thing being cut at the White House is White House tours. Don’t hold your breath watching for the Obama’s to curtail their extravagant travel and vacation plans! And further proving that it’s all political, and that the President still does have discretion, Obamacare employees are not being furloughed, or facing reduced pay or work hours.
For air travelers it’s a different story, as they began this past week to feel the pain of the President’s decision as the Federal Aviation Administration has furloughed 1,500, or 10% of the nation’s 15,000 air traffic controllers. This has created delays of hundreds of flights.
Sen. Rand Paul said this week, “I think that it’s inexcusable to take important things like travel, air traffic controllers or meat inspectors or something that most of us agree we should have, and play a game with it,” the senator said. “The same day that [President Obama] announces that we have no self-guided tours in the White House, he sends $250 million to Egypt. We’ve got money. It’s a matter of priorities, and a good leader wouldn’t cut essential services. So I think it’s a bit of a charade and it ought to stop.”
Clearly the White House places politics ahead of the needs and interests of the American people. It would appear that either he thinks the blame should be ascribed to members of Congress who would not agree to the budget deal last year without some spending cuts, or he is intentionally curbing high profile, required services to show that we can’t cut a dime from actual spending. Most likely, it is for both of those reasons, which places his political agenda ahead of our interests.
The President rejected flexibility in applying the spending cuts, ignored the GAO report of where reductions could be made without adversely affecting services, and his agency heads are being instructed to make the cuts “as painful as possible.” This is not leadership; it’s ignominious politics, Chicago-style!
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at [email protected].