Sequester Cynicism
Obama is harming and endangering Americans so they will scream for more spending.

(AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)


Deroy Murdock

Not lately, if ever, has a U.S. president put Americans in physical danger in order to score cheap partisan points. Obama’s just-reversed furlough of FAA employees increased the probability that overstretched, unseasoned, or distracted air-traffic controllers might miscalculate — possibly with fatal results. But what did Obama care? Blaming Republicans was his mission, even if that made Americans endure long airport lines, flight delays, and greater risk of air disasters.

As the Wall Street Journal observed on April 26, “The FAA’s all-hands furloughs managed to convert a less than 4 percent FAA budget cut into a 10 percent air-traffic control cut that would delay 40 percent of flights.” 

The White House website claims that “because Republicans in Congress allowed a series of harmful, automatic budget cuts — called the sequester,” Americans ache. Thus, “travelers were stuck for hours in airports and on planes.”

Congress did Obama’s job for him, giving the FAA the flexibility to respect the sequester’s spending limits but prioritize air safety. In response, Obama whined in his April 27 radio address, “Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they’ve decided it was a bad idea all along.” Never mind that the sequester was Obama’s idea all along, as Washington Post legend Bob Woodward proved last February.

This all fits what the TrueSpeak Institute’s Jim Guirard calls Obama’s “harm offensive.” The one-time chief of staff to Louisiana’s late Democratic senator Russell Long says, “Obama’s strategy, tactics, and constant modus operandi seem to be ‘First, do all possible harm’ to the public in managing the mandated spending limitations, and then blame the damage, the suffering, and — in the case of airline safety — the deadly danger on the Republicans.”

Senior federal officials followed Obama’s example. As one FAA staffer complained in the Wall Street Journal, “The FAA management has stated in meetings that they need to make the furloughs as hard as possible for the public so that they understand how serious it is.” Another explained: “I am disgusted with everything that I see since the sequester took place. . . . Whether in HQ or at the field level, it is clear that our management has no intention of managing anything. The only effort that I see is geared towards generating fear and demonstrating failure.”

Team Obama also exposed Americans to the menace of tainted meat (through reduced food inspections, which Obama planned, but Congress prevented) and even wrongly released 2,232 illegal-alien detainees, including 629 convicted criminals. This all seems concocted to make Americans demand an end to the sequester and a return to spend-o-rama.

Obama’s recklessness is even more disgraceful given that he could recoup 79 percent of the $85 billion sequester by implementing $67 billion in savings recommended by federal inspectors general.

As the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee reported March 5, these unexecuted reductions in disorganization and theft have swelled from $26 billion in January 2009 to $67 billion today, up 157 percent since Obama arrived. The study added, “The total number of open and unimplemented recommendations has increased by more than 55 percent, from 10,894 in 2009 to 16,906 in 2012.”

This sum is massive. In fact, the committee chaired by Representative Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) revealed:

$67 billion is roughly equivalent to the combined amount of money requested in President Obama’s 2013 budget for the Department of Energy ($15.6 billion), the Department of Transportation ($13.8 billion), the Department of Interior ($11.4 billion), the Social Security Administration ($9.0 billion), the Environmental Protection Agency ($8.3 billion), the National Science Foundation ($7.4 billion), the Corporation for National and Community Service ($1.1 billion), and the Small Business Administration ($0.9 billion).

When this report was released, inspector general’s offices were vacant at the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, and State as well as the Agency for International Development. “These six agencies collectively represent more than one quarter of the President’s entire 2013 budget,” the House report found. “They employ more than three quarters of the entire federal workforce.”

In other words, Obama was well into his second term with these watchdogs either unappointed or not shepherded through the Senate’s confirmation process. This has left $902.6 billion in spending and 3,512,900 federal employees without the investigative and auditing supervision that IGs provide.

So, what kinds of repairs is Obama neglecting?

Information systems remain vulnerable to sabotage. For instance, NASA’s IG declared that “six computer servers associated with information technology (IT) assets that control spacecraft and contain critical data had vulnerabilities that would allow a remote attacker to take control of or render them unavailable.”

Federal bureaucrats too often write checks in their sleep. As Oversight observes, “agencies were sometimes too trusting, allowing contractors to bill after the fact in cases in which prices were not set in advance.”

Federal officials are equally drowsy about collections. The Pentagon thus leaves $1 billion on the table annually. As the House paper specifies: “A large portion of this amount was the outstanding recoveries of payments made that were later deemed unallowable, including payments to deceased, retired military members.”

These $67 billion should be used for tax relief, national-debt reduction, or legitimate federal services — such as controlling airplanes, excluding E. coli from hamburger, and resuming White House tours.

Obama is doing something diabolical: harming and endangering Americans so they will scream for more spending. Targeting the people this way confirms that Obama’s reign has little to do with good intentions and lots to do with swelling Washington’s budget and deepening its penetration in our lives.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.