After a tough three-day weekend of golfing with the boys away from Michelle and the girls, President Obama returns to work today with a press statement standing beside “a group of emergency responders who might have to absorb some of the sequestration cuts.”
Of course, as Bob Woodward reported, Obama is denouncing his own idea: “First, it was the White House. It was Obama and Jack Lew and Rob Nabors who went to the Democratic Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, and said, ‘this is the solution.’ But everyone has their fingerprints on this.”
Sequestration was put together as part of the budget deal in 2011. The administration had more than a year to work out an alternative; you’ll recall that the day after the 2012 election, House Speaker John Boehner declared, “we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions.”
On February 5, President Obama urged Congress to “pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months,” roughly three weeks before the deadline.
There’s a similar dynamic to all of the fights between Obama and Republican leaders in Congress. He claims to be adamantly opposed to the status quo, but his actions suggest otherwise. He wants a long-term budget deal, but won’t pressure the Senate to pass its own budget and only offers broad guidelines. He says he wants to ensure the long-term viability of entitlements, but won’t propose any bold reforms of his own.
He did propose – well, leak – his own immigration reform plan, but that appears more likely to blow up the delicate balance of support for the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” bill. After all, he’s basically telling Democrats that if they don’t like the Rubio-Schumer deal, they can hold out and push the president’s.
His rallying cry on guns is that the proposals… “deserve a vote”, not that they must pass.
What has Obama spent much of the past years campaigning against? The horror of budget cuts, the heartless cruelty of entitlement reform, the failure to enact comprehensive immigration reform, and the callousness of the “gun lobby.” Getting a bill passed in any of these areas would take away his ability to campaign on these issues as he aims to help Congressional Democrats in the 2014 midterms.