True, the department would have some “wiggle room” to soften the blow, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis. That would take Congress‘ approval to allow the Defense Department to shift funds from one account to another, a jealously guarded management tool that lawmakers refuse to yield to the executive branch.
How did we get into this mess? Mr. Obama, with help from his friends in the news media, is blaming the Republicans, but Mr. Boehner tells us a much different story about how the government ended up in this sequester box.
When negotiations over the debt-limit battle reached a bottleneck in 2011, Mr. Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell worked out a bipartisan plan to cap discretionary spending and create a special House-Senate supercommittee to come up with $1.2 trillion in budget cuts. If they didn’t, the debt limit would not be raised, presumably forcing a compromise.
Mr. Obama, though, “was determined not to face another debt-limit increase before his re-election campaign,” Mr. Boehner explained in his op ed column. “Having just blown up one deal, the president scuttled this bipartisan, bicameral agreement. His solution? A sequester.”
With yet another debt-limit crisis breathing down their necks, both parties “reluctantly accepted the president’s demand for the sequester,” and the deal was approved with bipartisan support.
In the end, the supercommittee failed to agree to any budget plan, even though Republicans proposed a mix of spending cuts and additional revenue through tax reforms. “As a result, the president’s sequester is now imminent,” Mr. Boehner said.
House Republicans have passed two budget-cutting plans to replace sequestration. They gave Mr. Obama a vote on higher taxes on people earning more than $400,000 a year, giving him $600 billion in new revenue.
What has Mr. Obama come up with in return? Photo ops, finger-pointing, fear-mongering news conferences, but no budget-cutting plan to prevent sequestration from taking place.
He continues to insist that any deal must include higher taxes or else he seems ready to let sequestration do its work. For four straight years, he has been calling for higher tax rates, something he couldn’t get when the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. Yet Mr. Boehner correctly says “the tax debate is closed.”
With the economy slowing to a crawl, new housing starts declining and unemployment claims on the rise again, this is no time to be increasing taxes on anyone.
The ball is now in Mr. Obama’s court, and as a result of his tax-driven, politically motivated intransigence, he will be held responsible for any economic crisis that follows.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.
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