Obama Holding the U.S. Hostage: Opinion
It appears likely sequestration will require $85 billion in cuts to defense and non-entitlement government spending.
Unwilling to acknowledge the government has a spending problem -- over the last five years, outlays are up $1 trillion and three times the amount required by inflation -- and that tax revenue are short because his policies have instigated the weakest recovery since the Great Depression, Obama is threatening draconian measures if Republicans don't agree to more taxes.
Obama has announced meat inspectors will be furloughed and food shortages will result. His cabinet secretaries have threatened three-hour waits at airports to clear security, reduced embassy protection and border patrols, cutting the Persian Gulf Naval presence from two aircraft carriers to one, and the list goes on ....
Repeatedly, the Obama has exclaimed if congressional Republicans don't cooperate, spending cuts now could derail the hard-won recovery. It puzzles me how $85 billion in a $16 trillion economy could make such a difference, especially when tax increases of similar size, implemented on Jan. 1 at Obama's behest, had no similar effect in his mind.
The U.S. Constitution charges the President of the United States with running the government effectively on the money Congress provides. While appropriation legislation limits the fungibility of funds, the administration has considerable discretion allocating the 10% cuts in non-entitlement spending.
Military marching bands have more personnel than the State Department's Foreign Service has employees. I would rather jettison some tubas than Marine guards at embassies.
The Agriculture Department has one of the largest staffs of economists in the world, and the Social Security Administration employs a similar crop of dull number-crunchers. I fear for my brethren, but safe food is more important than yet another dull research paper.
To provide fuel and munitions to maintain the carrier presence in the Gulf, it would be better to trim ballooning military health-care costs, something Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has expressed sympathy about addressing.
That would require longer-term reforms, but Obama has refused to look at skyrocketing spending with a critical eye. He talks about balanced approaches to deficit reduction -- half spending and half taxes. However, instead of matching increases in payroll and income taxes imposed Jan. 1 with spending cuts, he pushed through more spending on unemployment insurance and other initiatives.
Now Obama is unwilling to manage effectively $85 billion in cuts across a $3.8 trillion government. Remember, administrative, research and public affairs outlays associated with entitlements are fair game, too. What about the White House budget?
Instead, he would rather blackmail Americans with food shortages, long lines at airports and the like, and invoke the specter of another recession to gain political advantage over the Republicans.