Reuters writes today, “Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress expressed surprise and doubt on Tuesday about President Barack Obama’s comment in debate with Republican challenger Mitt Romney that the automatic spending cuts set for the new year ‘will not happen.’”
Obama said, “First of all, the sequester is not something I proposed, it’s something that Congress proposed. It will not happen.”
There are two major problems with this: first, the idea for sequestration featuring massive cuts to our military actually came from Obama’s White House. Second, the president has done nothing to prevent these cuts over the last year, and presented no plan to avoid them.
Last month, Politico reported, “The book ‘The Price of Politics,’ by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, makes it clear the idea for the draconian spending cuts originated in the White House – and not in Congress. . . . Then-OMB Director Jack Lew, now the White House chief of staff, and White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors pitched the idea to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Woodward writes.” In the book, Woodward wrote, “Lew and Nabors went to the Senate to meet with Reid and his chief of staff, David Krone. ‘We have an idea for the trigger,’ Lew said. ‘What’s the idea?’ Reid asked skeptically. ‘Sequestration.’” Speaker Boehner even has a picture of this passage from the Woodward book on his website today.
But if President Obama has suddenly decided that he opposes the draconian defense cuts that were proposed by his White House, he’s made no move to stave them off. Politico asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, for his reaction: “I was astonished, I almost fell out of my chair when the president said, ‘Don’t worry, sequestration won’t happen.’ We’ve been begging the president to sit down with us to avoid what his own secretary of defense said would be a devastating blow to our national security. He just said, ‘Don’t worry, sequestration won’t happen.’”
Reaction from the House was similar, according to Politico. “‘It is a nice line, but for more than a year the president hasn’t lifted a finger to avert the crisis,’ said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) ‘Instead, his policies and positions have increased uncertainty for our troops and the men and women who support them. The effects of sequestration can already be felt. Jobs have already been lost. The president and his party in the Senate have failed to offer even a single real solution that could resolve sequestration. If the president is determined that these cuts won’t happen, why has he drug it out this long?’”
As a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters, “[W]e were all surprised by the President saying that the sequester ‘will not happen’ given that he still hasn’t presented a plan to make sure it ‘will not happen.’ While the Republican-led House has already taken action, Democrats in the Senate haven’t even passed a budget, and the President has presented no plan to prevent the defense cuts.”