The Conversation

Sequester: The Sequester was Obama's Idea.

USDA Email Confirms What We Were All Thinking

Mar 5, 2013 1:23 PM PT

In response to USDA Email: Don't Contradict Us on Sequester's Impact:

 The first time I heard Brit Hume say that he was hearing that Obama administration officials were going to make sure the sequestration cuts were as painful as possible, I thought it was a very controversial thing to say. Would the Obama administration really punish the American people just to save face and blame Republicans? My God. But Hume doubled down on it, last night on O'Reilly, saying: “The President Seems Prepared To Let The Public Suffer Almost As Much As Possible As Long As He Can Blame Somebody Else”.

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USDA Email: Don't Contradict Us on Sequester's Impact

Mar 5, 2013 1:03 PM PT

The USDA contains a department called the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service whose role is to protect the nation's agriculture from pests and disease. Like everyone else, their budget is being cut by the sequester.

Yesterday a regional manager named Charles Brown asked his superiors during a conference call how much flexibility he had in deciding how cuts are spread across the region. According to an email which made its way to Rep. Tim Griffin, the response was as follows:

We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that "APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 States in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs." So, it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.

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Gohmert: No Federal Funds to Transport Obama to/from Golf Courses Until WH Tours Resume

Mar 5, 2013 12:49 PM PT

Congressman Gohmert (R-TX) introduced an amendment to the Continuing Resolution preventing Obama from using federal funds to transport himself to/from a golf course until White House resumes giving tours to the public. 

Today, the White House Vistor's Office sent out an email to interested parties that announces the suspension of all White House Tours due to the sequester cuts. 

ATTN Interested Parties,

Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours. 

We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular Spring touring season.   For updates regarding this situation, please contact the White House Visitors Office 24 Hour Hotline at (202) XXX-XXXX.


White House Visitors Office

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Bill Keller Blames Obama for the Sequester

Mar 4, 2013 11:17 AM PT

Bill Keller of the NY Times wrote an op-ed over the weekend which, while still taking some shots at the GOP, managed to lay some of the blame for "the large mess we are in" at the President's feet.

The piece is titled "Obama's Fault" and that more or less sums up the theme. Keller's opening paragraph sounds like something Charles Krauthammer might have written, "The White House spent last week in full campaign hysteria, blitzing online followers with the message that heartless Republicans are prepared to transform America into 'Les Misérables' in order to protect 'millionaires and billionaires, oil companies, vacation homes, and private jet owners.'”

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Romney: "It kills me not to be there, doing what needs to be done."

Mar 3, 2013 9:03 PM PT

Mitt Romney gave Fox News Sunday what they describe as an "unflinching review of his unsuccessful campaign," in which he criticized President Obama's mishandling of sequestration, and expressed a heartfelt desire to be the one handling those tough decisions right now:

It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done... The President is out campaigning to the American people, doing rallies around the country, flying around the country and berating Republicans and blaming and pointing.  That causes the Republicans to retrench and to put up a wall and to fight back.

Decisions like sequestration (and the vastly larger spending cuts and entitlement reforms that must lie beyond it, if the American system of government is to survive) are the sort of thing Romney specialized in.  America had a chance to hire one of the best turnaround managers in the business world.  Instead, they listened to a bottom-feeding campaign that accused a good man of tax evasion and murder, while swallowing an astonishing pile of lies from Obama about his alleged fiscal responsibility.  It's almost delirious to revisit the garbage Obama was selling in his campaign appearances and presidential debates now.  Remember $3 of spending cuts for every $1 of tax increases?

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Sequestration Impacting US Coast Guard

Mar 2, 2013 5:24 PM PT

The sequestration cuts are already taking a toll on Florida’s aviation industry as two of South Florida’s smallest airports- North Perry in Broward and Opa-Locka in Miami-Dade will go “dark” in April.  The FAA has slated for the closing of 189 federal air traffic control towers on April 1. According to Federal officials, this would leave “private pilots to navigate themselves to the runways without help from air-traffic controllers,” also saying that they don’t feel that “safety would be compromised.”


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Ballad of the DC Sequester Dustbowl

Mar 2, 2013 12:08 PM PT

They used to tell me I was building a dream
I joined the President's mob
There were rules to make and budgets to spend
At my EPA, it was my job

They used to tell me I was building a dream
With hope and change straight ahead
But now that Sequester has cut 2 percent
The dream is now dead

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State-run media rides to the rescue on sequestration

Mar 2, 2013 7:34 AM PT

Far from challenging Obama for his obvious lies on sequestration, some quarters of the media (and I'm being charitable by saying "some") are happily carrying his water and running "news items" that could have been written by David Axelrod.  Oh, wait, that is his official job at MSNBC now.  

The Associated Press gets the award for ripping a headline straight out of a White House strategy memo, with the following Tweet: "BREAKING: Obama signs order to begin $85 billion in spending cuts that he opposed but couldn't avert."

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Obama caught lying about the sequester again

Mar 2, 2013 7:22 AM PT

And it comes from a two-Pinoochio fact check at the Washington Post.  Wait, did I say two Pinocchios?  Glenn Kessler updated it to four Pinocchios - the full-on total-B.S. rating - after the Architect for the Capitol sent him some documentation and bluntly stated the President's comments were "not true."

The comment in question was his warning about the dire cuts to Capitol janitorial services:

Starting tomorrow everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol. Now that Congress has left, somebody’s going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage. They’re going to have less pay. The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they’ve got to figure out how to manage that. That’s real.

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Deficits: world-shaking menace or irrelevant distraction?

Mar 1, 2013 12:19 PM PT

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg became the latest big spender to dismiss concerns about the deficit, in the course of decrying sequestration as an unfair waterboarding of our beloved, endlessly benevolent government.  "When it comes to the United States federal government, people do seem willing to lend us an infinite amount of money," he mused, which means it's crazy to compare Uncle Sam's spendthrift ways with the manner in which a household or business manages its finances.  

"It's the old story: If you owe the bank $50,000, you got a problem.  If you owe the bank $50 million, they got a problem," the Mayor nattered on.  But what if you owe a bunch of banks - some of which hate you and use your interest payments to finance aggressive military buildups - $400 billion a year, and then borrow another $800 billion from yourself, and print up a fresh pile of dollar bills every night in the basement?  We can only hope to God that the world's credit agencies and investors didn't pay attention to this idiot.

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Sec. Duncan Does His Best Susan Rice Impersonation

Feb 27, 2013 2:29 PM PT

Secretary Duncan's statement about sequester on Sunday's Face the Nation is about as accurate as Susan Rice's explanation of the cause of the 9/11 attack on our Benghazi consulate. In both cases, their superiors at the White House, who sent them out to peddle bogus information, deserve most of the blame.

On Sunday, Sec. Duncan claimed, "There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall." Over at the Washington Post Karen Tumulty and Lyndsey Layton do a nice job puncturing this bit of White House hype:

When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to come up with an example, Duncan named a single county in West Virginia and acknowledged, “whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.”

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Madness: the friction between ideological will and stubborn reality

Feb 27, 2013 12:30 PM PT

In response to Bob Woodward Calls Out Sequester "Madness":

I have a similar feeling about the "madness" of King Barack.  I've referred to him as "mad" before, but it's not gibbering lunacy (well, okay, I think I used that phrase once.)  It's a deliberate effort to move reality into alignment with his will.  Obama thinks that if he concentrates on his "Republicans caused the sequester and want to kill you all so their friends will get rich" narrative hard enough, it will become reality.

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Bob Woodward Calls Out Sequester "Madness"

Feb 27, 2013 11:13 AM PT

Bob Woodward doesn't seem to appreciate the response his reporting has received from the White House. Here he compares the Commander in Chief, unfavorably, to several of his predecessors and concludes the President is behaving with a kind of "madness." [h/t NewsBusters]

And so we now have the president going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement, “I can't do what I need to do to protect the country.” That's a kind of madness that I haven't seen in a long time.

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Pro- and anti-government fanaticism

Feb 25, 2013 9:17 PM PT

David "Pants Crease" Brooks chipped in to help his beloved Barack out of the sequestration corner he's painted himself into, by decrying sequestration as "mindless anti-government fanaticism, which doesn't separate the good from the bad... it just cuts."

So what does that make the ridiculous geyser of indiscriminate spending, the fountain of Solyndras and welfare cell phones and videogame studies and six-figure bureaucrats gushing from Washington over these past decades, and erupting with particular intensity over the last four?  Mindless pro-government fanaticism?

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My only chance to brag to Iowahawk

Feb 25, 2013 6:50 PM PT

In response to I'm a People Person, Dammit:

From my 2011 article at The Daily Caller, "America Needs the Bobs":

We need executioners of government spending. A good place to start is D.C.  Every bureaucrat needs to answer the question the Bobs put forth in Office  Space: What would you say you do here?

Unfortunately, we can’t unload our country’s problems on the Bobs. Voters who  are committed to conservative principles need to be the Bobs. Some government  programs will need to be cut. Maybe some that benefit people you know. Some  federal employees will need to be laid off. Maybe some you know. These are the  hard choices that Congress and the super-committee will need to make. Voters  need to have the maturity and resolve to support those who put our country’s financial  stability first.

Democrats' Plan Cuts $55B vs. $85B in Sequester, But There's a Gimmick

Feb 25, 2013 5:31 PM PT

The President is doing his best to convince the public that $85B in cuts this year will be the equivalent of the apocalypse. Meanwhile, the Democratic Senate plan he has endorsed contains $110B in deficit reduction split evenly between cuts and revenues. That means the President's plan is for $55B in cuts.

How is it possible that $85B in cuts means the end of the world but $55B is responsible and painless? Here's the catch. According to the Hill, the $55B in cuts is divided equally between discretionary spending and the military. The military half, totaling $27.5B, "would be phased in between 2015 and 2021."

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Sequestration apocalypse

Feb 25, 2013 2:24 PM PT

In response to Sequester Mania: Coburn Says Let's Cut the Zombie Apocalypse Training, Sno-Cone Machines and Underwater Robots:

Sorry, Liz, no can do.  The zombie apocalypse training, Martian pizza research, and studies of the mating habits of transgendered crack-addicted robot squirrels have to stay put.  Instead, if we cut spending by 2.6 percent, we'll just have to make do without border security.  Unless maybe we can re-purpose some of the robot squirrels to guard the border...

Sequester Mania: Coburn Says Let's Cut the Zombie Apocalypse Training, Sno-Cone Machines and Underwater Robots

Feb 25, 2013 2:13 PM PT

Today, Senator Coburn sent another letter to the White House Office of Budget and Management and one to DHS with some suggested budget cuts to avoid layoffs and furloughs of essential government employees and programs. 

The OMB  letter outlines ten low priority government jobs that are being advertised on (including drivers for the State Department). Eliminating these ten jobs alone could save as much as $1.4 million. Those funds could be redirected toward  more essential jobs being targeted for sequestration.   The Senator has cut 7 full time positions in his own office over the past year.  A complete list of jobs can be found here.

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President Reveals Ark of the Covenant, Warns Sequester Would Slash Research

Feb 25, 2013 9:24 AM PT

Expecting to see that headline on an AP story any day now. It would go something like this:

This morning President Obama shocked the nation when he unveiled the Ark of the Covenant on the White House lawn. The President said he was revealing the artifact now because critical "Ark research funding" could be cut if the sequester was allowed to go into effect.

"It was never my plan to reveal to the American people that the Ark of the Covenant has been kept in a government laboratory for the past 75 years, but my hand was forced," the President said to a crowd of stunned White House pool reporters.

"For 75 years this incredible relic has been studied at a secure, undisclosed location. I believe that work is important and needs to continue. But Ark research funding may have to be slashed as a result of the Republican sequester plan.

"Do we really want the Ark to just collect dust in a storage warehouse? Doesn't it make more sense to ask the wealthiest Americans to do a little more?

A flurry of questions broke out from the assembled media but the President held up both hands to quiet them. "I can't answer all of your questions at this time, but rest assured we've had top men, top people, working on this," the President replied. "But that may not continue for much longer," he added.

With that, the President walked from the podium back to the White House. Four men in black jumpsuits returned the Ark to the wooden crate it had arrived in and quickly loaded it onto Marine One...

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Big Government's appetite grows with its reach

Feb 25, 2013 8:15 AM PT

Last year, a Princeton professor took to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal to mock House Speaker John Boehner for daring to use the phrase "job-killing government spending."  The thesis of this editorial was that government spending might lead to excessive debt or taxes, and tax money could be "invested" in less than optimal ways, but it was silly for Boehner to suggest that spending in and of itself could be harmful to job creation; the professor, Alan Blinder, suggested that it was completely silly for anyone to believe that.

This got my dander up, so pondering the ways in which Blinder is wrong - in fact, I think absurdly wrong, to every bit the degree he thought Boehner was foolish - became a hobby of mine.  I recently put together an updated essay on the ways Big Government spending is inherently damaging to the economy.  But President Obama's sequestration theatrics lead me to think I should have included one more, perhaps ancillary, issue: government spending gives the government more power to make itself grow.

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SHAMELESS: Longer Lines at Airports Because...Sequester

Feb 21, 2013 8:33 AM PT

Hysteria over the sequester continues to heat up. Politco is reporting that Americans who travel will need to prepare themselves for longer lines and wait time at the airports. The reason: SEQUESTER. 

“These across-the-board cuts may punish travelers with flight delays, long security lines at Transportation Security Agency checkpoints and multi-hour waits to clear Customs and Border Protection,” Dow said. "There is absolutely no excuse for travelers in one of the world's most advanced nations to suffer through a travel process that wastes their precious time and resources.”

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Ezra Klein's Sequester Omission

Feb 19, 2013 5:05 PM PT

So Ezra Klein has a new piece outlining Bowles-Simpson 2.0 which is a plan to replace the $1.2T sequester with $2.4 T in cuts and tax reform. One of Ezra's big takeaways is "Simpson and Bowles have revised the tax ask way, way down." He even has a graph to illustrate the difference between Simpson-Bowles 1.0 and 2.0:

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Sequester Will Force Obama's Hand on Entitlements Says...The White House

Feb 19, 2013 9:27 AM PT

President Obama has been giving the sequester plenty of negative attention recently. Two weeks ago he made a statement about the sequester in which he called it a "self-inflicted wound" to the economy. Ten days ago he focused on it during his Weekly Address saying the cuts would make Americans "suffer." Then last week, in his State of the Union speech, the President called it "a really bad idea."

If you didn't know better you'd think all of this was a shock to the President. In fact, when the Debt Limit Deal was reached in 2011 the White House made clear that sequester was bad news by design. The White House Fact Sheet announcing the debt limit deal called sequester as "A Strong Enforcement Mechanism to Make All Sides Come Together."

If the fiscal committee took no action, the deal would automatically add nearly $500 billion in defense cuts on top of cuts already made, and, at the same time, it would cut critical programs like infrastructure or education.  That outcome would be unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alikecreating pressure for a bipartisan agreement without requiring the threat of a default with unthinkable consequences for our economy. 

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