Run for your lives! The Obama Jobs Sequester is coming!
The evil President Obama sneakily – and somehow avoiding the notice of Congress – inserted into a congressionally approved bill a provision that would make large, across-the-board cuts in domestic spending if Republicans and Democrats failed to work together to reach a grand bargain on spending, tackling tax revenues and federal spending in a unified and bipartisan way.
And now that congressional leaders have failed to agree on these items, the undiscriminatingly large cuts are about to fall on the federal budget, which will result in many lost jobs, particularly in the area of national defence, which is just terrible. And all because of Obama. Right?
At least that’s how Kimberley Strassel, writing in The Wall Street Journal, sees it:
A year ago, the president demanded a $500 billion “sequester” of defense dollars as a penalty should Congress fail to cut a grand debt deal. Congress of course failed, and Mr. Obama’s sequester is now imminent. The sequester slash comes on top of the $487 billion in defense cuts Mr. Obama had already ordered in January of this year, threatening the likes of Mansfield.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned of the damage the sequester will do to national security. Yet the far more immediate political problem for Mr. Obama is that the cuts are compounding his domestic jobs liability—in the final stretch of the campaign.
More than one million lost private-sector jobs, to get down to it, as estimated by groups ranging from the National Association of Manufacturers to the Aerospace Industries Association. Military jobs are on the block, but the bulk of the pink slips will come from private businesses—from giant defense companies on down to smaller businesses that are the economic mainstays of their communities. They’ll come from states crucial for President Obama’s re-election: Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and more.
So apparently, according to the Kimberley Strassel school of thought, what we should be doing in this recession is cutting government spending, because government doesn’t create jobs, entrepreneurs do. Unless that government spending is supporting jobs in the defence sector, of course, in which case we should be increasing it, dramatically!
Some more “moderate” Republicans argue that while they support cuts in principle, they are appalled by these looming defence cuts in particular because they are across-the-board and arbitrary, and pay little heed to particular defence programs or areas that could be more reasonably targetted for cutting. That’s the point of the sequester that they and their Democratic colleagues agreed to. It inflicts blind, undisciminating pain on areas of government spending precious to both sides of the political aisle, with the intention of presenting such an unthinkably draconian package of cuts that leaders would get together to forge a compromise.
If you don’t like the idea of a scythe being taken to defence spending or to welfare programmes without regard to their individual merit, get together, in the name of patriotism and bipartisanship, and for the sake of the people who elected you, and hammer out a compromise that cuts the welfare state while raising tax revenues to help close the massive hole in America’s federal budget.
Interestingly, you never hear Republicans making the same arguments against across-the-board cuts to welfare programmes, or social security, or food stamps. In those cases, apparently, it is fine to slash away at the budget with little regard for the people who were led to believe by their government (Republicans as much as Democrats) that certain benefits would be available to them, and who planned their lives accordingly, often with little left in reserve.
We can argue the rights and wrongs of this – personally I find the welfare state too generous, and politicians of all sides too cowardly in failing to tell voters the truth about the unsustainability of current levels of provision over the past recent decades – but surely we can all agree that just as you cannot rip a bandage from an open wound and expect the patient to be unharmed, so you cannot remove anticipated benefits or support from citizens overnight, at a time of economic hardship, and expect their lives, or the social fabric, to remain stable.
In fact, there is only one other area of government spending besides national defence that I can think of where Republicans have come out in outraged horror at the mere talk of blanket cutbacks – I’m speaking, of course, about Medicare. Those lofty words about scaling back federal spending and shrinking the size of government sure do fly out of the window awfully fast when one of their core constituencies (in this case, the grey vote) is in the firing line.
But Kimberley A. Strassel is not troubled by any of these arguments or contradictions, content instead to bob gently in the vast ocean of her own ignorance, wilful self-deception and cynically fiscally irresponsible propaganda.
No, for her it is the Obama Jobs Sequester, the Machiavellian outcome that he desired all along in order to gut his own nation’s capacity to defend itself. It’s the only plausible explanation for how we find ourselves in this situation. Unless it isn’t.