Barack Obama apparently hoped that a private meeting with GOP governors would help push House Republicans to compromise on the sequester. The meeting backfired in that regard, at least partially. The private meeting so incensed Nikki Haley that she could barely contain herself afterward at the US Chamber of Commerce afterward, and while she expressed frustration with both sides, she delivered a withering shot at Obama for refusing to make even slight cuts in federal spending:
“I could not be more frustrated than I am right now,” Haley told reporters after the meeting. She said that when she asked Obama if he would consider a last-minute plan to shave about 2 percent from the annual federal budget without increasing taxes, the answer was “no.”
“My kids could go and find $83 billion out of a $4 trillion budget,” Haley said. “This is not rocket science.”
She didn’t spare House Republicans, either, or Senate Democrats for that matter, for taking a week off while this issue sat on the table:
Haley also made no effort to spare congressional Republicans, who took last week off with only a few days left before the sequestration process was set to begin.
“There is no leadership. There is no confidence. There is nothing that shows us that they actually care about what they’re doing,” Haley said. “What they’re doing is playing games, and we as the taxpayers are having to cover for their games. We’re not going to do it anymore.”
Haley also noted that “no one should be going home. No one should be playing golf. No one should be taking vacations.”
Haley wasn’t alone on either score. While governors have some interest in fixing the sequester, those attending the meeting didn’t appreciate the ham-handed approach Obama took to the meeting even before it started, according to Byron York:
When reporters asked about that new state-by-state analysis of possible cuts — which just happened to be released on the eve of the meeting — the governors saw a White House political trap.
“You all got it in the media before we got those,” said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. “So I think it’s pretty clear that those were put out for political purposes … If you were serious about having a discussion with the governors about the implications, you wouldn’t give it to the press before you gave it to the governors.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal added that Obama seemed bound and determined to use the sequestration fight to win higher taxes, willing to hold out the prospect of painful cuts to accomplish his goal.
“I think the president is trying to force us into a false choice,” Jindal said. “The reality is, there is no reason for these cuts to be made this way.” Obama could instruct his Cabinet to emphasize cuts to spending on things like consultants, Jindal said, and not on things like Head Start. “It is the president’s job as the chief executive to prioritize.”
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the governors asked Obama to come up with better cuts, or even to delay future spending, like the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare, if the budget situation is as dire as the administration says. “The answer to everything we got was no,” Haley said.
I think Admiral Ackbar gave the best description of this effort from Obama:
Small wonder Obama chased the press out of the room when the governors wanted to start asking questions.