Quotes of the day

posted at 10:41 pm on February 26, 2013 by Allahpundit

[Obama] will divide, isolate and defeat Republicans using all the powers of his office and all his skills as a political campaigner. As Americans grow frustrated with the cuts, Republicans will reject their party’s no-tax mantra and demand that Congress end the standoff, even if it means raising some new revenue – just the way Obama is demanding.

Obama’s trying to speed this result, by releasing state by state details of the pain and suffering the sequester will cause, all meant to get Republicans to cave. And he’s got the biggest megaphone, hammering this message over and over in a way the divided Republican party cannot.

Except that message could cut both ways.

What if the public agrees that yes, there is a lot of pain and suffering – and turns to Obama wondering, why didn’t you do more to prevent it?

***

As the governors spoke, there was a real question of how much flexibility the president has to shape the cuts that are contained in the sequestration measure, which he proposed and signed into law with bipartisan support in 2011. Does Obama have the authority to move money around so government consultants would take more of a hit than Head Start?

Jindal believes so. “Everybody has known that this was coming,” he said. “When did [Obama] go to his Cabinet heads and say, ‘If you had to make these reductions, what would be the least painful way to do it?’ ”

There’s no indication Obama has done anything to make the cuts easier on the public. To the contrary, it is in his political interest to make the cuts as painful as possible and then blame them on Republicans.

***

There’s no question the belt-tightening will mean real pain for some workers and families. But is a 9-10 percent reduction in the military coffers, after a decade-long spending spree, really going to “hollow out” our force, making us a “second-rate power”?…

Some Republican critics of the administration – and staunch defenders of the military – say the impact on defense programs is overblown. “The reality is that this is just part of political theater, part of the campaign,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told ABC’s Jonathan Karl of President Obama. “He’s trying to scare the American people. He’s trying to distort the impact.”

To say, “‘well…we’re going to be hollowing out our military’… If that were really the case, the president should take my suggestion of postponing new spending programs,” Jindal said.

***

Since the day they were swept to power more than two years ago, the tea party’s legions in Washington have made dramatic federal spending cuts the centerpiece of an economic message that has dominated the national debate.

Now they’re about to get what they want.

Deep reductions in domestic and defense spending are set to begin Friday in a process known as sequestration, which will make progress toward the tea party’s goal of shrinking the government. What unfolds over the following months will be a high-stakes test of whether significant cuts in spending will help or hurt the economy — and the Republican Party’s brand…

Although Democratic and Republican leaders are pointing fingers, the tea party and its allies are happily accepting credit for the cuts.

***

We live in a period when politicians tend to see the world in a binary fashion; everything is either a one or a zero, and there is a clear winner and a clear loser in every situation. But with the sequester, at least after the first few days, it’s possible that both sides could lose, that people won’t distinguish between Democrats or Republicans but will instead excoriate “those politicians in Washington” as a whole…

But even districts and states that are normally neither competitive nor potentially competitive can get that way in the face of public anguish and rage. During these times, anger against Washington reaches a certain point and creates an environment in which an unusually large (relatively speaking) number of incumbents either lose or have surprisingly close primary contests. For those looking at running for the Senate, a governor’s mansion, or the White House, being tagged as a candidate running from Congress is no prize either. In short, this kind of debacle hurts all incumbents, regardless of whether they wear red or blue jerseys.

***

It is perhaps more likely that the fate of the sequester cuts—for which most Republicans and Democrats have expressed disdain—may be tied to the upcoming fight over increasing the nation’s ability to continue borrowing, and perhaps a larger “grand bargain” to address the nation’s debt. A measure approved in January put off a debt-ceiling decision until May 19, and some Republicans have said they are willing to consider allowing the nation to default unless deeper budget cuts are enacted. The Treasury will be able to keep meeting the nation’s spending obligations through at least the end of July, analysts say.

Against this backdrop, both parties will be gauging the public reaction to the sequester cuts set to begin on Friday. Groups on all sides of the debate plan to highlight the effects of the cuts once they are officially in place, in an effort to sway public opinion. Obama and Democrats may be evaluating the reaction with an eye on whether a significant public outcry might work to their benefit as they press to replace some cuts with revenue from sources such as levying higher taxes on millionaires, reducing farm subsidies, and closing tax loopholes for oil and gas companies.

If the sequester is met with a shrug, Republicans could use a lack of significant public anger to press Obama and Democrats for still more concessions on the spending they see as a driver of the federal debt. Whichever way it goes, the sequester is set to start soon, and the public’s reaction to the cuts will likely set the stage for what lies ahead.

***

“Now, lately, some people have been saying, well, maybe we’ll just give the President some flexibility,” Obama said today during his rally in Newport News. “He could make the cuts the way he wants and that way it won’t be as damaging. The problem is when you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months, which represents over a 10-percent cut in the defense budget in seven months, there’s no smart way to do that. There’s no smart way to do that. You don’t want to have to choose between, let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid, or the poor kid? Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one? When you’re doing things in a way that’s not smart, you can’t gloss over the pain and the impact it’s going to have on the economy.”…

What’s more remarkable, that Obama thinks a tax increase counts as a spending cut, or that he admits openly that he doesn’t want to make difficult choices about how to cut spending?

“He is a world-class bulls*** artist,” a Senate aide said in response to Obama’s speech today.

***

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Via NRO.

***

Via the Daily Rushbo.


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