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.