He’s been busy with more important stuff. He’ll get to it when he gets to it, even though (a) he signed a bill just last month setting today as the deadline, and (b) the whole idea of a defense sequester came from Democrats as a poison pill for the GOP in last year’s debt-ceiling deal.
One month ago, the president signed the “Sequestration Transparency Act,” a law that imposed upon him a 30 day deadline to outline what Pentagon spending will be cut. That deadline was last night.
White House press secretary Jay Carney today said White House officials would hand in their assignment next week.
In a statement, Sen. John Thune, R-SD, author of the bill said that “Americans of all stripes are required to play by the rules and follow the laws of the land. Unfortunately, by disregarding the sequestration reporting deadline, the Obama Administration seems to think it is above the law. The American people deserve to know the president’s plan for implementing these cuts, some of which our military leaders have said will compromise our nation’s ability to protect itself. Every day that the administration delays being transparent with the American people on the sequester moves us one day closer to going over the fiscal cliff.”
The obligatory shot from the nominee:
The President is required by law to tell the people how he would implement defense cuts, but chooses to ignore the deadline for doing so.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 7, 2012
Not the first time that OMB has missed a budget deadline this year. The House GOP, incidentally, passed a bill in May that would replace the defense cuts in the sequester with cuts to food stamps, Medicaid, and other “social safety net” programs. The White House has offered its own replacement package (there’s no way O’s going to let Romney outflank him on defense, especially with Panetta on record as saying that the defense cuts would be disastrous), but they want tax hikes as part of it, of course, and the House won’t go for that. That sets us up for a stretch run of fingerpointing to election day, with both sides accusing the other of not giving the troops what they need, and then a deal struck sometime during the lame-duck session to avert the cuts.
The messaging opportunities here are arguably better for O than they are for Romney: On the one hand, he can accuse House Republicans of “holding the military hostage” or whatever in order to prevent tax increases, and on the other, he can point to the fact that Romney’s said he’ll increase military spending as president as proof that Mitt’s not as serious about budget-slashing as he claims to be. Mitt, of course, will helpfully remind America that it was O and his party that wanted defense in the sequestration package to begin with, and that if the cuts end up going through, they own it lock, stock, and barrel. For your viewing pleasure, here’s Paul Ryan pre-nomination in July demanding a little transparency, please. One more week, Paul! Hopefully.