Open thread: Obama presser at 10:15 10:30

What might be the topic that actually prompted Barack Obama to make a rare appearance at an open presser?  Perhaps he wants to try his stand-up routine from the White House Correspondents Dinner on the daytime TV crowd.  More likely, Obama wants to push his budget priorities and push back against the sequester — the same as when he last held an open presser, on March 1st:

Part of this sudden desire to talk has to be the sudden criticism from fellow Democrats that Obama once again gave away his leverage on the sequester, this time with his signature on the FAA funding fix:

Democrats are frustrated that the White House still seems to think Republicans are going to come to the table and reverse the sequester. But from the 2011 supercommittee to refusing to go over the fiscal cliff on New Year’s Eve 2012 to last week’s air-traffic-control furlough fix, the administration has caved on every pressure point it designed.

Instead of taking a political risk and keeping pressure on Republicans, White House officials are banking that a series of dinners with GOP senators will foster enough good will to produce legislation.

“The easier, smarter way to do it is to eliminate the sequester and replace it with good policy, balanced, fair, sensible policy, including smart cuts, including smart entitlement reforms, including tax reform that generates revenue that can be applied to deficit reduction,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday in response to a question about the FAA bill, which will allow the agency to move more than $250 million in funds to prevent the air-traffic-controller furloughs that resulted in flight delays across the country.

Of course, Carney has been saying pretty much the same thing in most of his news briefings since November.

Expect Obama to say it himself today too, but don’t expect it to have much more impact.  As Glenn Reynolds writes in USA Today, Democrats lost the sequester fight and have made themselves the Chicken Littles of budget discipline:

The whole sequestration gambit has failed, to the point where even the Washington Post’s Ezra Kleinadmits that “the Democrats have lost on sequestration.” The idea was that even the comparatively minor cuts in spending caused by the sequester would be so painful that voters would demand higher taxes rather than endure cuts in spending.

Problem was, when the spending cuts came, nobody noticed. This led the Obama administration to try to up the pain by focusing cuts in places where people might feel the pain: canceling White House tours for schoolchildren, or furloughing air traffic controllers.

That didn’t work either. The tour-canceling just looked mean, and the problem with targeting air travel is that members of Congress, and their top donors, fly a lot. Huge bipartisan majorities in Congress thus quickly passed legislation forcing the FAA to make cuts elsewhere instead.

The whole thing was a bust, and has me thinking that someone in Congress — or, if he’s smart, President Obama — ought to propose more across-the-board cuts as a means of addressing our swollen deficit and national debt. Critics of across-the-board cuts always say that we should make “smart cuts” instead of using a “meat axe.” But the reason why we have a ballooning national debt is that our politicians are clearly incapable of making “smart cuts.”

Hell, they’re usually incapable of any cuts at all.  We can’t even get them to stick to reductions in the rate of spending increases, let alone real spending reductions.

Obama will probably want to stick to budgets and slamming Congress over its general meany-ness in not embracing the spendiest budget in history.  Perhaps the press might take the opportunity to ask about a couple of other topics.  If so, the Boss Emeritus has a few suggestions:

Update: It’s been pushed back to 10:30, according to ABC News.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on March 27, 2023