Boehner, WSJ Lash Out at Obama over Sequester

Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013 11:53 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Image: Boehner, WSJ Lash Out at Obama over Sequester
House Speaker John Boehner, on Wednesday blasted President Barack Obama for the $1.2 trillion looming spending cuts, saying the sequester due to begin next week are “a product of the president’s own failed leadership.”

Unless the president and Congressional l Republicans reach a compromise budget deal, the sequester will slash defense and domestic spending.

At a White House event on Tuesday, Obama, surrounded by firefighters and other first responders, blamed the GOP lawmakers for the impending loss of jobs for emergency workers and others.

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But in a scathing Wall Street Journal op-ed, Boehner pointed the finger firmly at the president as being responsible for getting the country “in this mess.”

“During the summer of 2011, as Washington worked toward a plan to reduce the deficit to allow for an increase in the federal debt limit, President Obama and I very nearly came to a historic agreement,” writes Boehner. “Unfortunately, our deal fell apart at the last minute when the president demanded an extra $400 billion in new tax revenue —50% more than we had shaken hands on just days before. “

Boehner says that despite the “disappointing decision” by the president, the speaker immediately got together with Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to forge a bipartisan plan calling for immediate caps on discretionary spending and the creation of a special “super committee” to find an additional $1.2 trillion in savings.

“The deal also included a simple but powerful mechanism to ensure that the committee met its deficit-reduction target. If it didn’t, the debt limit would not be increased again in a few months,” he adds.

“But President Obama was determined not to face another debt-limit increase before his re-election campaign. Having just blow up one deal, the president scuttled this bipartisan, bicameral agreement. His solution? A sequester.”

The sequester was initially proposed as a deal so bad that Republicans and Democrats would have to come up with something better. But as deadlines have passed, neither side has provided an alternative that is acceptable to the other.

Boehner says that with a deadline looming, both parties in Congress “reluctantly accept the president’s demand for the sequester” and a revised version of the bipartisan plan.

The speaker says there is nothing wrong with cutting the budget by the $1.2 trillion the sequester mandates, but maintains the method is “an ugly and dangerous way to do it,” by a law focusing “on the narrow portion of the budget that funds the operating accounts for federal agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense.”

What Congress should do, he argues, “is replace it with other spending cuts that put America on the path to a balanced budget in 10years, without threatening national security.”

Boehner also rules out further tax increases, saying “the American people don’t support trading cuts for higher taxes. They understand that the tax debate is now closed.”

“So, as the president’s outrage about the sequester grows in coming days,” concludes Boehner, “Republicans have a simple response: Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy. What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?”

The Wall Street Journal itself also weighed in in a separate editorial, referring to the White House event that Obama hosted on Tuesday,saying in a blistering editorial that “Americans can expect more such melodrama in the coming days.

In what the paper called “a public service” it broke down what it described as the president’s three biggest political tricks.

The first is what it calls the Washington Monument ploy designed “to stir public support for all government spending by shutting down vital services first. “

“Voters should scoff at the idea that at $3.6 trillion government can’t save one nickel of every dollar that agencies spend. The $85 billion in savings is a mere 2.3% of total spending,” it continues.

“Americans need to understand that Mr. Obama is threatening that if he doesn’t get what he wants, he’s ready to inflict maximum pain on everybody else. He won’t demand that agencies cut the lowest priority spending as any half-competent middle manager would. “

As for what the newspaper calls the recession scare, it says that historically — after World War II as well as in the 1980s and in the 1990s —when federal spending fell there was a rapid growth in private output and wealth.

By contrast, it says, “Mr. Obama has taken government spending from 21% to 24% of GDP, yet we’ve had the weakest economic recovery in three generations.”

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Finally, the Journal denounces a tax increase “disguised as tax reform.” For 30 years, it says, “bipartisan tax reform has meant lowering tax rates in return for closing loopholes. But having already raised rates, Mr. Obama now wants fewer loopholes for those he dislikes while keeping the higher rates. “

“This is nothing but a grab for more revenue so he and Democrats can keep spending,” it says.

“If Mr. Obama really wants to eliminate the sequester, Republicans are ready to negotiate,” maintains the paper. “But if he won’t drop his tax increase and negotiate in good faith, as he hasn’t during his Presidency, then the sequester is the only way that any spending is going to be cut. The economy will be better for it.”

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