Sequestration priorities: pumpkin festivals or the troops?


When the possibility of overturning the sequester first came up in late 2011 – only weeks after the so-called “Super Committee” failed to come up with a “grand bargain” for deficit reduction – President Obama was very firm – there would be no sequestration replacement:

“Already some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No,” Mr. Obama said from the White House briefing room Monday evening. “I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending.”

“There will be no easy off ramps on this one,” he added.

This began to change in the summer of 2012, when the President began talking about a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction. As we all know, until the sequester hit, this was the President’s major talking point on compromise to avoid the spending reductions.

As it became clear that Republicans were (finally) not going to compromise on deficit reduction, the President’s tactics changed from class warfare and tax hikes to intimidation and apocalyptic predictions if the sequester hit. That didn’t work either, and sequestration hit with its mild fury 10 days ago.

Now, the President is jumping to a new tactic – making sequestration hurt in the public eye as much as possible while continuing wasteful spending. To him, the political advantage of harm is more important than making bad government a little better and a little more efficient.

Where are some ways the President is making sequestration hurt? One of the silliest methods was cutting White House tours for the public (as seen in the latter two links) instead of cutting out White House golf trips or the TSA’s purchase of $50 million in new uniforms. For some perspective, the tours cost about $18,000 per week, or $900,000 annually.

Even worse was news last week that the Marines and Army are eliminating their tuition assistance programs because of sequestration. Rather than cut unnecessary spending in the military outlined by Senator Coburn (R-OK) late last year, or continuous inefficient spending on weapons programs, the President (and/or his subordinates, who answer to him) is making a lie out of decades of traditions and promises by the military – that if you serve honorably, the American people will help you go to college. They will repay you for protecting them in a fashion critical to many employment opportunities. Evidently, President Obama cares little for the job prospects of military members entering the work force, as well as making the difficult duty of military service more attractive when the military is already overextended.

This is truly despicable and pathetic. Both parties play dishonest and shameful politics with taxpayer money and the lives of the troops, both of which are dishonorable – but to blatantly poke a stick into the eyes of incoming soldiers and Marines instead of looking for legitimate ways to cut the federal budget should be grounds for immediate, vociferous, and united opposition by the public.

There’s plenty of ways to cut spending, and the President has had more than enough time to find those cuts. Check out our next post, which will outline billions in replacement reductions the President could propose – such as getting rid of expensive federal protection for a pumpkin festival.