Politics as Usual: The Sequester and the President’s Political Position
Currently, the big issue in government right now is the sequester and whether or not it will take place. The sequester is large scale government cuts on everything from military spending to spending on education. It is scheduled to go into effect on March 1. These cuts are going to take place because the members of Congress have not been willing to approve the president’s budget proposals or agree on a budget of their own. Over the past couple of weeks the president had tried to make it clear to Congress and the American public that if these cuts take place it will seriously harm the economy. The sequester will cause the loss of thousands of jobs and is likely to plunge our economy back into recession. The secretary of defense has been making statements saying that the sequester will seriously damage our military capabilities. Needless to say, the sequester is not something that will make anyone in government look good. Therefore, the game among political pundits is to try to predict whether it will be the President or Congress that will take the majority of the blame when people begin to suffer.
In the Washington Post EJ Dionne wrote that although the Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue, they could win the blame game by simply not negotiating a deal to avoid the sequester and letting it take effect. He asserts that once the sequester takes effect, it will be evidence to the President’s supporters that although they were successful in re-electing him they were still unable to change the power dynamics in Washington. He says that the President’s supporters will be “demoralized by the failure of their votes to change anything.”
There has been a lot of speculation that EJ Dionne’s comments reflect the thinking of the Republican Party in this affair and for that reason no deal will be struck. In fact, it is the thinking of some members of the Democratic Party that the Republicans could be correct in their strategy and that the President will become a political loser even though he the majority of the public supports his position that efforts to balance the budget should consist of cuts in spending and tax reform.
I believe that the Republicans and those Democrats who think that the president will emerge a loser on this issue are wrong. If the sequester does take effect (and at this point most of the news is reporting that it will.) I believe the American public has been paying sufficient attention to the issue that they know who will be at fault for ensuing chaos. In the four plus years now that President Obama has been in office, Republicans have opposed him on almost every issue on his agenda. The sequester was an idea that came about precisely because Republican Party chose a course wherein they would not negotiate on any of their positions, but would campaign on their platform in hopes of unseating the President. They failed in that endeavor. Not only did they fail in that endeavor, but they did it while predicting victory the entire time. I believe on the issue of the sequester they are just as wrong as they were on the election. The electorate spoke in re-electing the President and although public opinion is fickle, I believe the public is with him. The public understands that the Republican Party is obstructing any movement despite what they might say. I think the Republican Party should be very wary about testing its luck in this matter. They believe that their majority in the House of Representatives is safe because they are protected by gerrymandered seats. They may find that the more moderate branches of their party are tired of the brinksmanship and ready to vote for some people who will go to Washington and do more than just bring the government to a screeching halt.