Why Obama signed the sequestration order

Why Obama signed the sequestration order

Washington : DC : USA | Mar 03, 2013 at 6:11 AM PST
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As is being widely reported, President Barack Obama signed an order Friday night authorizing the reduction of $85 billion from federal accounts. Friday was the self-imposed deadline (by Congress and the president) to avoid these admittedly steep, one-year cuts. For his part, the president continues to argue to anyone who will listen that he opposes such cuts.

Here is the text of the statement he made after signing the order.

Yes, Obama has offered replacing the cuts, known as a “sequester” in government budget language, with tax increases and cuts spread out over time. Republicans, of course, rejected as a non-starter any plan or program that included even the hint of tax increases.

As reported by The Chicago Sun-Times, the government says the cuts result in almost immediate furloughs to some 700,000 to 750,000 federal government employees. Both current defense contracts and domestic government programs will also be affected. Supposedly, active military personnel and specified anti-poverty and low-income assistance programs will not be touched.

But already, only one day into the “sequester,” the hurt is being felt. In Seattle, for example, the King County Housing Authority announced that it has ceased issuing housing vouchers under a federal program that benefits “elderly or disabled households, veterans, and families with children.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., fingerpointing and the blame game consume most of president’s and Congress’ time.


Am I missing something here? I have read, heard and watched reports that either congress or the president could have stopped this “sequester” with, in Congress’ case, the stroke of a pen. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced a one-sentence bill sometime ago to simply “repeal” the sequester. The president, of course, could have even more easily just kept his pen in his pocket and not signed the sequester order. What gives?

The Republicans and the Tea Party, enamored of Grover Norquist’s goal, promise and pledge to shrink government to a size suitable for “drowning in the bathtub,” have finally got what they’ve always wanted, dreamed of -- an across-the-board, no-questions-asked bludgeoning of the federal budget.

The Democrats, led by an admitted “moderate Republican” and “first black president,” have also achieved their goal. Slashing of the budget at the expense of those who can least afford any cuts whatever, while protecting their biggest campaign benefactors. (For more on Obama's view of himself and his role as "Republican-light," see, http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/13638564-obama-calls-himself-a-moderate-republican).

You will notice, I hope, that the two parties are not at all at odds with each other on this. That is why Conyers’ bill went nowhere and why the president had no trouble signing the sequestration order.

Sure, both parties claim to hate the very idea of “sequestration.” But that claim is not merely disingenuous; it is false on its face. What they hate is not sequestration, but being blamed for it. Thus, as each new cut in vital services kicks in over the next year, we, the public, will be treated to new and improved versions of the blame game.

But the cuts will continue. My 93-year-old aunt’s “Meals on Wheels” wagon will stop rolling. More working poor people will become homeless. More students will not be able to pay tuition.

But the corporate jetsetters will still be flying high.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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Herbert Dyer, Jr. is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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