The President Is Squandering His Credibility

I don’t understand why the Obama people are so great at campaigning and so lousy at governing.

They don’t recognize when they have leverage and when they don’t.

They had tremendous leverage on the fiscal cliff because aside from the payroll tax “holiday” ending, federal income taxes were going up for the middle class as well as the rich at the same spending cuts would take effect, so Obama had a great argument to make to the American people.  Even the GOP recognized it was too much austerity, too fast, and we’d go back into recession.

But the sequester?  If the fiscal cliff was an inside straight for Obama, the sequester is more like a pair of three’s.  Obama’s pulling the same scare tactics this time, but without the substance of the fiscal cliff to justify them.  They may be touting $85 billion in cuts officially, but if you work in the White House, you know it’s really only $44 billion (as you know if you read this blog).  And you know that $44 billion out of a $3.8 trillion budget isn’t even a start, let alone the end of civilization as we know it.

The truth is that most Americans won’t feel the cuts personally.  For some people they will be real and painful, but not enough to overload the phone lines at the Capitol.  Much of the pain will be felt in Northern Virginia, and the rest of the country hates Northern Virginia for surviving the Great Meltdown so comfortably because of the cushion of government spending.  So, payback’s a bitch, McLean and Arlington.

The president should have emphasized the irrationality of these particular cuts rather than imagining an enormous impact.  He should have said that he was going to do whatever he could to cut the most expendable items.  He should have supported the GOP’s effort to give him even more flexibility on the cuts.

This round goes to the GOP.

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