The White House is trying to shirk responsibility for the sequester it designed by claiming nobody ever thought Republicans would be crazy enough to allow it, and yet at the time of its creation in 2011 it was clear the administration believed the sweeping cuts, while designed to force action by Congress, were a real possibility.
The president and his aides are currently portraying on a daily basis the apocalyptic consequences of allowing the sequester to take place, describing mass layoffs, excruciating flight delays, illegal immigrants pouring over the border, and threats to national security.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney last week suggested the sequester was never really thought to be a possibility.
We don’t want it. It was designed to be bad policy. That was the whole point. The sequester was written in a way that would assure that Congress would never let it happen.
But in the summer 2011, the White House was not so “assured” that it would never happen, and it designed the sequester so that if it occurred it wouldn’t slash certain Obama priorities.
On July 29, 2011, as the negotiations reached their endgame, Obama suggested he would only agree to a sequester that he could live with should it come to pass:
And if we need to put in place some kind of enforcement mechanism to hold us all accountable for making these reforms, I’ll support that too if it’s done in a smart and balanced way.
In announcing on July 31 that a deal had been reached, the president described the “tough cuts” that both Democrats and Republicans would find “objectionable,” not the end-of-the-world scenario being put forward today by the White House.
The White House also went to great lengths in 2011 to assure Americans that entitlement programs would not be touched, a clear sign it believed the sequester was not such a far-out possibility.
A fact sheet released by the White House in the wake of the sequester agreement said the deal . . .
Deploys an enforcement mechanism that gives all sides an incentive to reach bipartisan compromise on historic deficit reduction, while protecting Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries and low-income programs.
It’s worth remembering also that the deal that included the sequester was designed to get rid of something the White House viewed as truly unstomachable – a potential default on U.S. debt – and replace it with an incentive for compromise that was tough but not ruinous.