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Obama Can Choose Where Sequester Cuts Fall

by Keith Koffler on February 27, 2013, 11:38 am

President Obama has far more latitude than he is letting on to choose the cuts he wants if the sequester kicks in, and he can avoid many of the cataclysmic results that he has been warning about over the past week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The reason is that the White House is misidentifying the program level at which the cuts must be enacted. Obama and his advisers actually have more room within various agencies to choose between programs than they say they do.

From the Journal:

According to Mr. Obama and his budget office, the sequester cuts are indiscriminate and spell out specific percentages that will be subtracted from federal “projects, programs and activities,” or PPAs.

Except for the exemptions in the 2011 budget deal, the White House says it must now cut across the board regardless of how important a given PPA is. Food inspectors, say, will be treated the same as subsidies for millionaire farmers.

Not so fast. Programs, projects and activities are a technical category of the federal budget, but the sequester actually occurs at the roughly 1,200 broader units known as budget accounts. Some accounts are small, but others contain hundreds of PPAs and the larger accounts run to billions of dollars.

What’s more, Republicans are prepared to give Obama more authority to make good choices.

Meanwhile, Obama’s political arm, Organizing for Action, waded into the fray today with an email from former Obama campaign operative Stephanie Cutter urging the millions on the OFA email list to “keep the pressure on congressional Republicans to do the right thing.”

Cutter said the sequester would result in 10,000 teacher being laid off, 70,000 kids being “kicked out of” Head Start, veterans thrown on the street, hungry seniors, and so forth.

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Martha Trowbridge February 27, 2013 at 11:45 am

Out of the mouth of a ruthless, unconscionable political operatives:
“Do the right thing.”

Remember her ‘righteous’ denials of Obama 2012′s ongoing, vicious, character assassination against Romney?

The pretty face – like Obama’s used to be.

Just2old February 27, 2013 at 11:49 am

Fear mongering at it’s worse. 1) the sequester came from the WH and 2) obama has the authority to soften the blow. They will make this as tough on as many as they can to arm themselves with anti-Republican ammo. As Susan said yesterday; “the Republicans need to grow a backbone”.

Guillermo Grande February 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Agree. It doesn’t change with this crew…they constantly put out a new topic to keep the fear going. I keep thinking they have overplayed thier hand only to see all the other players fold. The consternation continues.

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 11:53 am

Never thought I’d see a female reincarnation of Joseph Goebbels, but there he is in the bod of Stephanie Cutter.

Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Obama’s pretty much got a waxworks group of the whole Reich.

Playrighter February 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Was she lying then, or is she lying now? Or both?

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 11:59 am

People often compare the United States with ancient Rome, and we’re all familiar with the words “bread a circuses”. Here’s the full quotation which I found in Mona Charen’s column this morning:

The people who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil offices, legions–everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 11:59 am

bread and circuses

Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Will we get bread? Frau Obama my not allow bread for we the fat folks.

RickW February 27, 2013 at 12:59 pm

No bread, Lizzy…..Just cake

Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Wow cake for fatties! Bet were gonna have to ‘move’. That would
explain the cake riots good cardio:-)

RickW February 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm

(Inside FLOTUS chambers) “Send me this Lizzy person!”


Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Wow do I get to meet her? I’ve got lots to chat about lots
and I’m fearless and I’ve got sleeves and no bangs.

cincycinco February 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm

No Hostess cakes, though…

Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm

No Twinkies? This is serious.

Otis Driftwood February 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm

MO is a Ding Dongs kinda person

Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Or a HO HO of all varieties. Yes I hear the black helicopters.

ImNoDhimmi February 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm

We are all gladiators now.

Shofar February 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I was watching Carney’s press briefing, and he said towards the end of the briefing that Congress can pass legislation to extend the deadline for sequester, and allow more time to look at ways to keep things from getting so dramatic and out of hand. This way cooler heads may prevail. At least I think I got that right.

If this is true, then what the heck have these people been doing since the entire sequester legislation was passed two years ago? I cannot believe that it takes two years for a group of grown men and women to come to terms with how to put a budget together. Even in the most dysfunctional families, they are able to sit down at a table and hash through problems.

These people are getting to be more than a joke.

owen_kellogg February 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm

More time? These cuts were supposed to happen back in August 2011! This was the trade-off for raising the debt ceiling by $2,5 trillion. Eighteen months later, the debt ceiling has been raised again, yet we still have yet to get our paultry $80 billion in what is nothing more than budget-increase reductions.

At the end of the year, even with these cuts, we will have spent more this fiscal year than the previous one. These people need to stop lying.

Darkangel February 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Telling American politicians to stop lying would be like telling them to stop breathing. They can’t do either one without doing the other.

Regina February 27, 2013 at 12:10 pm

we need to all go on welfare… we are paying for it and they are not going to make cuts there or make them do anything for the money. then we can buy food, house, gas, phone, heathcare and preschool. i am sure i left some other wonderful free things out.

Regina February 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm

health care

The Business February 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm

this seems like a good idea……is it?

William February 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm

She left out the part about the waters turning to blood and the death of the first born.

Janice/Granny Jan February 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Don’t miss this amusing video on the sequester from the house Republicans:

Traveling To Anywhere But There

Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Does the Sequester cover Michelle’s Oscar frock and $10k earrings?

ImNoDhimmi February 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Or her food?

Lizzy February 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm

You mean the healthy stuff from the magic Whole Foods Garden? I was unaware Wagu/Kobe beef and Lobster grew in the garden. Bet she’s got a a bumper crop of Grey Goose to keep the chill off her bare arms.

Jojo February 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Read a great opinion piece yesterday, how this is a Win/Win for Obama. If he pushes Republicans to do what he wants he gets to keep his spending. If he doesn’t, he gets to blame them. And all the media lapdogs keep spewing out the kool-aid! If we can’t cut 2.3% of the projected budget, when he just got larger increases in taxes than this spending, there is a problem. And it ain’t a revenue problem.
As said previously, they have had two years to come up with a plan, what the hell difference is a few more months going to make? Oh, that’s right, longer to play the Blame Game!!! Stupid people in this country who buy into this crap hook, line and sinker. Beyond amazed at it.
Bread and Circuses…. that is what our nation has become.

Darkangel February 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm

In America’s case, it’s Big Macs and football games.

Kimbly February 27, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Someone on CNN said “The Republican Congress” today (not “the republican house”, not the “republicans IN congress”). With the media outright LYING now, who do you think will get blamed?

Jojo February 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm

If you say something long enough and people hear it enough it becomes true…

cincycinco February 27, 2013 at 2:24 pm

“The reason is that the White House is misidentifying the program level at which the cuts must be enacted. Obama and his advisers actually have more room within various agencies to choose between programs than they say they do.” – Keith Koffler

While I firmly believe that Obama is in no wise opposed to a Statue of Liberty play (don’t be reasonable if you don’t get all the money you want – close the Statue of Liberty so people notice and complain) in which he can blame Republicans, I think this may also be a result of who and what Obama is – and is not.

What he IS, at core, is a community organizer. Nothing more. He’s good at whipping up the masses, marching folks to The Great Cause, etc.. He’s also good at following his own ideological bent, whatever the consequences, and believing his own lies.

What he is NOT is a businessman, or anyone with real administrative experience. He got a high dollar education without paying for it himself. He entered the Illinois legislature as the handpicked favorite of Bill Ayers. He was handed the Senate, mostly by disqualifying his opposition. He was annoited to the Presidency by forces greater than himself. He’s demonstrated a complete misunderstanding of normal economic matters. He never wrote a budget that wasn’t laughable. He never administered an organization or personnel, he’s always had someone to do that for him. Such things bore him, he’d rather be shooting hoops or playing golf.

The point is, he may actually be that dumb. He may not have an understanding of how to shuffle budgets and allocate priorities, because he’s never had to concern himself with such things. There’s always been a Rezko, a Soros, or a China to give him some love and allow him to ignore reality. Telling him he can’t have any more money – or even, as is the case here, he can’t have AS MUCH more money as he wants, is something he’s NEVER heard before, and he doesn’t much like it. It’s like telling Jay-Z he can’t use the “n” word in a song, or limiting Bill Clinton to one woman – it’s just totally incomprehensible to them, and therefore completely impossible.

Here’s the best analysis of Obama’s reaction, and it’s not even about him. It’s about the liberal “ME” generation in general;

β€œAt the core of liberalism is the spoiled child β€” miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.”
― P.J. O’Rourke

Kinda sums it up, I think…

Susan February 27, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Spot on, cincycinco. My only disagreement with your assessment is that he is dumb. In my opinion he isn’t dumb, he’s shrewd and calculating. He’s an egomaniacal confidence man who has become very skilled in the art of grifting.

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I agree with both of you if that’s possible. Like Bill Clinton, and also Hillary Clinton, Obama is very savvy about politics, political geniuses maybe. But they’re like idiots savant in many respects: they aren’t really educated people who know much about, say, economics or the Constitution or even how to work automatic coffee makers. So there’s really only a tiny part of their brains at work, but in 21st century America that’s all that it takes.

Otis Driftwood February 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm

BO could start the cuts in his on branch – cut the FLOTUS budget.. WH entertainment budget.. Vacation budget.. Dog handler budget.

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

She doesn’t a full time coiffeur, make-up artist, trainer/masseuse. Who paid for that $9K dress and $10K earrings she wore to the governors’ dinner and Academy Awards? If they were donations, aren’t there limitations in place?

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Doesn’t need–I’m on a roll with mistakes today.

srdem65 February 27, 2013 at 5:06 pm

“..madness I haven’t seen in a long time..” so said Bob Woodward about MrObama’s refusal to deploy a naval ship because of the upcoming sequester. That’s not a word usually used in referring to the actions of a sitting President, and certainly not from a wordsmith such as MrWoodward who must choose his words carefully.

Of all the adjectives ( or even epithets) commonly used to explain the actions or inactions of MrObama, this word,” madness”, is the one that must sting the most.
The definition of “mad”:
:disordered in mind : insane
completely unrestrained by reason and judgment
incapable of being explained or accounted for
carried away by intense anger : furious >

There must be a back story that led someone as careful as MrWoodward to use such a devastating assessment of MrObama.

Star February 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm

This is getting a little like the Caine Mutiny–you can almost hear those steel balls clicking in his hand.

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Captain Queeg! What a great metaphor.

Julie Brueckheimer February 27, 2013 at 7:05 pm

However, my former Marine husband says to remind you that Obama never served in the military.

Otis Driftwood February 27, 2013 at 8:10 pm

but he slept in a Holiday Inn Express once…

Just2old February 28, 2013 at 7:44 am

I think Mr. Woodward got PO’d when he was threatned by a Sr. offical at the WH. Paybacks are Hell and I think they PO’d the wrong guy. Nixon and Capt Queeg had a lot in common.