In less than three weeks Congress gets its wake up call. Campaigns will be over. For better or worse, voters will have made their decision. We will be two months away from taking a nosedive over Washington’s painstakingly constructed fiscal cliff. Efforts to halt the sequester will roll back the clock to 2011, when lawmakers failed to come to grips with deficit reduction and perpetrated a hoax on the American people with their Budget Control Act (see: Congress Hatches a Government Scam With Its Fiscal Cliff), a bipartisan boondoggle both parties credited with pointing the nation down the path to fiscal responsibility.
White House was jubilant over fiscal responsibility mandate.
Were Democrats so intent on forcing a tax hike in the name of shared responsibility that they forgot what the Budget Control Act was designed to do? Proclaiming “a victory for bipartisan compromise, for the economy and for the American people.”1 the White House praised the bill because it:
Removes the cloud of uncertainty over our economy at this critical time …2
Establishes a bipartisan process to seek a balanced approach to larger deficit reduction through entitlement and tax reform;3
Best of all, the Budget Control Act had an:
Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties – Republican and Democrat – to agree to balanced deficit reduction.4
Countdown to a sequester sellout.
Way back in 2011 Harry Reid was optimistic. Sequestration was still far away and Congress was focused on wiping the national credit downgrade from our memories:
This lengthy debate left Americans across the country wondering whether Congress would get the job done, or send our economy off a cliff. But in the end, both sides came together. Neither side got everything it wanted, but our nation got a bipartisan compromise that averts an economic catastrophe, and puts us on a path toward fiscal stability.5
Reid insisted that he would be against halting the sequester in the absence of a “balanced plan,” Democratic lingo for a tax hike:
The sequester was designed to be painful, and it is. But that is the commitment to fiscal responsibility that both parties made to the American people. In the absence of a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by at least as much, I will oppose any efforts to change or roll back the sequester.6
Despite a House Republican vote of 174 ayes, nearly double the 95 votes from Democrats, John Boehner sounded less than optimistic when the Budget Control Act was passed:
This bill is far from perfect, but it’s a positive step forward that denies President [Obama] the $2.4 trillion blank check that lets him continue his spending binge through the next election.7
Now both parties are in retreat and the sequester sellout is going full bore. Will Democrats accept a little shared responsibility, or will amnesia rule the day over this historic bit of bipartisanship?
White House response to H.R. 6365 proves nothing has changed.
The president’s reaction to H.R. 6365, the National Security and Job Protection Act, confirmed that fiscal responsibility is little more than a cruel slogan to manipulate voters into endorsing social spending. Among other things, H.R. 6365 protects defense spending and puts the president on the spot for the sort of bipartisan deficit reduction plan he likes to talk about. The White House statement in opposition spouts the same party line that keeps digging the federal deficit hole deeper:
Similar to the House Budget Resolution, this reduction would lead to destructive cuts in investments critical to the Nation’s economic future, ranging from education to research and development to infrastructure.8
Fiscal responsibility, shared sacrifice, and the sequester are lies and hoaxes.
The refusal of our executive and legislative branches to come together is the result of a shocking lack of experience in the White House and the divisiveness it spawned as we tried to come to terms with a recession, debt, and deficit spending. Americans heard perfunctory assurances that the Budget Control Act would put us back on track, but anyone paying attention knew what was coming.
Members of Congress and the president are content to eat at our table while they lie to our faces and betray our trust. Their backs are against the wall because they can’t agree to repair the damage they have done or even halt the deficit spiral (see: Federal Debt Crisis, Sequestration Will Turn Ugly in November). In lieu of a turnover in Congress or the White House the only option left to our legislature is to stop sequestration with a bill that further postpones a decision on spending cuts. No matter what Harry Reid says sequestration was never an option. Despite the pain and economic fallout that allowing this stab at fiscal responsibility might bring us, at least if Congress stayed the course and let the sequester happen we would know lawmakers are capable of keeping their word.