by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Peggy Noonan‘s latest Wall Street Journal column examines the president’s propensity for playing games, rather than negotiating with congressional critics.
The White House is, as always, confident of its strategy: Scare people as much as possible and let the media take care of the rest. Maybe there will be a lot to report, maybe not, but either way the sobbing child wanting to go to Head Start and the anxious FAA bureaucrat worried about airplane maintenance will be found. This will surely have power.
And in truth, the sequester’s impact may be bad. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, a 22-year House veteran and ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, this week warned of “over 170 million jobs that could be lost.” That’s actually more jobs than America has, and it’s little comfort to say, “But she’s a famous idiot,” because Washington is actually full of famous idiots who are making serious decisions about how the sequester cuts are to be applied.
If the sequester brings chaos and discomfort, it’s certainly possible the Republicans will be blamed. But it’s just as possible President Obama will be. Not because the sequester idea came from his White House—that probably doesn’t interest anybody outside Washington—but because a) he’s the president, and presidents are expected to take care of things and work out agreements, not “force the moment to its crisis,” and b) he’s the chief executive of the federal government, and therefore capable of directing agencies to make sure all cuts are in wholly nonessential offices. I was thinking the other day of the General Services Administration scandal—the red-carpet retreat in Vegas, the toasts, the shows, all paid for by taxpayers. Maybe the president could start there.