I noted with interest (and mild surprise) what Rep. David Scott (D-south Cobb) had to say in this newspaper the other day (Feb. 21) about the sequester, calling it “a human tragedy of soaring magnitude.”
“We’ve got to look at it in human terms. This will cost jobs. Our first responders, people that protect us, people that teach our children, our Armed Forces,” he sputtered.
To justify his position, Scott lapsed into the same, tired Democratic rhetoric about closing tax loopholes in order to pay for the sequester. And yes, he trotted out the predictable, well-worn talking points like “corporate jets” and “the Buffet rule,” which is not a rule at all.
Scott’s comments about the effects of the sequester are similar to the gloom and doom being preached by President Obama and his cabinet about the potential negative effects of the sequester. Brushing off questions from the media about “scare tactics,” the president said that he found it “troubling” that Congress was not working harder to stave off the cuts, given that “these cuts are not smart; they are not fair; they will hurt our economy; they will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment roll.”
Obama also declared that “If Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job creating investments in education and energy and medical research; it won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.”
In politics, memories can be very long, but for good or for ill, the attention span of the electorate is usually very short. Also, the successful politician is the one who can accept the most credit for the good things and deflect blame for the bad things. The president is doing his dead level best to deflect the blame for the sequester to the GOP.
However, what the president wants you to forget is that the sequester, this “meat-cleaver approach” with all of its dire consequences, was his idea in the first place. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted earlier in February that the sequester was proposed “by the president’s team.”
On the other hand, Rep. Scott can actually claim some of the moral high ground that the president is giving up, since Scott voted against the bill which contained the sequester when it came before the House of Representatives for a final vote in July 2011. Given Mr. Scott’s record on increases on the debt limit (he has voted to allow the increase six out of seven times since 2000), my cynical intuition tells me that since Scott’s vote was not necessary to pass the bill, he voted against it, giving him the cover that he needed to decry the negative effects of the sequester now that it is coming home to roost.
If the sequester is such a bad thing, why was it such a good idea when Obama proposed it in 2011? He should have the courage and integrity to accept the political consequences of his proposals.
Jerry Landers is an attorney in Marietta.