The $85 billion in cuts due to sequestration represent a minuscule alteration to federal spending. In fact, even with sequestration, the federal government will actually increase its spending in 2013.
Yet both congressional Democrats and the White House insist that sequestration represents some immediate threat to the common good. The rhetoric employed by both sides reached new levels of absurdity on Thursday when Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) claimed that sequestration would result in 170 million lost American jobs. As radio host Michael Medved noted, there are only 143 million jobs in the United States today. Waters' statement is clearly incorrect.
Yet Rep. Waters' (mis?)statement is hardly the only example of Democratic overreaching on the sequester. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared on Face the Nation this past Sunday claiming that sequestration could result in thousands of teachers lay-offs in schools across the nation. Yet when pressed on the issue, the secretary was unable to give a precise example of such a lay-off – and the Washington Post chided him for it, saying his claim was “not backed by evidence.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), too, prophesied a flurry of pink slips due to the sequester, declaring that the “sequester equals unemployment” (never mind that she voted for the bill authorizing the sequester in the first place).
Even the president himself has adopted hyperbolic, “the sky is falling!” rhetoric as he campaigns against the sequester; he recently claimed that the sequester cuts would threaten food safety, possibly leading to more outbreaks of E. Coli due to the lack of food inspections. Not so, says the Wall Street Journal: because of the way funds are segregated, the White House has executive authority to ensure that programs such as food inspections stay funded. Bob Woodward's recent comments about the White House engaging in a “kind of madness” appear to echo this sentiment; this is, after all, an administration known for a rather broad interpretation of Executive Authority granted by the Constitution. If killing U.S. citizens without trial is permissible, why would some executive oversight over spending cuts be problematic?
Meanwhile, as Republicans offer a bill to give the Obama administration even more control over what programs get axed in a sequester, the White House opposes it and has instructed Senate Democrats to do the same. Yes, you read that correctly: the same Republicans that President Obama has routinely referred to as “obtructionists” are offering the President even more power at managing the sequester. I think it's high time to call out the White House and Democrats such as Rep. Waters on this issue. Sequester-gate is political gamesmanship, and America deserves better than to be played for fools by President Obama and other Democrats.