Streetwise Professor

February 26, 2013

Obama’s Latest, Greatest Example of Executive Stewardship

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Professor @ 4:38 pm

Obama is playing the sequester game for all it is worth, by regaling the country with horror stories of what will happen if the sequester goes into effect.  All he needs is a flashlight held under his chin while sitting by a campfire.

The prudent response to a need to cut spending due to a tightening of a budget constraint is to find the least important things, and cut those first.  But Obama isn’t interested in being prudent.  He is interested in being political.  He is using the sequester as part of his war to the knife with House Republicans, and hence is going with the Washington Monument Strategy on Steroids, and focusing cutbacks on the most visible and vital services.  For instance: furloughing TSA personnel.  I am scheduled to fly to visit my parents on the day the sequester kicks in.  Oh freaking joy.  I say furlough them all.  Forever.  But no, we’ll get all of the stupid procedures with fewer people to implement them-and no doubt they will be under orders to work to rule to make the process as inefficient and painful as possible. Another for instance: releasing illegal aliens detained in prison. I could go on. But you get the point. It’s all about making the most painful and most visible and most inconveniencing cuts, all for political advantage. The man has no shame. This is not about executive leadership or stewardship. It is about Goebbels-esque propaganda theater.

Looking at Obama’s strategy brought this classic National Lampoon cover to mind:

Or, in the Obama version: if you don’t cave on the sequester (and everything else) we’ll . . .

The ultimate mendacity, moreover, is that Obama insisted on the sequester during a budget standoff in 2011, and signed it into law. He’s daddy, but is denying paternity: indeed, he’s asserting the Republicans did the deed. Oh, for a political DNA test.

But the problem is that even if such a test existed, it wouldn’t matter. The media knows the truth, but is so in the tank for Obama that they refuse to flog him over his hypocrisy and dishonesty: hell, they (Bob Woodward excepted) even refuse to acknowledge Obama’s insistence on including the sequester in the 2011 deal. A good portion of the populace is also indifferent to Obama’s duplicity. Further evidence of the degraded condition of our Republic.

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  1. @Professor-outstanding post. Sitting around the campfire with first boys in the Girl Scouts and girls in the Boy Scouts talking about Boogeyman Boehner. In sotto voce continuing with the bad things that happen when children don’t report their parents for having guns at home or toilets not conforming with federal water use guidelines.

    It is painful to admit that the POTU is a man without conscience nor honor but there you have it. He has neither.

    Comment by pahoben — February 26, 2013 @ 9:13 pm

  2. and focusing cutbacks on the most visible and vital services

    This happens in the UK all the time. Whenever cuts are made (or even suggested) they are quite deliberately aimed at the frontline service personnel rather than the army of wasters in the back offices, for the precise reason that the hardships will be keenly felt by the electorate who will then conclude the cuts were a mistake. But then of course, the army of wasters in the back offices are the ones tasked with making the cuts, and turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

    Comment by Tim Newman — February 27, 2013 @ 1:25 am

  3. Years ago, Charlie Peters at the Washington Monthly described this type of bureaucratic budget cutting tactic as the “Fireman First Principle.” Mickey Kaus recently described it in this way: The Fireman First Principle “holds that a clever bureaucrat, faced with a budget reduction, will threaten to cut not the least essential services but the most essential (in order to provoke public outrage that results in the budget reduction getting cancelled):

    Thus, [the clever bureaucrat] always picks on teachers, policemen, firemen first. … Similarly the Army, when faced with a budget cut, never points the finger at desk-bound lieutenant colonels. The victims are invariably combat troops. This is particularly unfortunate, since in government, as in human beings, fat tends to concentrate at the middle levels, where planning analysts and deputy assistant administrators spend their days attending meetings …”

    Here is a link to Kaus’ article (with a link to the orginal Peters artcle):

    At the Pentagon, it is known as the “Gold Watch” tactic as described by Byron York here:

    Comment by Jim Overdahl — February 27, 2013 @ 9:31 am

  4. Like all libertarians I welcome but still despise the Sequester: it’s way too little too late. We should have slashed the spending on the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the corn-industrial complex and other lobby-industrial complexes long time ago, along with wars on drugs and on Iraq and Syria.

    Comment by Vlad Rutenburg — March 5, 2013 @ 1:25 am

  5. A Jewish-libertarian dream:

    Both the sequester and the civil war in Syria will continue for centuries…

    Comment by Vlad Rutenburg — March 5, 2013 @ 1:28 am

  6. @Jim Overdahl:

    Great point.

    Comment by Vlad Rutenburg — March 5, 2013 @ 1:30 am

  7. @Tim Newman: great point as well.

    Comment by Vlad Rutenburg — March 5, 2013 @ 1:31 am

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