Tonight President Obama will announce that his budget will break his sequester’s caps with tax hikes and new spending. It’s just the administration’s latest attempt to move the goal posts on the automatic cuts the president proposed in 2011, and avoid dealing with our government’s spending problem in a serious way. Here are a few key points to remember:
- The sequester was President Obama’s idea.
As has been well-documented by Bob Woodward’s book The Price of Politics, the White House first proposed the ‘sequester’ – a plan they devised because the president didn’t want to deal with another debt limit debate before his re-election campaign in 2012.
- Replacing the sequester with tax hikes is not the deal President Obama made.
“In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection. So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts.” (Bob Woodward, Washington Post)
- Republicans have twice passed legislation to replace the president’s sequester with common-sense cuts and reforms. The Democrat-controlled Senate never responded with a plan of its own, and the president chose not to work with Republicans at the time.
The House passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act (HR. 5652) in May 2012. The bill replaces the president’s sequester with common-sense reforms that would reduce spending, and preserve and strengthen our safety net for future generations.
The House also passed the Spending Reduction Act (H.R. 6684) in December 2012. Just like H.R. 5652, this bill doesn’t raise taxes on families – it has common-sense reforms that stop waste, fraud, and abuse in government programs, eliminate slush funds, and more.
- Democrats often howled in protest when Republicans proposed to spend less than the caps.
“Democrats have maintained that Republicans are reneging on the budget agreement by announcing that they will cut total spending on the bills to fund government agencies by $19 billion. ‘Until the House of Representatives indicates that it will abide by last summer’s agreement, the president will not be able to sign any appropriations bills,’ [Acting White House Budget Office Director Jeffrey Zients said.] (Bloomberg)
"’The Budget Control Act was a compromise that forced both Democrats and Republicans to accept things they didn't like - this is the very nature of compromise,’ said Representative Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee who helped negotiate the budget deal last summer. ‘If House Republicans turn around and violate our agreement, it makes the process much more difficult,’ he said.”(Huffington Post)
"I'm really disappointed that they're considering a budget - violating the budget agreement that is now the law of this country.” [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.] (Reuters)
Republicans believe there are smarter ways to cut spending than the sequester and have passed legislation to replace it multiple times, only to see the president continue to demand tax hikes. Until he gets serious about solving our long-term spending problem it’s hard to take him seriously.