Obama’s definition of “governing” means doing what he says


Continuing this charade of blaming Republicans for the sequester, President Barack Obama told the National Governors Association that Washington “has to do some governing” if it hopes to avoid the sequester on March 1st:

“There are always going to be some areas where we have genuine disagreement … but there are more areas where we can do a lot more cooperating than we have seen in the past couple years,” Obama told a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House.

“At some point, we’ve got to do some governing. And, certainly, we can’t keep careening from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.”

Turning to sequestration, Obama turned his appeal to Republicans, who the administration wants to see agree to revenue-raising measures.

“These cuts do not have to happen,” he said. “Congress can turn them off anytime with just a little bit of compromise.”

As we’ve explained before, the sequester — $85 billion in spending cuts set to take effect at the beginning of the month — doesn’t really represent deep spending cuts. In fact, the sequester doesn’t actually cut real spending at all. It merely cuts the rate of growth in the budget over the next 10 years. We’re still poised to have over $9.4 trillion in budget deficits in that same timeframe.

But “governing” is an interesting term to use to describe the current situation. Why? Because the sequester was a compromise. House Republicans didn’t want to increase the debt ceiling in 2011 without spending cuts. The White House proposed the sequester, as Bob Woodward recently reiterated, as a path forward in the process to get the debt ceiling hike.

President Obama was so hard in his support of the sequester that he told reporters that he would “veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending.” Of course, the line from the White House is that they wanted to make the spending cuts so distasteful that Washington would have to avoid it.

This is apparently an example of “governing.”

Now, the spending cuts that make up the sequester are necessary. They have to happen and they aren’t going to devastate to the economy. Yesterday, Nick Gillespie asked some tough questions to those who fear the sequester, in terms of the size of the cuts relative to the size of the bloated budget and the economy.

But Gillespie’s last question is the one that ultimately needs to be answered by the White House, though we should have no illusions that we’ll get an answer.

“When will conditions be right to actually cut spending?” Gillespie asked, noting that President Obama pays lip service to cutting government spending. “But like St. Augustine in his partying period, they don’t want to get straight just yet,” Gillespie notes. “So when might that be? If we can’t afford to cut a tiny fraction of current spending now - after a year-plus of knowing this was coming and a major punting on the original deadline - when might we?”

The fact of the matter is that President Obama doesn’t want to cut spending. We’ve gone from one crisis to the next over the past few years. It’s true that spending has been restrained, not cut, and that is because of one thing — gridlock in government. But actual spending cuts and reforms are so far off that we’re going to be tetering on an actual crisis because our fiscal situation will be so bad that investors won’t lend to us. A

Nearly every single one of the fiscal problems are country faces right now have come because of “governing.” And this “governing” that President Obama wants from Republicans is for them to fall in line with whatever he wants — and that agenda doesn’t take us closer to being a prosperous nation, that much has been clear after the last four years.

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