Sequestration and Honesty in American Politics

President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President John Biden and House Speaker John Boehner
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President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President John Biden and House Speaker John Boehner

BY FRANK SALVATO – Back in February of 2012 – in what seems like a political eternity ago, I dared to broach the subject of honesty in American politics. Being equally disgruntled with the establishment Republicans, as was I (and still am) with the entirety of the Left side of the aisle, I provided instance after instance about how disgusted I was (am) with our political class’ abdication of ethics in their embrace of “the narrative,” and how I viewed the various special interest groups and media – from both sides of the aisle – pathetic in their abdication of a quest for truth. With recent events surrounding a plethora of issues, but specifically the “sequester,” I feel the need to address the issue again.

When I crafted my analysis back in 2012, I wrote:


“Throughout time politicians and their handlers have been prone to omitting unpleasant facts or manipulating them so as to mold issues to their advantage. This is the concept behind ‘spin’; a form of propagandizing that crafts an ‘alternative’ interpretation of an issue, organization, person, event or campaign in order to sway the public’s opinion ‘for’ or ‘against’ said issue, organization, person, event or campaign. In fact, the ‘art of spin’ has created an entirely separate category of political animal; the ‘spin doctor,’ many of whom are regularly featured on the many mainstream media news outlets disguised as ‘political strategists.’ But somewhere along the line, the art of employing wit, reason, personality and persuasive rhetoric in order to achieve a political ends gave way to the blatant lie, and never before has it been as evident as it is today.

“This political malady is not exclusive to one side of the aisle or the other. Neither is it exclusive to the elected class. In fact, some of the most egregious abusers of truth and honesty come in the form of agendized media operatives. It is an across-the-board problem that comes with the intellectual infections that are the ‘inside-the-beltway mentality’ and the special interest mentality, both of which are shared by the elected class, the media who cover them and the special interest groups who try to sway them both.”

While the piece garnered wide publication, the general response to the issue posed was “Oh, well, that’s politics.” And with that we progressed into the disingenuous, slash-and-burn, mudslinging, win-at-all-cost Republican Primary and then a Presidential Election where the truth – especially from the Obama Campaign – was seldom displayed, if at all. Yet a majority of the voters – but by no means a majority of Americans – chose to abdicate their constitutional responsibility to protect the US Constitution from the nefarious; voting to elevate the dishonest and the disingenuous to public office. So, why are we surprised that the Obama Administration would blatantly lie to the American people on critical issues facing our nation? Why should we be shocked that they believe the American people have given them the “green light” to say and do anything regardless of whether it is honest or legal?

Before we get to the flagrant dishonesty that was the White House push to demonize – for strictly political reasons – Republicans for the total of the sequester, let’s take a look at just one example of the Obama Administration’s dishonesty from a year ago:

“…perhaps the quintessential example of governmental and political dishonesty came in the form of a statement Obama Chief of Staff Jack Lew made during a taping of CNN’s State of the Union, defending the blatant and grotesquely partisan obstructionism of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid where passing a budget is concerned:

“‘Let’s be clear, what Senator Reid is talking about is a fairly narrow point. In order for the Senate to do its annual work on appropriation bills they need to pass a certain piece of legislation which sets a limit. They did that last year. That’s what he’s talking about. He’s not saying they shouldn’t pass a budget, but we also need to be honest, you can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without sixty votes and you can’t get sixty votes without bi-partisan support. So, unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed.’

“Of course, there is one major thing wrong with that statement: it doesn’t take 60 votes to pass a budget in the US Senate.”

Today, Mr. Lew is the US Treasury Secretary. How do you really feel about that? To his credit, US Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), tried to keep a liar from this office of responsibility but for some reason some Republicans believe the President should be able to have the cabinet of his choosing. By that standard, if Mr. Obama would have wanted Bill Ayers as Secretary of Education – a man complicit in the bombing of the US Capitol Building – they would have allowed it. Stunning, I know. I was always under the impression that the idea of “advice and consent” had some literal meaning, but…

Back to the sequester…

For the last month, at least, the Obama Administration, all of its cabinet secretaries, and all of its special interest advocates, have been telling the American people, via every medium available, that absolute catastrophe would take place should the sequester be allowed to occur. In one instance, Mr. Obama back-dropped himself with Prince George, Maryland, firefighters to list those who would, “lose their jobs” and the services that would be diminished should the “unspeakable” happen. The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, said teachers would lose their jobs. And DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said thousands of border patrol agents would be furloughed or otherwise re-assigned.

There’s a lot wrong with those three assertions, these three being just three of many…

First, Mr. Obama was engaging in what is called the “firemen first” tactic, where an opportunistic politician plays on the emotions of the public about budgetary matters to force his way forward, usually to raise taxes. They trot out teachers, policemen and firemen and conjure up visions of schools without teachers, lawless street and burning buildings. All of this is absolute and complete nonsense. The overwhelming majority of taxpayer dollars that go to fund each of these services are local, then county, then state and then federal, in dramatically diminishing order. While the federal government offers grants for training, all three of these sectors can survive without federal funding.

With regard to Secretary Duncan, The Washington Post reported:

“The descriptions of the post-sequester landscape that have been coming out of the Obama Administration have been alarming, specific–and, in at least some cases, hyped.

“‘There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall,’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

“When he was pressed in a White House briefing Wednesday to come up with an example, Duncan named a single county in West Virginia and acknowledged, ‘whether it’s all sequester-related, I don’t know.’

“And, as it turns out, it isn’t.

“Officials in Kanawha County, West Virginia say that the ‘transfer notices’ sent to at least 104 educators had more to do with a separate matter that involves a change in the way West Virginia allocates federal dollars designated for poor children.

“The transfer notices are required by state law and give teachers a warning that they may be moved to a different position next school year.”


Then we have Secretary Janet Napolitano, who said Monday that the cuts would be “disruptive and destructive” to national security. She instructed Immigration Customs & Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen to issue the statement:

“In order to make the best use of our limited detention resources in the current fiscal climate and to manage our detention population under current congressionally mandated levels, ICE has directed field offices to review the detained population to ensure it is in line with available funding…As a result of this review, a number of detained aliens have been released around the country and placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release.”

When queried about this mass release, which took place in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, the White House responded that they hadn’t any involvement with that decision and weren’t notified before the decision was made…if you even want to entertain believing that the most controlling administration is US history didn’t know such an unprecedented move was under way.

Aside from all of the grotesque fear-mongering, when called on the carpet by famed Watergate journalist Bob Woodward about the Obama Administration being the author of the sequester, a “very senior” administration official threatened Mr. Woodward; threatened a reporter about exposing the truth. reports:

“Bob Woodward said Wednesday evening on CNN that a ‘very senior person’ at the White House warned him in an email that he would ‘regret doing this,’ the same day he has continued to slam President Barack Obama over the looming forced cuts known as the sequester…

“‘It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, “You’re going to regret doing something that you believe in,”’ Woodward said…

“Last weekend, Woodward called out Obama for what he said was ‘moving the goal posts’ on the sequester by requesting that revenue be part of a deal to avert it.”

As they say in Chicago, “It takes big rocks” to go after one of the guys who brought down a sitting President in Richard Nixon. But then, it appears, the Obama Administration isn’t afraid of anything, which, in politics, is very dangerous.

The overarching truths of the entire sequester is that because of how the federal government budgets – baseline budgeting – all of these “devastating” cuts are cuts to future spending.  Additionally, all of these “catastrophic” cuts amount to a little over two percent of the federal budget…two percent!

Each and every politician – the honest and the disingenuous, alike – campaign talking about how much wasteful spending there is in Washington and how the federal government is a very poor steward of the taxpayers’ dollars. Now, the Obama Administration is telling us the government will collapse, the Navy’s ships will sink and the world will stop turning if the sequester is allowed to proceed.

The sequester amounts to a little over two percent of the federal budget. Think about it.

Oh, and as of this writing, Senate Republicans want to give the President discretional latitude in how to make those cuts. The Obama White House was issued a threat to veto that move. Interesting that Mr. Obama wouldn’t want the authority to make sure “teachers, policemen and firemen” aren’t furloughed; the citizenry put at risk.

Are you tired of being lied to yet?