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Monday, March 04, 2013

For Obama, the politics of pain for political gain, trumps protecting Americans

By Susan Duclos

We now have a president who has added over $6 trillion to our national debt in a little over four years, and is so bitter that he was forced to order $85 billion in spending cuts without being allowed to raise taxes again on upper income Americans, who are now set to see their tax bills already increased to a 30 year high,  that he has connected his credibility to his ability to make those spending cuts hurt Americans as much as possible.

Via ABC News:

Now that the sequester has gone into effect — bringing on the spending cuts Obama once guaranteed would never happen — the president is in the awkward place of rooting for it be felt as he and his administration has predicted.

At stake is the president’s credibility in the latest round of the seemingly endless budget wars, which seem poised to dominate if not subsume his second term. Even before the cuts began, the president and his top aides were caught stretching the truth of their impact a few times, feeding his critics’ argument that the nation can afford budget trims.

Conn Carroll over at Washington Examiner succinctly explains:

For perhaps the first time in the history of the United States, it is in the political interest of a president to inflict maximum pain on the American people. Obama could have spent the last 16 months preparing to mitigate sequestration’s impact on the American people, as any responsible manager would have. Instead, he has done the opposite, explicitly ordering government agencies not to prepare for the worst. And he has refused all Republican efforts to pass legislation that would minimize the sequester’s pain.

ABC News shows clearly that Obama does have a choice, depending on either doing what is best for Americans or doing what is best for the Democratic party, and the two are mutually exclusive of each other in this case.

That’s where the president’s awkward position comes in. As leader of the federal government, he of course wants to mitigate the real-world impact of budget cuts, to make sure people feel as little disruption as possible in their day-to-day lives.

But the $85 billion in cuts that are now coursing their way through the federal bureaucracy will have real impact. The fact is the president needs that to be the case, to exert the kind of political pressure on Republicans over spending cuts that hasn’t been there to date.

Bottom line, Obama can do whatever he can to limit the pain to Americans or he can harm them as much as possible, with deliberate calculation, for the possibility of helping Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in 2014, so he can jam his political agenda through Congress in his last two years in office.

Quotes from both White House economic adviser Gene Sperling and Democratic Representative Steve Israel, make it very clear that Obama has already chosen and he chose politics over the wellbeing of the American people.

Israel, via Washington Post:

"The president understands that to get anything done, he needs a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. To have a legacy in 2016, he will need a House majority in 2014, and that work has to start now."

Sperling, via ABCNews:

"My belief is that as this pain starts to gradually spread to communities affected by military spending, to children who need mental health services, to people who care about our border security, I believe that more Republican colleagues who are concerned about this harm to their constituents will choose bipartisan compromise on revenue raising tax reform with serious entitlement reform."

For Obama, the politics of pain for political gain, trumps protecting Americans.