Playing the Sequester Game

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 is 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.

About Craig Pirrong 230 Articles

Affiliation: University of Houston

Dr Pirrong is Professor of Finance, and Energy Markets Director for the Global Energy Management Institute at the Bauer College of Business of the University of Houston. He was previously Watson Family Professor of Commodity and Financial Risk Management at Oklahoma State University, and a faculty member at the University of Michigan, the University of Chicago, and Washington University.

Professor Pirrong's research focuses on the organization of financial exchanges, derivatives clearing, competition between exchanges, commodity markets, derivatives market manipulation, the relation between market fundamentals and commodity price dynamics, and the implications of this relation for the pricing of commodity derivatives. He has published 30 articles in professional publications, is the author of three books, and has consulted widely, primarily on commodity and market manipulation-related issues.

He holds a Ph.D. in business economics from the University of Chicago.

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