Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Administration: we're gonna make this hurt, even if it doesn't have to.

The Washington Times has uncovered something that may turn into one massive headache for the Obama Administration. Apparently, an official in the Raleigh offices of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)--an agency in the USDA that monitors plant an animal health in the U.S., particularly with regard to invasive species--sent off a simple e-mail to someone higher up the food chain, someone in DC, asking about sequester cuts. Specifically, this official asked "if there was any latitude" in how the cuts for APHIS would be applied. Apparently, the official was worried about the effect of cuts on fish inspections. He received this response to his rather reasonable query:
We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that ‘APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.’ So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.
The Washington Times has not named the official or the office who sent the above reply, presumably because it is awaiting a response in that regard. But the message to the APHIS official in Raleigh is crystal clear: the "aquaculture industry" needs to suffer, the cuts need to have a serious impact there because that is what we [the Administration] said would happen. There's really no other way to take this message. It's clearly coming from the Administration and it's clearly saying that whatever flexibility exists, with regard to sequester cuts, it cannot be allowed to contradict any public claims made by the Administration.

In short, the Administration will not allow itself to look foolish here, no matter what. If, for instance, APHIS officials had a plan to cut their budgets that would not have serious repercussions on things like fish inspection, that instead maybe targeted unnecessary and wasteful spending, such a plan would not be allowed because it would make it look like the Administration had misrepresented the consequences of the sequester.

Couple this with Obama's lies about janitorial and security staff on Capitol Hill and the Secretary of Education's lies about teachers getting fired and what do you get? A pretty obvious pattern of deception with a pretty obvious goal of fear-mongering, of scaring the American public. Even with the sequester now in place, the game continues.

And the worst of it: the Administration is prepared to sacrifice public safety in order to maintain its false narrative on the consequences of the sequester.

Since the sequester became a reality, the stock market has--amazingly--failed to collapse. Indeed, the DOW closed at a record high today. The ratings agencies came out in praise of the sequester cuts--though they thought more cuts were still necessary--as a means of preserving the country's triple-A credit rating.

It's an odd thing, if Obama had embraced the sequester in full, he could now be trumpeting the reaction of the markets to it; he could have welcomed the opportunity Republicans gave him to control the cuts. But in order to do this, Obama would have to admit something he will never admit: cutting government spending can be a good thing, all by itself. His insistence on a "balanced approach" and on the narrative that only such an approach is helpful has put him behind the proverbial eight ball.

Once upon a time, Rush Limbaugh caught a lot of heat for saying that he "hoped Obama would fail." People took that to mean Limbaugh hoped the country, its economy, would fail. Irony of ironies, now it is Obama who most hope for economic failure, in order to protect his poorly conceived position on the consequences of the sequester. High comedy from the Administration once again.

Cheers, all.

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