Column: Both Sides Are Not Equally to Blame
The corporate media would have you believe that the failure to prevent the sequester cuts was due to the intransigence of both political parties. That is except for right-wing talk radio and Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda machine, which would have you believe that everything, including crabgrass and the common cold, is Obama’s fault.
Obviously the slant of Fox News and blowhards like Limbaugh is well established, but there are plenty of people who believe they are getting unbiased information when they pick up their local paper or watch Meet the Press. However, even a cursory look at the facts demonstrates that the Republicans are responsible for this manufactured sequester crisis, and your media outlets are doing you a disservice by pretending otherwise.
Let’s start with this: there is no good reason to reduce government spending during a recession and/or employment slump. The only time we need to worry about deficits and debt is when the economy is healthy and government borrowing might take money out of the hands of the private sector. This was not the case back in 2011 when this hubbub began, and it is not the case today, but Republicans operate under a different set of rules. Namely, that the only time we need to worry about deficits and debt is when a Democrat is in the Whitehouse, and under that circumstance it is apparently the only thing of which they will speak.
To put this in context: the deficit was at its highest in 2009, which reflected the final Bush budget, plus all the emergency bailout and stimulus money that both Presidents pushed for in the early days of the great recession, and deficit spending has come down every year since then. In 2011 with unemployment over 9%, Republicans were complaining that deficit reduction was not happening fast enough and tried to use the need to raise the debt ceiling for their political gain.
Why would they make an issue out of paying for the bills that Congress had already rang up, when that was clearly not in the macroeconomic interest of the country and when no such thing ever happened to Reagan and either Bush when they maxed out the country’s credit limit? For your answer you need look no further then Mitch McConnell’s inauguration day 2009 pledge to ensure that Obama be a one-term President. The Republican leadership hates Obama with the heat of a thousand white-hot suns, and they are hunky dory with kneecapping the economy and inflicting unnecessary pain on the American public in order to hinder his efforts in whatever way they can.
The sequester was meant to be such a stinker that nobody wanted to see it come to pass. Although most Americans, including Obama, have been hypnotized by the constant conservative drum beat for deficit reduction, polls demonstrate that they want a balanced approach that includes commonsense tax policy and closing egregious loopholes. Far from being a hardliner, the President continues to seek out a Grand Bargain which would even include reductions in social security benefits that most Democrats are dead set against. Republicans refuse to even consider anything that includes increasing revenue in any way, so who is being intransigent?
If you want to blame Obama for something, you can blame him for being so naïve as to believe that even after twice winning in landslides, that there would be enough stand-up congressional Republicans to work with in order to actually get things done. The blame for the sequester though, belongs to congressional Republicans. And you can thank the feckless media for being too afraid to look liberal and, in turn, lose access to Republican interviews for not simply telling you like it is.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.