John Boehner and his fellow Republicans have been furiously trying to pin all the blame for the sequester on President Obama, despite the fact that it was Congress that passed the law. But John Avlon of the Daily Beast shows a Powerpoint presentation from Boehner to his caucus explaining why they should vote for the sequestration deal, because it would “hold President Obama accountable.”
The latest semantic spin is to call the looming $1.2 trillion in cuts, which could throw the whole economy back into recession, “Obama’s Sequester.” House Speaker John Boehner indulged this approach half a dozen times in a floor speech before he went on break, establishing its place in the talking-points firmament.
There are a couple problems with this tactic, as my colleague Michael Tomasky pointed out Tuesday. Congress passed sequestration before the president signed it, and the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating.
But here’s the thing. I happened to come across an old email that throws cold water on House Republicans’ attempts to call this “Obama’s Sequester.”
It’s a PowerPoint presentation that Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011. Intended to explain the outline of the proposed debt deal, the presentation is titled: “Two Step Approach to Hold President Obama Accountable.”
It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that “sequestration” was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending—the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.
You can see the full presentation at the link above. 218 Republicans in the House voted for the sequestration deal, with only 22 voting no. All 188 Democrats voted no. But the very people who voted for it now want to blame someone else.
In reality, the opposite is true. The Obama administration is now urging Congress to scuttle the sequester, not only to avoid the spending cuts on the domestic side but also to avoid any real cuts to defense. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote a letter to Boehner the other day claiming, absurdly, that the tiny cuts to defense spending in the sequestration deal would harm national security.