Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sequester Wars

If the post-election public relations battle continues as it has, President Obama will win the sequester wars.  The latest Pew poll shows Republicans more likely to be blamed 49 percent to 31 percent for Obama.
The sequester version of the permanent campaign is using two messages. In the first, Obama claims the cuts will hurt important (or vulnerable) populations. This week first responders were selected for a photo op.  Also, more generally, the administration’s economic team argue the sequester will damage the economic recovery.
But, the second message rests on the well-established election theme of tax justice. The rich must pay their fair share; hence, the best way to avoid harmful effects of the sequester is to close loopholes and tax breaks for oil companies, off-shore corporations, private jets and hedge funds managers (the pollsters of the Democrat’s permanent campaign know these groups are the least sympathetic for a tax break).
Republicans are benefited by the public’s low level of interest in the sequester and their general feelings it would not be the end of the world if spending was cut. And, although the public claims to want a balanced approach, they prefer cuts over tax increases.
As Vince Carroll pointed out, the one population certain to suffer is the one that has benefited the most from Obama’s first term – employees in the Washington, D.C. region – now judged the richest per capita area in the country, and not a particularly sympathetic group either.
Will the Republicans hold the line on taxes (many hate the military cuts)? Will Republicans be blamed for whatever hardship results? Or, will the Republican base be invigorated by the leadership finally taking a stand for cutting the government?
The next seven days will be a D.C. drama that presages the fights over guns, immigration and climate change and sets the stage for the 2014 election.

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