Morning Action: Obama’s Sequester Flip-Flops and Stimulus Failures
SEQUESTER. In 2011, President Obama opposed undoing the sequester. The Washington Examiner has a video to remind us. But the political winds have changed, and Obama has flip-flopped, since he wants to raise more revenue. Rather than honoring the level of sequester cuts, Politico reports:
Certain that the political winds are in their favor, they’re forgoing serious negotiations for a high-risk public offensive, banking almost entirely on the president’s ability to persuade. They believe that the GOP will be scared of taking the blame from an angry public — and the White House says this is just the kind of thing that gave them the victory they claimed in the fiscal cliff fight and the most recent standoff over the debt limit.
The aim is to force Republicans to submit to new revenue as part of a deal to avert the $1.2 trillion in potential cuts… Obama will hold events at the White House with constituencies facing the brunt of the cuts, and travel to places where the deepest cuts loom.
TED CRUZ. Heritage Action Rides to Defense of Embattled Texan Sen. Cruz. Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham said:
“Sen. Ted Cruz came to Washington to advance conservative policies, not play by the same old rules that have relegated conservatives, and their ideas, to the backbench. It should come as absolutely no surprise the Washington Establishment – be it the liberal media, entrenched special interests or even wayward Republicans – are now attacking him in the press for following through on his promises.
“Although many come to Washington for the right reasons, they are quickly co-opted. Rather than fixing the problem, they become part of the problem. Heritage Action will continue to stand side by side with Ted Cruz, and any other lawmaker, who is committed to fighting for freedom.”
A summary of the plan, which Mr. Obama is expected to discuss in interviews, was obtained by The New York Times. The draft sounds three major themes that Mr. Obama has discussed since he was first a candidate for the presidency, but with initiatives intended to engage in work that minimizes the need for Congressional approval and which can capitalize on private investment to help start projects.
The first element of the plan is a “fix it first” policy that calls for investing $50 billion in transportation infrastructure, subject to Congressional approval. Fully $40 billion of that amount would be directed to work on the highways, bridges, transit systems and airports “most in need of repair,” according to the document.
The second part of the plan would draw on private investment from across the nation and around the world for federal, state and local projects. It revives the president’s call for creation of a National Infrastructure Bank, which could bring public and private financing together to plan projects. The proposal would also allow issuing new America Fast Forward bonds to follow up on the Build America Bonds program from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The third portion of the plan would work to eliminate red tape in permits and review for infrastructure projects. This effort would build on a White House initiative to speed up plans for projects like harbor deepening and surface transportation. The administration has said modernizing the process of permits and review can “create better outcomes for communities and the environment.”
SIMPSON-BOWLES. While Congress is in recess, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles are still attempting to convince lawmakers to adopt their deficit reduction plan, about which they are withholding the finer details:
In broad strokes, it would cut the projected deficit by a further $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years, over and above the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction already passed by Congress and signed by the president in the last two years. The point, Bowles stressed, was not simply to stabilize the debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio but to put it on a downward trajectory.
That may sound good, but Heritage warns that the plan is largely fluff and contains another large tax increase:
A Bipartisan Path Forward to Securing America’s Future lacks any significant details but does include a $600 billion tax increase in addition to the $618 billion already being raised from the fiscal cliff deal.