Republicans are launching an aggressive effort to blame President Obama for deep cuts due to hit the Pentagon next year, spotlighting a potentially dangerous issue for the president a day ahead of a two-day campaign swing through military-rich Virginia.
Orchestrated by Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, top Virginia Republicans issued a series of statements Thursday accusing Obama of presiding over “radical” cuts that would harm the state’s economy as well as national security. The effort highlighted not only how competitive Virginia is expected to be in this year’s presidential race, but also the new hurdles that loom for Obama in a state he won in 2008 with a six-point margin.
At issue are automatic defense cuts that are set to kick in at the end of the year. The problem, however, is that the defense cuts were the GOP’s idea.
As part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, policymakers accepted over $1 trillion in cuts that would kick in if the so-called super-committee failed. Dems weren’t completely willing to roll over – they wanted to create an incentive for Republicans to work in good faith, and Republicans agreed: if the committee failed, the GOP would accept defense cuts and Dems would accept non-defense domestic cuts. The committee, of course, flopped, which put us on the clock for the automatic reductions (the “sequester”).
Now, however, Republicans are on the attack, condemning Obama in Virginia for these same looming cuts to military spending. They are, however, the GOP’s idea. In fact, two Romney surrogates pushed this line yesterday – Reps. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) and Randy Forbes (R-Va.) – despite the fact that they personally voted for the package that would make the automatic cuts.
This is a bit like Romney surrogates defending the candidate on equal pay for women after the surrogates voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Oh wait, that happened, too.