If you caught Mitt Romney on “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, you might have noticed him pushing a line that’s fairly common in Republican circles: President Obama said the sequestration cuts wouldn’t happen, and yet, now they are. What was he referring to? This exchange from October.
Four months ago, during the final debate of the presidential campaign, Romney condemned “the sequestration cuts.” Though much of the public likely didn’t know what he was referring to, at least at the time, Obama briefly explained the background on the policy, and immediately added, “It will not happen.”
Obviously, the president’s confidence was misplaced.
What I find curious, though, is why Republicans think this reflects well on them. Obama’s comment appears to have been based on a prediction: the sequester was designed to be deliberately awful, so rather than allow the cuts to happen, even Republicans would be willing to compromise to avoid imposing another self-inflicted wound on the country. The implicit point the president was making is that responsible policymakers would intervene before the deadline, ensuring that this dangerous policy “will not happen.”
Except, of course, it did happen and responsible policymakers, at least in the Republican Party, were unwilling to reach a bipartisan agreement.
But what is the point, exactly, that the GOP hopes to get out of this talking point? As best as I can tell, the observation is based on a strange argument: “Obama thought Republicans would work in good faith to prevent something bad from happening to the country. What a fool!”
“If there was a miscalculation,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said last week, “it was that a large number of people could be so irresponsible as to pursue this policy.”
If Republicans think this makes Obama look worse and makes them look better, they’re probably not paying close enough attention.