GOP Muddles The Message Yet Again

Boehner

Speaker John Boehner wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that correctly pointed out that the across the board budget cuts known as sequestration were President Obama’s idea and that Obama signed them into law. That’s all fine and good, but he went on to repeat Obama’s doomsday talking points about how these cuts will cripple the military and hurt the economy. Byron York questioned the message Boehner is sending.

The effect of Boehner’s argument is to make Obama seem reasonable in comparison. After all, the president certainly agrees with Boehner that the sequester cuts threaten national security and jobs.  The difference is that Obama wants to avoid them.  At the same time, Boehner is contributing to Republican confusion on the question of whether the cuts are in fact “deep” or whether they are relatively minor.

Could the GOP message on the sequester be any more self-defeating?  Boehner could argue that the sequester cuts are necessary as a first — and somewhat modest — step toward controlling the deficits that threaten the economy.  Instead, he describes them as a threat to national security and jobs that he nevertheless supports.  It’s not an argument that is likely to persuade millions of Americans.

Wednesday morning, when Boehner’s op-ed appeared, I sent questions along these lines to Boehner’s office.  Spokesman Michael Steel replied, “We support replacing the indiscriminate cuts in the sequester with smarter cuts and reforms (of an equal amount).  That’s what we did with the sequester replacement bills written by Chairman Ryan that we passed last year.”  Another spokesman, Brendan Buck, added that “it is not the amount of the cuts…it’s where they fall — disproportionately on accounts important to our national security.”

None of which addresses the Republican problem on the sequester.

Read the whole thing. In all fairness, the piece Boehner wrote did point out that the GOP has passed an alternate plan that would cut spending in other areas, and the Democrats have done nothing. But he opened by agreeing with the doomsday talking points. Why didn’t he also note that the Defense Department is purposely picking and choosing what spending cuts they highlight to garner the most attention? Could it be that everyone in Congress is more interested in protecting defense contracting jobs than the troops they claim to support?

T

his is just another example of a crisis ginned up by Obama that he’s now exploiting to use as a weapon against Republicans. The least they could do in response is to avoid sending out muddled and confusing messages.