05 July 2013

A Holiday for OIP Derangement Syndrome

At Salon, Alex Seitz-Wald reported on how FOX News has been trying to exploit the Independence Day holiday and present President Barack Obama as unpatriotic:
“Obama Spends $100M on African Trip But Cancels Marines’ July 4th Fireworks,” the headline on FoxNation read. “Shocking! While Obama Funds Syrian Rebels, Military Bases Must Cut Fireworks Celebrations,” another read. . . . Fox gave the controversy airtime twice this week, also contrasting it with the spending on the presidential trip to Africa.
But Seitz-Wald noted the real reason for cutbacks in Independence Day fireworks: the federal-budget sequestration. He wrote, “a handful of military base commanders are deciding to forgo their annual Independence Day festivities, which can cost up to $100,000, in order to devote their diminished resources to other arguably more important things like keeping people employed.”

Of course, the mendacious American right has been trying to blame Obama’s White House for the sequestration of funds. Of course, they’ve also been claiming that those cuts are too small to have any real effect—one of the hallmarks of OIP Derangement Syndrome is that consistency doesn’t matter as long as one can blame President Obama.

During budget negotiations with recalcitrant Republicans in Congress, White House officials did propose sequestration as a spur to reaching a real compromise. At the time everyone publicly agreed that such an outcome would be so ham-handed and counterproductive that they’d work very hard to avoid it. The Senate did so. The White House did so. But recalcitrant Republicans in Congress decided that their party faithful would prefer across-the-board budget cuts in the middle of the fiscal year to any budget compromise with President Obama.

Once the sequestration took effect, however, many voices on the right claimed that it was Obama’s fault. Or they pointed to specific, often symbolic cuts, like fireworks at military bases, and suggested that the President was choosing to cut those. Neither claim stands up to half a moment’s scrutiny.

Let’s try a thought experiment. In the 2012 elections for the House of Representatives, half a million more Americans voted for Democratic candidates than for Republican candidates. But because of how state legislatures have drawn House districts, the Republicans retained their slight majority in the House. But let’s imagine that they didn’t.

Instead, consider what would have happened if the House, Senate, and White House were all under Democratic control, all with the support of clear majorities of the American people. Obviously those bodies would have come to a rational budget deal. People on the right would probably claim that any such deal would involve too many taxes, but they can’t honestly deny there would have been a deal. In that case, there would be no sequestration now.

The only reason we’re seeing the sequestration cuts is because the the Republican majority in the House. And the only people who claim otherwise are suffering from a severe case of OIP Derangement Syndrome that causes them to say false things.

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