The Obama administration’s implementation of sequestration has followed the classic firehouse or Washington Monument strategy. If no one felt the effects of sequestration, then he’d cancel White House tours; that would make citizens demand that Republicans cave to his demands. It didn’t work at first.

Jim Geraghty, in the beginning of March, noted that one aspect of the administration’s strategy was that the proposed furloughs of air traffic controllers would disrupt travel and elicit enough outrage against Republicans to get them to cave.

With furloughs of air traffic controllers looming, Sen. Pat Toomey took to the airwaves to point out the cynicism of the administration:

“The president and many in his administration were so shrill about this leading up to the sequester, they feel like they better make it painful or else look pretty foolish having predicted all the dire consequences,” the Pennsylvania senator said.

“They backed themselves into a bad position, where what they should’ve done is said, ‘Let’s work with Congress; let’s find the duplication, the waste, the excess, the low priority items.’ They can easily make due with the money that’s left over.”

Toomey said it was “really irresponsible to implement these modest savings in the most disruptive way.”

Apparently, Toomey’s argument won the day.

Brian Beutler is none too pleased.

The point of sequestration is supposedly to create just enough chaos that regular people — people with political clout, such as, say, business travelers — demand that Congress fix it. Or as the Democrats conceived it, to create the public pressure they need to knock Republicans off their absolutist position on taxes.

Well, they got their outcry…and then promptly folded. They allowed Republicans to inaccurately characterize the FAA furloughs as a political stunt. Then without any organized effort to cast the flight delays as part of the same problem that’s also keeping poor people homeless they assented to providing special treatment to the traveling class.

In the first paragraph, Beutler explains that the implementation of sequestration was supposed to arouse enough outrage to pressure Republicans to cave on their budget priorities. In other words, it was a political stunt. What was inaccurate about the Republicans’ characterization? By Beutler’s own description it was a political stunt. The Republicans called the administration on it and won the argument.

Of course, there could be some selfishness involved in the vote too.




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