February 27, 2013

AP: Obama Rejects GOP Plan For Sequestration Flexibility Because It Would ‘Force Him to Choose Between the Bad and the Terrible’

We don’t need to speculate about the feelings of Josh Lederman at the Associated Press about who has the high ground in the ongoing sequestration discussions in Washington.

What President Obama actually said about the idea of having more flexibiliity in deciding where to reduce projected spending, followed by how Lederman spun it, both follow the jump.

Here’s what Obama said in Newport News, Virginia:

So let me just make one last point, by the way, for those of you who are following this. Now, lately, some people have been saying, well, maybe we’ll just give the President some flexibility. He could make the cuts the way he wants and that way it won’t be as damaging. The problem is when you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months, which represents over a 10-percent cut in the defense budget in seven months, there’s no smart way to do that. There’s no smart way to do that. You don’t want to have to choose between, let’s see, do I close funding for the disabled kid, or the poor kid? Do I close this Navy shipyard or some other one? When you’re doing things in a way that’s not smart, you can’t gloss over the pain and the impact it’s going to have on the economy.

And the broader point is, Virginia, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. We can’t just cut our way to prosperity. We can’t ask seniors and working families like yours to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and the most powerful.

Here’s how Lederman transformed what Obama said in his Tuesday afternoon report (HT to an email from a retired journalist):

Obama rejects plan for more say in spending cuts

President Barack Obama brushed off a Republican plan Tuesday to give him flexibility to allocate $85 billion in looming spending cuts, wanting no part of a deal that would force him to choose between the bad and the terrible.

No bias there. (/sarc)

Lederman later acknowledged that it really isn’t so terrible, though of course he didn’t qualify it using the same type of language he employed in his intro. He also saved any mention of the fact that the GOP-controlled House has already passed two bills which the Senate has refused to consider until much later paragraphs (bolds are mine):

The White House has warned the $85 billion in cuts could affect everything from commercial flights to classrooms to meat inspections. The cuts would slash domestic and defense spending, leading to forced unpaid days off for hundreds of thousands of workers.

The impact won’t be immediate. Federal workers would be notified next week that they will have to take up to a day off every week without pay, but the furloughs won’t start for a month due to notification requirements. That will give negotiators some breathing room to work on a deal.

… In the Republican-controlled House, Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said he’d already done his part, complaining that the House twice passed bills to replace the cuts with more targeted reductions.

“We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something,” Boehner told reporters.

Finally, Lederman unskeptically reported a Homeland Security decision to release jailed illegal immigrants even before sequestration takes effect as something that had to be done:

Also on Tuesday came word of the first tangible impact of the looming budget cuts on the nation’s security at home. To save costs, the Department of Homeland Security has started releasing illegal immigrants being held in immigration jails across the country, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

Homeland Security spent $47.2 billion during fiscal 2012, up from $40.7 billion in fiscal 2008. The idea that this stunt was unavoidable is laughable everywhere except in the nation’s establishment press, especially so at the AP, the Administration’s Press.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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