The latest war of words in Washington is over who is to blame for sequestration cuts that will take effect March 1 unless Congress acts soon. Republicans took to social media to cast blame on President Obama, while the White House has accused the GOP of suffering from “amnesia.”
In the middle of the partisan bickering, U.S. Representative Justin Amash (R-MI), a favorite among libertarians and various independent-minded voters, has emerged as a voice of reason. He is unimpressed by members of his own party trying so hard to push all the blame on the president. Tweet at Justin Amash: Tweet
Amash was interviewed by BuzzFeed on the social media tactics of Republicans to get their message out, specifically on the hashtag #Obamaquester, which was used by House Republicans and other political opponents of the president on Twitter. He said his colleagues should not waste resources and time on what he believes is a failed marketing ploy.
However, Rep. Amash’s problem with the hashtag is deeper than just disagreeing with the social media strategy. He argued that attempting to convince voters that President Obama is solely to blame for the sequester is ‘disingenuous.’
"I think it's a mistake on the part of Republicans to try to pin the sequester on Obama," Rep. Amash said. “It's totally disingenuous. The debt ceiling deal in 2011 was agreed to by Republicans and Democrats, and regardless of who came up with the sequester, they all voted for it. So, you can't vote for something and, with a straight face, go blame the other guy for its existence in law.” Tweet quote: Tweet
The sequester, which is an automatic cut of $1.2 trillion in across-the-board federal spending over the next ten years, was approved by Congress as part of a debt ceiling deal in 2011. It is something members of both parties want to avoid because it was initially designed to motivate members of the House and Senate to agree on more responsible and thoroughly considered cuts.
However, as the 112th Congress was the least productive Congress in modern U.S. History, Republicans and Democrats couldn’t come to an agreement on what cuts should actually be made. Tweet it: Tweet
Justin Amash has never been shy about criticizing members of his own party, which has not made him popular with the GOP leadership. He was even removed from his seat in the House Budget Committee last year. Yet, he has earned the respect and praise from many independent-minded voters for his candor. Tweet at Justin Amash: Tweet
Congressional leaders, Amash added, must be willing to step back and take their share of the responsibility for approving the sequester in the first place.
"You voted for it, you signed it, that means you support it," He said. "And if you don't support it, then don't vote for it and don't sign it."
The Congressional Budget Office projects that sequestration could have devastating effects on the middle class, the economy, and the labor market. As March 1 quickly approaches, many Americans would like to see lawmakers stop pointing fingers and start taking action.