Some days, it's harder than others to take the Obama Administration seriously.
The administration's senior budget official, Office of Management and Budget acting Director Jeffrey Zients, decided a little partisan one-upmanship was more important than having a serious discussion about impending military cuts during a House Armed Services Committee hearing this week.
When asked about how the administration plans to prevent nearly $500 billion in mandatory military cuts, called sequestration, Zients said, "What is holding us up right now is the Republican refusal to have the top two percent pay their fair share."
The cuts will be triggered if there's no budget deal with Congress by Jan. 2.
"Zeints’ comments are pretty brazen in light of the $800 billion in wasted taxpayer dollars that was supposed to (but didn’t) stimulate the economy and which were, in effect, paid for by $800 billion in defense cuts,” said Gary Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute.
While Congress is trying to find $1.2 trillion in budget cuts to avoid the sequestration cuts, after Zeints' comments, Republican members of the Armed Services Committee ripped into the Obama Administration for not pushing Democrats to reach a deal.
Rep. Mike Turner said, "The president has the full responsibility for sequestration, having endorsed it and then signed it himself. You have no plan."
Zeints was also challenged on a Department of Labor memo that seemed to advise defense contractors to break the law called the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN, which governs issuing of pink slips in defense work.
The law requires that workers be given 60 days' notice of layoffs when defense work is cut. The DOL memo suggested that employers should delay issuing the slips, which could open the contractors to lawsuits.
The DOL's excuse is that sequestration is not certain, therefore the WARN Act doesn't apply. Translation: Defense contract workers won't receive pink slips just before the November election.
Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon said to Zeints, "This is the law of the land and we have an obligation. ... (Defense industry leaders) all believe that layoffs are reasonably foreseeable and the WARN Act applies, so why do you disagree with them?”
Turner accused the administration of election posturing, saying the DOL advice is "a fiction" concocted to hold on to votes for Obama.
Meanwhile, the fiction continued at an Obama campaign event in Ohio, where audiences were treated to a return of the "front row fainter."
During the 2008 election, the Obama campaign was known to stage incidents during speeches in which a member of the audience near the podium would "faint," causing the interruption of the speech.
On cue, Obama would fret about the person's welfare, then offer the "victim" his own bottle of water before medical personnel arrived to care for the "distressed" audience member. Obama would then calm the audience and assure them that the person was all right before resuming speaking.
Eventually, some journalists got sick of the nonsense and called the campaign on it. Since then, it's become a running joke among people covering Obama. This election year, the bit has returned, most recently in Ohio.
"This happens to me all the time," Obama said during the latest collapse. We are expected to believe that Obama's presence makes people collapse from overexposure to pure awesomeness.
While King Obama is out and about playing rock star, the real business of this country and its national defense falls by the wayside.