One of the most irrelevant public debates of recent years is on the question of who proposed the sequester, a set of automatic budget cuts that will cause considerable pain in north Alabama beginning Friday.
The short answer appears to be that the proposal came from the White House.
Blaming President Barack Obama for the sequester, however, is like blaming a mugging victim for handing over his wallet when a gun was pointed at his head.
As bad as the sequester is for the economy, failure to raise the debt ceiling in 2011 would have been much worse. The resulting cuts would have been deeper, the default on existing debt payments would have undermined U.S. credit and the combination would have sent the United States — and probably many other nations — back into recession.
The U.S. House — including Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville — was adamant it would not increase the debt ceiling in 2011, even though the increase only allowed the nation to honor debts Congress already had incurred. The sequester, designed to be less catastrophic than default but painful enough to force compromise, was the ransom the White House paid to keep the House from crashing the economy.
If federal spending poses as immediate a threat as Brooks and other House members claim, they should be proud. Good or bad, the House owns sequestration.