Obama makes shutdown as painful as possible

10/12/2013 5:00 PM

10/12/2013 7:22 PM

Last week I wrote a column accusing the president of having a vindictive streak — of deliberately trying to make the lives of average Americans worse just so he could score ideological and political points.

We already knew from how he handled the budget sequester that President Barack Obama liked this approach. He ordered Cabinet secretaries not to do their jobs — i.e., to manage as best they could under spending restraints — but instead to find ways to make the cuts needlessly painful for innocents caught in the Beltway crossfire.

They dusted off the same playbook for the shutdown. As one park ranger told The Washington Times, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can.”

Admittedly, the case was circumstantial. There was no smoking gun. What was really needed was a confession.

Obama delivered. On Oct. 8, Obama was asked by Mark Knoller of CBS whether he was “tempted” to sign the numerous funding bills passed by the GOP-controlled House that would greatly alleviate the pain of the shutdown. Republicans have voted to reopen parks, fund cancer trials for children at the National Institutes of Health, and to keep Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Food and Drug Administration going through this partial shutdown. But Obama has threatened vetoes.

“Of course I’m tempted” to sign those bills, Obama explained. “But here’s the problem. What you’ve seen are bills that come up wherever Republicans are feeling political pressure, they put a bill forward. And if there’s no political heat, if there’s no television story on it, then nothing happens.”

Obama’s answer dragged on, as all of Obama’s answers do. But the point was made. For the first time in American history, a president confessed to deliberately hurting his country to score points against his enemies.

Which brings us to the national disgrace last week in which the Department of Defense denied death benefits to the families of fallen service members.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insists, with operatic righteousness, that Obama never intended for the 26 families of the fallen to be denied this aid or to be hindered from retrieving their beloveds’ remains from Dover Air Force Base.

But Carney is surely lying — and the evidence isn’t simply that his lips are moving.

Carney defends the administration, saying the Pentagon warned Congress in late September that the shutdown would prevent the payments from going out.

But Congress passed the Pay Our Military Act to fund the military through the shutdown. Administration officials first stonewalled Congress’ efforts for clarity on the issue, and then the lawyers eventually determined that because the act didn’t specifically include the word “benefits,” they couldn’t err on the side of helping grieving families. In other words, when asked to make a judgment call, and knowing that Congress wanted the benefits paid, this administration still claimed its hands were tied by the fine print.

Let me say it again. The president confessed. It’s his express policy to punish innocent bystanders to score partisan points. That order has gone forth like a fatwa to the bureaucracy. And it is only when that policy blows up in his face that Obama becomes “very disturbed.”

When terrible things happened on George W. Bush’s watch — Katrina, Abu Ghraib, etc. — the immediate liberal response was to insist that Bush had in fact ordered or wanted the terrible things to happen.

Now we have a president openly admitting it — and no one seems to care.

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