By Justin Sink
Republican press aides on Capitol Hill Friday used social media in an attempt to pin blame for $85 billion in looming automatic cuts on President Obama, switching their Facebook and Twitter avatars to a passage from Bob Woodward's book that reports the sequester was first proposed by the White House.
President Obama devoted significant attention this week to calling for a deal that would avert the automatic spending cuts, highlighting the way ordinary Americans would be impacted and suggesting that allowing the sequester to proceed would result in furloughs and layoffs for hundreds of thousands of workers.
But Republicans are hoping to battle back against the president's power of the bully pulpit through their social media outreach, encouraging supporters to tweet with the hashtag #Obamaquester. In the tweets, Republicans emphasize that former White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is the one who first promoted the sequester as a method to motivate Congress to strike a long-term debt deal.
If Republicans are able to shift blame for the sequestration onto the White House, they believe they will have the political advantage as the deadline rapidly approaches. Obama has called for the offset of the sequester with a mixture of spending cuts and revenue increases derived from closing tax loopholes. The GOP has said they only want spending cuts from the deal.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday tersely responded to the Republican attacks on Twitter, pointing out that Republicans had voted for the bill they were now attempting to pin on the president.
House passed the sequester, 269-161, on 8/1/11. Who voted yes? 174 Republicans-including Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy and Ryan. #GOPamnesia— Jay Carney (EOP) (@PressSec) February 8, 2013