The Democrats' 'Bridgegate' trap
The glee with which the Democrat media and political classes have jumped on the actions of staffers of Governor Chris Christie apparently punishing the public as a means of punishing his political enemies is going to come back to haunt them. At least if Republicans have the wit to spring a trap that has now been baited. Consider this from PJM's Bridget Johnson:
A House Natural Resources Committee investigation has found that President Obama's Office of Management and Budget ordered that sequestration cuts be applied retroactively to funding for rural schools over the opposition of the Agriculture Department.
The committee's report released today, "A Less Secure Future for Rural Schools: An Investigation into the Obama Administration's Questionable Application of the Sequester to the Secure Rural Schools Program," detailed how last February the USDA had determined 2013 sequestration wouldn't apply to 2012 funds that had already been distributed in the program. The White House stepped in and overruled the USDA, though both agencies haven't turned over numerous subpoenaed documents that could reveal more behind the decision. (snip)
The report by the committee's Republican majority summarized that "the Obama Administration complied with the law to make a SRS payment authorized in FY 2012, but then acted to retroactively apply the FY 2013 sequester to payments that had already been disbursed with the full knowledge that sequestration was set to take effect. This action demonstrates an obvious attempt of the Administration to make the sequester appear as 'painful as possible.'"
Of course, the defenders of the Obama administration will claim that there was no presidential involvement, just as they have claimed that the IRS scandal involved low level bureaucrats in Cincinnati, and as they denied responsibility for closing the WW II Memorial during the 17% "shutdown." But the problem is that with bridgegate they are establishing the principle that the atmosphere created at the top is what really matters, so Governor Christie is on the hook for the actions of his staff.
One big difference is that the Obama administration is much better at stonewalling:
However, the report notes, none of the responses from OMB or USDA on the incident "included internal emails or other documents that would shed light on the inner workings of the Obama Administration or how the decision to apply the sequester was made or how it was implemented."
However, the left has established a fresh template: that punitive steps taken by an administration are the responsibility of the man in charge.
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit pithily nails the significance of this:
Hey, this is kinda like "bridgegate," only national in scale and targeted at children
I say, go for it, Republicans. Hold hearings in rural areas impacted, with tearful teachers and administrators explaining what those mean-spirited cuts meant for the children.
Republicans just have to learn how to play the game the way the Democrats do.