Fox News
February 22, 2013

A timeline of Obama's sequester mess

Guests: Jay Sekulow, Dennis Kucinich

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 22, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." The clock is ticking on the budget hatchet that is known as sequestration. Now, that's the poison pill that was supposed to force a spending compromise, because it was thought to be such a bad idea that nobody would ever actually let it happen. But the March 1st deadline is now days away with no last minute deal in sight.

So, let's take a look back and see how we got back into this mess. Now, this all began two years ago as negotiations broke down between the president and Congress over raising the debt ceiling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: July, 2011. With budget and debt ceiling negotiations stalled leaders from both parties tried to force a compromise. Now Bob Woodward's book "The Price of Politics" details a White House idea to guarantee that their plan would lead to results down the road.

At 2:30 P.M., Jack Lew and Rob Nabors went to the Senate to meet with Harry Reid and his chief of staff David Krone. "We have an idea for a trigger," Lew said. "What's the idea?" Reid asked skeptically. "Sequestration." That's the beauty of the sequester they said, it's so ridiculous that no one ever wanted to happen. It was a bomb that no one wanted to drop and actually would be an action forcing event.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're going to be able to come to some agreement with the White House and end this impasse.

SEN. HARRY REID, D-NEV., STATE MAJORITY LEADER: We've been willing to say that there could be a sequestration as long as it included some revenue.

HANNITY: Now the automatic cuts would slash both defense and domestic spending, both sides claim victory.

BOEHNER: I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, AUG. 2, 2011: Leaders of both parties in both chambers have reached an agreement. It establishes a bipartisan committee of Congress to report back by November. Tough cuts that both parties would find objectionable would automatically go into effect if we don't act.

LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY, OCT. 13, 2011: One of the great national security threats is the dysfunctionality of the Congress.

HANNITY: November, 2011 as the Thanksgiving deadline looms, President Obama heads to Hawaii.

OBAMA, NOV. 13, 2011: My hope is that over the next several days, the Congressional leadership on the super committee go ahead and bite the bullet and do what needs to be done.

HANNITY: But the super committee collapses.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: The fact of the matter is, Democrats have not coalesced around a plan.

HANNITY: Thanksgiving comes and goes, and no deal is reached.

February 2012, Republican senators proposed alternative cuts to prevent the sequester from slashing defense. Democrats say no way.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, FEB. 2, 2012: Some members of Congress promise to their constituents, we're holding our own feet to the fire, my fellow Americans and then a few months later decided we didn't really mean it, let's change that. That's not how it works.

REID: They should keep their words.

HANNITY: Suddenly, no one wants to take credit for the sequester.

OBAMA, OCT. 22, 2012: The sequester is not something that I proposed, it's something that Congress has not proposes, it will not happen.

HANNITY: But as the March 1st deadline comes closer, everyone tries to get farther and farther away from blame.

BOEHNER, FEB. 14: This sequester was the president's idea, his party needs to follow through.

REP. STENY HOYER, D-MD., FEB. 15: Sequestration is a Republican policy and it's a bad policy.

HANNITY: Put this to rest, whose idea was the sequester?

BOB WOODWARD: First, it was the White House.

CARNEY, FEB. 19: But let's be clear. Republicans embraced it. Every member of the House Republican leadership voted for it.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS, D-MONT., FEB. 20: The president is part of the sequester. And the White House recommended it, frankly.

OBAMA: I don't know why it is in this town, folks leave stuff until the last minute.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: And joining us now Jay Sekulow from the American Center for Law and Justice, and former Ohio Democratic congressman, Fox News contributor Dennis Kucinich. Guys, welcome back to the program, both of you, good to see you.

JAY SEKULOW, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: Sean, good to see you.

DENNIS KUCINICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Sean, thank you.

HANNITY: You know, it matters who did, in terms of putting this idea forward. Dennis Kucinich, it does matter, doesn't it? Because this was the president's idea, that shouldn't be in dispute and now he's seeing all these horrible things about it. Little ironic, little hypocritical for him to go out there and demagogue what he himself proposed, isn't it?

KUCINICH: I think that the White House never expected that the sequestration would actually happen. I thought that they looked at it as a negotiating strategy, but what you have on your earlier report is absolutely right. I mean, this idea started with the White House, they took it to the Democratic leadership in the Senate. The leaders in both the Democrat and Republican Party in the House and the Senate signed on to this. The president signed the bill into law which set the super committee and also set in motion the process that if the super committee failed, we go to sequestration.

HANNITY: But wasn't it more of an election strategy though. The president did this because he wanted to get reelected, didn't want to face raising the debt ceiling again, isn't that really the cause of this?

KUCINICH: You know, what causes me to answer your question yes is this, you look at the exchange between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the August 22nd, 2012 debate where President Obama disclaimed any involvement in the sequester. So, at some point they decided they had to get away from the sequester, it was an election issue and now they're stuck with it and now we're all stuck with it.

HANNITY: And isn't that a lie. I mean, can't we call things what they are? I mean, that seemed to be a bold-faced lie, Jay?

SEKULOW: No, you're absolutely correct. I mean, this was the president. The president owns this. He owns sequester, but Sean, I think there's another point here that has to be made. You know, some have said that this is a manufactured crisis. This is a faux crisis, this isn't a real crisis. These sequestered cuts are not going to end our Republic as we know it, number one. Number two, the president as you said owns this, it was his idea. He thought it would never happen, well, guess what? He gets a revenue increase, he doesn't want to make cuts, now it's happening.

So, it's his own poison pill that he's being forced to swallow here and it's going to be very interesting to see how they're trying to, you know, they're trying to put this off on the Republicans now, but that is not going to work, no one is going to buy that.

HANNITY: All right. Everybody I think in this audience, I think is sophisticated enough, Congressman, to know what baseline government is where government projects these massive increases every year, we're borrowing over a trillion dollars a year, 46 cents of every dollar we're borrowing. This year's budget with all of the president and the demagoguing and doom and gloom in his predictions, we spent more money this year than we spent last year.

And he acts as though this is a Mayan apocalypse, that the Book of Revelations, the seas have been opened and the hell and fury of the final days is upon us. That's just cannot be true. Why does he do this?

KUCINICH: Well, Sean, when things get down to partisan politics, and where truth becomes the parcel of one party or the other party, we've got a problem and that's where we're at with the sequester. The bigger question is, what are we going to do about our country? How we're going to get the economy going? How do we get people back to work? How do we get small businesses moving again?

There are larger questions that are totally being ignored in this and what I find astonishing, Sean, is that at this very time that we're concerned about how we're spending money and we're concerned about the Defense Budget, we're getting ready to send 4,000 U.S. troops to 35 different countries and Africa to start to get involved there and we can't even take care of things here at home and we're going to start telling people in Africa how to take run their affairs.

HANNITY: I don't get Washington math, Jay Sekulow, and I think everything should be measured through this prism. Is it worth breaking open our children's piggy banks, that's the President's basically, this is generational theft and stealing from our kids. So, if we can't cut $85 billion out of 3.8 trillion that we're spending, this is a lost cause. We'll never balance the budget.

SEKULOW: That's why I keep-- yes, that's why I keep saying and I think Dennis agrees with this. I mean, this is in one sense, this is not a manufactured crisis, it's a fake crisis, it's a faux crisis, this isn't going to change anything if the sequester were to go into effect. But what has to be reiterated here is the politics of Washington have done this. And it's the president who initiated this. This was the president's idea, this was his staff's idea. By the way, now there's going to be the Secretary of Treasury, this was their idea to put this in place and they're really having to deal with it.

KUCINICH: Well, Jay and Sean, I want to make, you know, I agree with you Jay, what you're saying, this is, you know, manufacturer or faux crisis. But the fact of the matter is, there will be consequences that are going to be made based on the decisions when they start talking about cutting and that will precipitate some real crisis. We don't know how this is going to end. It may start as a farce, but it could end as a tragedy.

HANNITY: You know, you're pointing out something Congressman that few Democrats seem to be willing to point out, that we keep accumulating this debt. Eventually the markets are going to say, well, we don't really trust lending you money anymore and there's only so much the Federal Reserve can do, frankly, they've done enough damage as it is and does America then begin the spiral down towards Greece?

My fear is one day these cuts will come, but they will be imposed on us just like Greece, just like Spain, just like Italy and Portugal.

KUCINICH: We're the United States of America, we're not going to accept that kind of an austerity program, we're not going to go down the tubes, we've got to fight back, but we need Congress to work together and the president to work with the Congress. And this -- all of this partisan -- doesn't serve the interest of America.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

HANNITY: How can you work with a man who says they want to poison the air and water? How do you work with somebody like that?

KUCINICH: Look, this is what happens --

SEKULOW: I mean, the reality is --

KUCINICH: Wait a minute, hold it, this is what happens when partisanship runs amok. I mean, their cooler heads will prevail at some point and you shouldn't be attacking people who you'll end up having the working with. This is a fundamental flaw in the the approach is being used.

HANNITY: And the president is as guilty as anybody.

SEKULOW: Yes, but the -- that's the politics of it. The reality is this, ask yourself this question, what I'm asking myself. We've got this real serious fiscal crisis in this country, no doubt about it. Dennis Kucinich, we all agree. So, why ask yourself this -- and you've been covering this, Sean -- why are we sending F-16s that we're borrowing money from the Chinese to go give money to the Muslim Brotherhood government, including F- 16s, 20 F-16s and 200 tanks. Ask yourself, why are we doing this? And that kind of fiscal spending is out of control and that would come to roost on us and our children and our grandchildren.

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