Marc Ambinder

3 reasons why Obama isn't leading on the sequester

President Obama has talked about the sequester often enough, and his press secretary, Jay Carney, is clear about the consequences during the daily White House briefings.

But where's the urgency? The situation seems more dire than the previous economic cliff crises because Republicans genuinely believe that they will win by holding out, and because they're angry about having to yield to more revenue increases than the deal that created the sequester implied. But Obama has not resorted to full finger-shaking, red-faced exhorting. Why not? Here are three reasons in order of significance:

1. Any deal that comes from the White House will not pass muster with House Republicans. So every effort must start and end in Congress. That is an incontrovertible political truth.

2. There are no cage-rattlers at the White House. Rahm Emanuel was a cage-rattler. He was capable of making ripples that could tip dynamics and make the incontrovertible... controvertible. The White House today is much quieter. There are no huge, saber-teeth personalities. 

3. The agencies are doing the job for him. From flight delays to FBI furloughs, entities that are more trusted than politicians are giving the lowdown to the media, which is repeating it. The projected misery is what will influence public opinion, which, in turn, might influence Congress. 

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