Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Tuesday that he believes the sequester is part of President Barack Obama's "deliberate strategy of punishing the American people."
"The Obama strategy is: maximum pain for political gain," Gingrich told conservative pundit Sean Hannity on his radio show. "[Obama] is deliberately deciding to impose the worst possible cuts in order to maximize the pain level on the American people."
Gingrich was promoting an online petition aimed at stopping air travel disruptions Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has warned will result from the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts which are set to kick in on Friday.
"I picked on air travel because if they mess up the air travel system, there are 2 million Americans a day who are directly affected," Gingrich said. "All those folks are going to see their lives messed up because of Barack Obama."
The website, SaveAirTravelNow.com, does not say specifically how the signatures it collects will be used. Rather, it promises to "keep you informed on developments related to America’s air travel system" and to provide "additional content from Gingrich Productions."
Gingrich told Hannity that he thinks Obama's sequester strategy is going to backfire.
"I think the president's problem -- while he's very clever, and he's very emotional, and he's very demagogic -- he's arguing against the common sense practicality of the American people," Gingrich said. "And in the end, I think this will all blow up on him."
The sequester was always expected to be painful, but it was never supposed to go into effect. Rather, it was meant to scare lawmakers into coming up with an alternative to reduce the deficit. That, so far, has not happened, meaning that agencies across the federal government are figuring out how to absorb the indiscriminate cuts. The consequences, according to administration officials, will range from employee furloughs to fewer public services.