“That’s the biggest problem with the Republicans” on Capitol Hill, Gilmore, a former Virginia governor, said this morning over coffee and a ham-and-egg biscuit in Alexandria. “They think spending is the most important thing. It’s not.”I'd happily trade no tax increases for no spending cuts—the last thing this economy needs is another idiotic round of austerity. But another idiotic round of austerity is exactly what we're headed toward and it's all thanks to the sequester. If I had my way, we'd just repeal the damn thing, but neither Democrats nor Republicans are on board with that.
He says he has urged GOP leaders to back down and compromise to prevent the so-called sequester spending cuts from going through – “I keep telling them, you’re going to lose this” – and he has strong words for congressional leaders’ focus on deficit reduction as their primary economy goal.
“Above all things,” he says, “they shouldn’t be talking about debt and deficits. Because the left’s got an answer for them.”
That answer would be, raise taxes, which Gilmore says is the opposite of what the economy needs right now – and he’s quite critical of Democrats for pushing tax increases. But spending cuts won’t help the economy either, he says.
Given the choice, the Democratic plan is much better than the Republican plan—they want long-term spending cuts and revenue hikes, while Republicans want the harsh, indiscriminate, and immediate cuts of the sequester. It's not just substantively better, either—it's also politically better. Despite warnings from guys like Gilmore, the Republicans are about to walk into a buzz saw, but they don't seem to have any clue. If it weren't going to be bad for the country, it would be pretty damn entertaining.