The White House strategy on the sequester was built around a familiar miscalculation about Republicans. It assumed that, in the end, they would be reasonable and negotiate a realistic alternative to indiscriminate cuts. Because the reductions hurt defense programs long held sacrosanct by Republicans, the White House thought it had leverage that would reduce the damage to the domestic programs favored by Democrats.Jump below the fold for more analysis of the sequester deadline.
It turns out, though, that the defense hawks in the party are outnumbered. More Republicans seem to care about reducing spending at all costs, and the prospect of damaging vital government programs does not seem to bother them. “Fiscal questions trump defense in a way they never would have after 9/11,” Representative Tom Cole, a Republican of Oklahoma, told The Times. “But the war in Iraq is over. Troops are coming home from Afghanistan, and we want to secure the cuts.”
Cuts this draconian have no place in a tottering economy. But, realistically, the only way to break this standoff is for the cuts to exact their toll on daily life, causing Republicans to face pressure from the public to negotiate an alternative plan with higher revenues in March as part of talks to finance the government for the final six months of the fiscal year.
Hilary Rosen at The Washington Post:
Republicans seem to be hoping that President Obama will negotiate with himself until they are satisfied.Yep, that sums it up pretty well.
Keith Koffler at Reuters:
“My sense,” Obama said, talking about the GOP position on the sequester, “is that their basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations, and they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes. And that’s the thing that binds their party together at this point.”Dana Milbank at The Washington Post details how intently Republicans have been working...on nothing:
So Republicans would rather see the country sink into sequester-induced Hades than harm one hair on the heads of their rich friends? Really?
One can be sure, once the sequester takes hold, that every teacher, fireman and police officer who has lost a job – along with anyone whose ambulance didn’t arrive in time or whose flight was delayed more than 15 minutes – will be paraded through the East Room so that all might know only cold hearts beat in Republicans’ breasts.
Of the 56 days so far in 2013, the House has been in session for 20 — and a large chunk of those have been pro-forma sessions without votes, or with ceremonial bills. After a week’s recess, the chamber returned Monday with just a few items on the calendar. Lawmakers are scheduled to be out of town Friday, when the sequester is set to take effect. They’re planning another recess at the end of March, when the federal government is due to shut down for lack of funding.Paul Begala breaks through the beltway noise and points out that it's the Republicans who got us into this mess:
In a column on the budget, to maintain credibility with Beltway elites, I am supposed to claim the impasse is both parties’ fault. It isn’t. The conventional wisdom is that Republicans won’t support any more tax increases and Democrats won’t support any more spending cuts. That’s half right. [...]Ezra Klein:
House Democrats have proposed some sensible spending cuts: like doing away with the billions we spend subsidizing oil companies. With gas nearing $4 a gallon, does anyone really want to send taxpayers’ money to the welfare queens of ExxonMobil? House Dems would also enact the Buffett rule (I prefer “Romney rule”), ending the obscenity in the tax code that lets hedge-fund managers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.
Not to be outdone, Senate Democrats have proposed $110 billion in spending cuts and tax increases: again, reducing oil subsidies (though not as much as the House Dems), ending the deduction businesses take for moving jobs overseas and trimming the defense budget and farm subsidies.
I’ve asked some Republicans sources to explain their thinking to me. But none of the answers quite seems to add up.Julian Zelizer at CNN:
The spending cuts pose a significant political threat to Republicans, more so than to Democrats. Although many Republicans are standing firm, insisting that their party will be fine if the cuts go through, there are many reasons for the GOP, through a sober eye, to see the dangers that lay ahead.
The cuts could push congressional politics in a liberal direction and establish the foundation for solid Democratic gains in 2014.