February 25, 2013

“The Non-Existent Spending Cuts Wrought By The ‘Devastating’ Sequester”

Itself proposed by Presidential advisers and approved by Obama, who is now busy blaming the Republicans for having the temerity to adopt his plan — when he isn’t claiming that his plan wasn’t his plan at all.

Meanwhile, GOP House Speaker John Boehner is showing signs of desperation — mostly, because he can’t seem to find a way to surrender that doesn’t involve his once again caucusing with the Democrats, albeit by positioning himself to take on Obama’s dangerously draconian spending cuts.

Suggesting once again — as if it were needed — just how broken, twisted, hypocritical, and unrepresentative of its constituencies our federal government, in both parties, has become.

Bill Wilson, ALG:

Ordinarily spending debates in our nation’s capital can be scripted long before they unfold: Democrats accused Republicans of “divisive,” harsh” and “burdensome” cuts, while Republicans stride hurriedly past television cameras with not-so-bright looks on their faces.

Meanwhile the legacy press goes into overdrive exaggerating the impact of these “cuts” — demonizing any politician who dares to support them as the equivalent of a puppy murderer. At this point Republicans invariably cave under the pressure – and the burden of both parties’ bad decisions gets shifted even further onto future generations of taxpayers.


“Members of Congress who would otherwise like to cut spending know they’re going to take a beating from the media and special interests,” concludes The Cato Institute’s Tad DeHaven. “Few politicians are willing to take that heat. Fewer still can even articulate why spending cuts and smaller government are good.”


But the current debate over sequester — an across-the-board $85 billion reduction of budget authority which translates into just a $53.8 billion cut to outlays this fiscal year ending September 30 — is notable for both its unfounded hysteria as well as a surprising role reversal.

To recap, the sequester was originally supposed to total $109 billion — but lawmakers delayed its onset by two months during the fiscal cliff negotiations. Now U.S. President Barack Obama — who first proposed the sequester as part of the 2011 debt ceiling deal — wants to delay it again.

According to Obama, the sequester would represent “a huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole.” Obama’s White House has also referred to the sequester as “devastating,” saying its cuts would “imperil our economy, our national security (and) vital programs that middle class families depend on.”

Sounds frightening — but is it true? Of course not. According to The Wall Street Journal ”federal domestic discretionary spending soared by 84 percent with some agencies doubling and tripling their budgets” during Barack Obama’s first two years in office. In fact the sequester would scale back just one of every six dollars in discretionary spending increases since 2008 — hardly a “huge blow.” Also, discretionary spending in 2008 was already tremendously inflated — having increased by more than 60 percent over the previous eight years.

In other words this isn’t even really a cut — “devastating” or otherwise — it’s a modest growth rate reduction following years of unnecessary, embarrassing and unsustainable excesses.

Where the sequester debate deviates from the norm is in its dramatis personae. Unlike prior spending debates, the sequester features Republicans attempting to shift the onus for cutting government onto Obama. U.S. Speaker John Boehner has repeatedly referenced “the president’s sequester” while decrying its “harmful cuts.”

What hypocrisy. Obama and Boehner both supported the sequester as an excuse for yet another unsustainable run-up of our nation’s credit limit — which exhausted its latest $2.1 trillion increase last December (after less than seventeen months).

“The debt ceiling deal in 2011 was agreed to by Republicans and Democrats, and regardless of who came up with the sequester, they all voted for it,” U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan) said recently. “So, you can’t vote for something and, with a straight face, go blame the other guy for its existence in law.”

Exactly. Boehner and Obama’s game of “pin the tail on the sequester” ignores not only their shared support for the measure — but also their shared responsibility in overstating its impact.

More to the point it highlights the extent to which leaders of both parties in Washington, D.C. are abandoning taxpayers in order to curry favor with the legacy media and special interest establishment — both of which are dead set against any reduction in the size and scope of government.

[my emphases]

I’ve spoken of this before, but the evidence of Republicans’ having decided to play on the left’s playing field under their rules has never been more stark:  Boehner and the Republicans have now positioned themselves against spending cuts, which they hope to blame on Obama, who was never really serious about spending cuts, knowing as he did at the time that he would simply blame them on Republicans and then demagogue them into surrender.

That strategy is well underway, and Boehner’s pathetic attempt to suggest that it is the Democrats who are the party of cutting government — which Americans want, but which isn’t happening here regardless of what anyone says — is a shortsighted, boneheaded strategy that seeks to put a stake into the heart of the principles-based message of the conservative base.

Yet again, Boehner and the establishment GOP are playing a political game with what should be a principled fight, and once again they have positioned themselves so poorly in the long run — the Dems can point to the Republicans complaining about how it was Obama who was trying to cut the size of government, and the media will recall that while bracketing Obama’s own hysterical and fear-mongering complaints, painting the Democrats as the party of fiscal conservatism, albeit one that seeks a balanced approach that includes tax hikes to balance the spending cuts that the GOP leadership found so “harmful” — that it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to believe that they aren’t throwing these fights intentionally.

Because really, it’s hard to imagine the Party leadership being any more imbecilic and short-sighted.

If the GOP gives up being the party of small government — and a lot of their consultants and “moderates” are preaching they do just that — all they’ll have left is that they are the party of white people, albeit white people who care about you every bit as much as the Democrats do, cross their hearts and hope to die!

It’s revolting.  And further evidence that the GOP is moribund.

No wonder Rove, et al., are so committed to rebranding themselves as the new “conservatives.”  They need to hide what they are in order to extend their influence, because so far what they’ve managed to do is entrench the New Left and completely fragment the right by alienating the base and becoming, as Angelo Codevilla put it, junior partners in the permanent ruling elite.

— Which is what someone should scrawl across Rove’s white board right before they shove it length-wise up his puckered pragmatic squeakhole.



Posted by Jeff G. @ 12:50pm

Comments (31)

  1. The White House claims sequestration will cost the National Drug Intelligence Center $2 million. The National Drug Intelligence Center was closed in June.


  2. Rove, Boehner, Cantor, Kirk, et al = Spoils Republicans, resurrecting in themselves the worthless “Cotton Whigs” of the 1850s.

  3. To suggest that demagogues demagogically die would be to question the self-regard of the demos, which has a great love of the demagogue, not to be undone by the demagogue himself, even. It would be to question an expression of the demos’s own self-love entire.

    Or if that were unwound — disentangled, so to speak — it would be to impugn the self-love of the demos as though that self-love were a kind of self-hatred. But the poor demos (we say not hoi polloi) suffers ever to be impugned. It’s with sadness one notes that the cure of their suffering should have been rejected by means of their own electoral decisions.

    Found on the low and solid, it was said, and stability with prosperity will be the reward. It begins to seem that even the low and solid (protection against the fear of violent death!) isn’t a sufficient protection from the power of fear, despite FDR’s forgotten warnings. Such are the benefits of progress.

  4. A blatant example of waste and overspending: Here in MA, we had a chemist at the state drug lab falsify drug case test results – thousands of them over 10 years – she basically wasn’t doing the testing, just the paperwork. When they caught on, they suspended her, and put all the other people doing the same kind of testing at that lab on paid administrative leave while the “complete” investigation is done. Now, 11 months or so later, they want approximately $1 million to hire other testers, while those initial testers still sit on paid leave which has also cost almost $1 million (with no sign or hint of wrong-doing on their part). Why couldn’t they have been re-assigned to other labs with no known issues? Of course, they’ll NEED those extra techs to retest all those samples, plus the backlog from being down all those tech for a year….

  5. Somehow I can see this coming around 6 or 8 weeks from now with Republicans asking .. “what happened to those draconian cuts ?”

  6. GOP presser right now on Faux.

  7. Gist: Yo! Obama, the ball’s in your court.

  8. U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-Michigan)

    My Congressman. Since I was put into a new district as of this past election I’m still learning what he’s about.

  9. We’re also still learning at the Federal level, if fruitlessly as to any specificity:

    *** “. . . and with that what I want to do is clear out the press so that we can take some questions. Alright?” ***

  10. Just glanced at his facebook, geoff. Looks like a pretty good dude.

  11. Amash is a baby at 32.

    I’m have anew congresscritter, too. Markwayne Mullin, he’s youngster, too. That or I’m just getting old.

  12. Via Insty, Driscoll, who returns to Reynolds talking with Russ Roberts on the logic of Seidman’s “Let’s Give Up the Constitution”:

    *** Reynolds: [. . .] Here’s the problem with public officials — because that’s really [Seidman’s] audience — deciding to ignore the Constitution: If you’re the president, if you’re a member of Congress, if you are a TSA agent, the only reason why somebody should listen to what you say, instead of horsewhipping you out of town for your impertinence, is because you exercise power via the Constitution. If the Constitution doesn’t count, you don’t have any legitimate power. You’re a thief, a brigand, an officious busybody, somebody who should be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail for trying to exercise power you don’t possess.

    So if we’re going to start ignoring the Constitution, I’m fine with that. The first part I’m going to start ignoring is the part that says, I have to do whatever they say. ***

  13. Itself proposed by Presidential advisers and approved by Obama, who is now busy blaming the Republicans for having the temerity to adopt his plan — when he isn’t claiming that his plan wasn’t his plan at all.

    Is this that “whipsaw” thing I read about once?

  14. Now officially dangerously unserious. O-boy.

  15. Hint for the annoyed:

    Blocking “http://platform.twitter.com/*” seriously speeds up page loading.

  16. black american history month

    [States] should (a) urge immediate repeal of the Federal income tax and finance government by a single levy upon the states, and urge that they handle all such things as social security, insurance and pensions, thus automatically reducing Federal personnel, expenses and authority.

    They should (b) urge reduction of Federal “take” to customs and eliminate all the nuisance taxes on jewelry, amusements, travel, liquor, tobacco, etc., thus immediately reducing the cost of these items. … This would also reduce personnel and authority of Federal agencies.


  17. How to clear the room of Government officials like Jay Carney?

    Ask them questions

  18. He, Amash, is good on the fiscal side but not as good on the 2nd Amendment with an NRA rating of 58%. Not too sure what he will do this session in regards to the 2nd. I keep writing to push him to my view.

  19. Every dollar in the budget is of vital importance. Well, there isn’t a budget, but if there were, we would need to spend every dollar. I mean, every dollar in the budget, not every dollar there is.

    That would be foolish.

  20. We could just print more, cranky, if we did.

  21. I saw briefly on the Faux News tonight that there is a Department of Drug Intelligence (cognitive dissonance, anyone?) that is no longer in operation, yet has a budget of $20M or B which will suffer a cut of 20%.

    Even though it doesn’t exist. We need an audit, STAT.

  22. I hope the Repubics cave.

  23. We are already spending every dollar there is, cranky, and whole lot more that there ain’t.

  24. Then we need to print more.

  25. Am I alone in thinking that the “stimulus” would have done a lot more for the economy if they’d just printed a $60,000 check and mailed one to everybody in the country?

  26. Nope. I’ve thought that often.

  27. sequestration means never having to say you’re sorry

  28. I’m starting to wonder if the terrorists wouldn’t have managed the government better than the current gang of idiots (apologies to the editorial staff of Mad magazine).