February 28, 2013

“Why are Republicans running away from sequester?

So asks Bill Wilson of Americans for Limited Government.

But before I get to his answer, allow me to offer mine, in brief:  they don’t believe in limited government, and they are at war right with Obama to make sure he gets the “blame” for cutting the rate of spending some insignificant amount — all because his threats to make the cuts needlessly and sadistically painful for ordinary Americans has convinced the GOP to abandon its entire base, who actually applauds cutting government spending, particularly in an era of wild profligate spending, no budgets, constant calls for new revenues for government, and a trillion dollar “one-time-stimulus” about to be renewed for the 5th time as part of the baseline budget in a continuing resolution that almost certainly the GOP will again fold on.

Or, even more succinctly, because the GOP is about politics, not principles.  And while they lack the latter entirely, they haven’t the ability to compensate for it, sucking so badly as they do at the former.

It’s surreal, but here we are:  the GOP has positioned itself as the party that really really doesn’t want to cut government, but they’ve been forced into it because of a deal they made with Obama to resist tax hikes.

That is, they are aimless, confused, out-gunned pseudo-pragmatists.  And, of course, weepy pussies of the highest order.

There.  Someone had to say it.

Now back to Mr Wilson:

Sequestration may in fact have been Obama’s idea, but it was brought to the floor in the House of Representatives not once, but twice by Republican leaders. There, it was approved not once, but twice. In the Senate it passed easily with bipartisan support.

If Republicans didn’t like the Budget Control Act, they should have stuck with Cut, Cap, and Balance and passed the Full Faith and Credit Act — legislation that would have prioritized payments to our creditors, the military, Social Security and Medicare had the then-$14.294 trillion debt ceiling been reached — in order take Obama’s default threat off the table.

Instead, both Republicans and Democrats voted for the Budget Control Act, knowing full well that the so-called supercommittee it created would most certainly fail to achieve any agreement to cut spending. It was designed to fail. This whole idea that a grand bargain was somehow in the offing was pure fantasy.

Sequestration was always going to happenbecause that was the only way to guarantee there would be any cuts at all in return for increasing the debt ceiling by a record $2.1 trillion.

Republicans let it pass the House and Senate, and Obama signed it.

Recall, spending cuts were needed to keep our AAA credit rating, which we lost anyway — not because there was a debate about what to cut, or because ratings agencies are spiteful, but because they were saying $4 trillion of cuts were needed.

Even with sequestration, only $1.2 trillion of deficit reduction was ever included. In 2013, it will cut outlays by just $54 billion, or 1.5 percent. That’s really not that much in the great scheme of things.

Congress knew it needed $4 trillion of cuts. It had the ability to get it had members simply passed Cut, Cap, and Balance, but instead they ignored the ratings agencies warnings.

At the time, S&P wrote, “We expect the debt trajectory to continue increasing in the medium term if a medium-term fiscal consolidation plan of $4 trillion is not agreed upon. If Congress and the Administration reach an agreement of about $4 trillion, and if we to conclude that such an agreement would be enacted and maintained throughout the decade, we could, other things unchanged, affirm the ‘AAA’ long-term rating and A-1+ short-term ratings on the U.S.”

And then about the downgrade, S&P wrote, “The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.”

Clear as day. Congress failed to cut spending by $4 trillion, so we were downgraded. Yet, Republicans have managed to allow the false narrative to be peddled that somehow the downgrade came as a result of Congress’ attempts to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force the spending cuts. Total rubbish.

But nowhere will you see any of these facts reported, not because of media bias per se, but really because Republicans appear to be incapable of defending themselves. They never adequately explained what the credit downgrade was all about and in the process gave Obama a free, phony talking point.

Now today, they are not defending the sequester cuts, which minimally are necessary to even begin to get our fiscal house in order. Instead, congressional Republicans appear to care more about averting blame for spending cuts they campaigned on and voted for than with saving our nation from certain insolvency.

If the sequestration is removed, the country will likely be downgraded again — and deservedly so.

In the Senate, Republicans are circulating draft legislation that would “cancel $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts and instead turn over authority to President Barack Obama to achieve the same level of savings under a plan to be filed by March 8,” reports Politico.com.

So, after sequester goes into effect, rather than just letting the matter rest, Republicans want to pass legislation to let Obama pick and choose where he wants the cuts to occur. Why don’t we just name an emperor and be done with this charade of representation? First, Congress suspends the debt ceiling, now this.

Ironically, it may be something Obama already has the authority to do, if a Wall Street Journal editorial is to be believed: “Programs, projects and activities are a technical category of the federal budget, but the sequester actually occurs at the roughly 1,200 broader units known as budget accounts. Some accounts are small, but others contain hundreds of PPAs and the larger accounts run to billions of dollars… This means in most cases the President has the room to protect his ‘investments’ while managing the fiscal transition over time.”

Even if that is true, what a spectacular abdication of congressional appropriations powers to an all-powerful executive.

Either way, Republicans should be defending sequestration, not running away from it. If they cannot defend these cuts, much of it to discretionary spending, how do they ever intend to wrap their arms around the even-more-difficult-to-manage task of entitlement reform?

And there, yet again, is the fundamental misunderstanding that causes certain conservatives such consternation as a result: built into the question is the presumption that Republicans wish to legitimately slash the federal Leviathan, rather than act as temporary “junior partners” (to borrow Angelo Codevilla’s phrase) of the ruling class hierarchy, knowing that at some point an electoral pendulum swing is likely to leave them at the head of the trough, first in line to engage in crony capitalism, irresponsible spending, and the expansion of federal power.

Once one realizes this — that the entire dance is designed to leave the appearance of adversarial fights over spending, taxes, and budgets, without their being much in the way of differences between the aims of the two Parties at the establishment level — one is freed from wondering why it is the GOP does what it does to “lose” on all of these issues that would rein in government expansion.

There is a reason, after all, that Karl Rove and Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and Eric Cantor and many in the GOP mainstream target the TEA Party or conservatives far more aggressively than they ever do their Democrat opponents.

And it isn’t all deference to Obama’s “historical” position as the nation’s first-ever half-black golfer-in-chief.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:44am

Comments (16)

  1. Hell, the so-called “cuts” in the sequester aren’t even a pale imitation of a good start. They’re like the beverage Arthur Dent was given when he requested tea (in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy): Something that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

  2. I asked for a 20% raise, but only got a 7.5% raise. Only in the MFM could that ever become a 12.5% cut.

  3. We’re going to hell in a heavily-mortgaged handbasket.

  4. at some point an electoral pendulum swing is likely to leave them at the head of the trough, first in line to engage in crony capitalism, irresponsible spending, and the expansion of federal power.

    And with each swing the perpetrators push the envelope further than their predecessors did. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy a share of the culpability for a GOP that surpasses the Obamarrhoids for venality, corruption, and despotic ambition.

  5. “Why are Republicans running away…”

    Why do ducks float?


  7. It’s a fair quack.

  8. Just because a witch weighs the same as a duck, doesn’t mean that a duck is a witch.

  9. Hence, to chirpy, they all are.

  10. Maxine Waters sez that sequestration will cost us eleventeen bazillion jobs if it goes through.

  11. I asked for a 20% raise, but only got a 7.5% raise. Only in the MFM could that ever become a 12.5% cut.

    I’m pretty sure they’d call it a 62.5% cut, being as how you only got 37.5% of the raise you asked for. MATH!

  12. I just noticed a post by National Review On-Line contributor Charles C. W. Cooke about House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Water’s obvious slip of the tongue (she accidentally said 170 million , when she meant 170 thousand) when referring to the number of jobs that may be lost as a result of sequestration.

    I think this was below your standards, and hope you’ll reconsider the post.

    Eric Orner

    Deputy Communications Director
    Financial Services Committee
    Representative Maxine Waters, Ranking Member


  13. So her own Deputy is saying Maxine doesn’t know what she’s talking about and the National Review should provide cover for her?

    Fuck off, Eric.

  14. I think this was below your standards, and hope you’ll reconsider the post

    How dare you accurately present Rep. Waters’ own words without performing any of the automatic reinterpretation, correction and obfuscation that our current crop of mentally feeble political figures (i.e. Rep. Waters, VP Biden, Rep. Pelosi) have come to depend on from the dependable, leg-humping, lapdog media.

    I said GOOD DAY, SIR!