Why Republicans Are Bungling the Sequestration Debate

Republicans in Congress lack a narrative to counter further government spending.

America is fed up with GOP obstructionism. So undoubtedly, everyone is hopeful that Republicans will allow President Barack Obama's sequestration plans to proceed unhindered. It's only right.

The GOP, in fact, should quit while it's ahead. Rather than penning editorials and appearing on Sunday morning talk shows to try to pin the blame on others, leadership would be far better off simply saying: "Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for dreaming up a plan that implements some minimal spending cuts. Thanks for signing it into law. It's not much, but we sure appreciate it."

It's been a while since the GOP held the upper hand in any skirmish, and this situation holds the special distinction of asking nothing of Republicans—a tactic that meshes well with their present skill set. No arguing over "revenue." No threat of a government shutdown. No default. No need for a protracted surrender.

How will it play out? "Are you willing to see a bunch of first responders lose their job? ... Are you willing to have teachers laid off or kids not have access to Head Start?" asks the president. Don't forget firemen, TSA agents, and mental health workers—a chilling proposition if any of it were true. We're about a week away from a White House press release warning that sequestration would mean your kid's disabled preschool teacher would have her wheelchair repossessed.

This scaremongering shows not only that Obama isn't serious about deficit spending or reform but that he believes his skill and perpetual campaign machine is enough to persuade the public—and consequently the House—to see it his way. This time, he may be wrong.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, we're actually looking at a $44 billion spending reduction in 2013—or reducing what the federal government planned to budget this year by 1.5 percent. So it's a cut that would total 0.5 percent of gross domestic product. Does the average American believe that living without a week's worth of government spending would crush civilization? Does anyone? Notwithstanding Obama's contention, not a single penny has been cut by his administration. So when Obama claims that the sequester cuts would take a "meat cleaver" to government, he's arguing that even a modest reduction in future spending could devastate the economy. Does that fly?

Republicans can mess this up, of course, by creating confusion about their own position. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week, House Speaker John Boehner makes a confused argument that cutting is "ugly and dangerous." Does any fiscal conservative really believe that carving out $44 billion of a $3.8 trillion budget is dangerous? And Sen. John McCain argues that sequester would be a "devastating" blow to America's security. As a political matter, a willingness to slightly reduce spending across the board could only add credibility to the GOP's argument on spending. If cutting $500 billion from the Pentagon budget over a decade means ruin, hey, we're already ruined.

No, the ham-fisted sequester cuts would not be the optimal way to trim spending, but it's the best available plan—the only plan, really. If there are ways to prioritize these reductions that make more sense, Republicans should join that conversation. If Democrats would rather reform entitlement programs, that's an even more productive discussion. But it's unlikely. Sequestration is likely the best opportunity to slow spending growth that conservatives are going to see over the next four years.

So just thank the president for his superb work, and move on.

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  • Tony||

    Does any resulting slowing of economic growth or uptick in unemployment get to be blamed on Obama too?

  • WTF||

    Well, since he's escaped blame for all of the slowing of economic growth and high unemployment for the past 4+ years, I would guess not.

  • Tony||

    Which would seem to be appropriate considering the economy does not reset to a healthy baseline just because a new president is elected.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Translation: It's Bush's fault! (But ya'll knew that, already.)

  • Doctor Whom||

    It'll be Bush's fault until the heat death of the universe, which will also be Bush's fault (or maybe a market failure).

  • Loki||

    Entropy is a vast right wing conspiracy, as are all the laws of thermodynamics.

  • ||

    It'll be both Bush's fault and the greater Republican party for not putting enough stimulus out to fend off the end of the Universe through job creation and infrastructure grants.

  • WTF||

    So, after one full term plus of Obama's policies, it's all still BOOSH's fault? Holy shit, you're a stupid, disingenuous twat. Or gang of twats, you fucking sockpuppet.

  • Tony||

    Explain what role Barack Obama played in causing the 2008- financial crisis and recession.

  • sarcasmic||

    STRAW MAN LOOMS!

  • WTF||

    Explain what Bush policies caused the recession and how they did so, and what Obama did to repeal them, assmunch.

  • Tony||

    I didn't say Bush was responsible, but if we're going to simplify the matter of blame to "whoever was president when the major causes of the economic conditions occurred," then that would have to be Bush.

    Obama and his Congresses could have done more to improve the state of the economy. But it would require government "doing things." This being probably the least productive Congress in history, libertarians should be as happy as they've ever been. Instead they're bitching that Obama hasn't done enough governmenting to fix the economy. Strange world.

  • WTF||

    Instead they're bitching that Obama hasn't done enough governmenting to fix the economy.

    No, dumbass, we're bitching because he's doing too much governmenting and is strangling the fucking economy. But you knew that already, you disingenuous fuck.

  • sarcasmic||

    Obama and his Congresses could have done more to improve the state of the economy. But it would require government "doing things."

    All the government has to do to improve the economy is get out of the way. That's it. Just get out of the way and let people engage in economic activity.

    I would like to improve the economy by selling my beer to local watering holes. However there are a myriad of state and federal regulations I cannot afford to comply with, and even if I could the town council would never permit a brewery.

    Government does not improve the economy by "doing things." It improves the economy by allowing the millions of individuals who comprise the economy to do things.

  • WTF||

    The Tonys of the world cannot comprehend this. To them, without the heavy hand of givernment to direct things, there would be CHAOS, SOMALIA!!11!!!

  • Tony||

    Government has gotten out of the way. It's essentially paralyzed.

    But you don't really want that--you want it to do a bunch of legislating so it can repeal those pesky laws and regulations you think hobble economic growth. You have a robust agenda for government. Because if government just "getting out of the way" is what you want, welcome to libertopia.

  • Randian||

    I fail to see how 3 trillion dollars a year in spending and a big new entitlement program constitutes "getting out of the way"

  • phandaal||

    http://cei.org/10kc

    Libertopia. Right.

  • WTF||

    If the offending regulations and restrictions are not repealed, government is not getting out of the way. I refuse to believe any real person is this fucking stupid.

  • sarcasmic||

    If the offending regulations and restrictions are not repealed, government is not getting out of the way. I refuse to believe any real person is this fucking stupid.

    Remember that this is the guy who thinks inaction is action, that not giving it taking, that not taking is giving. Nothing is something. Silence is sound. Dark is light. Vacuum is mass. Cold is heat.

    He really is that stupid.

  • Zeb||

    Government has gotten out of the way. It's essentially paralyzed.

    Holy fucking shit, that is a ridiculous statement. So the regulations preventing sarcasmic from selling his beer to willing buyers is gone? The myriad other regulations that make it very difficult to start a small business or market a new product are gone?

    Government is not congress. Getting government out of the way means removing the obstacles that legislatures have already put in place which are hindering economic growth.

  • Free Society||

    please tell me how the most revenue hungry political machine in world is getting out of the way.

  • DarrenM||

    All the government has to do to improve the economy is get out of the way.

    But that would be a devastating blow to their self-image.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    You mean it would require Obama and Congress NOT doing something.

    FTFY

  • ||

    Explain what role Barack Obama played in causing the 2008- financial crisis and recession.

    Explain how not spending $44 billion you don't have will cause an uptick in unemployment or a slowing in economic growth. Better yet, since the initial logical fallacy is childish, I'll ask a question a child could answer: What do you think happens to money (borrowed or otherwise) that doesn't get spent by the government?

  • Tony||

    Maybe it will, maybe it won't. I'm just curious if Obama will get the blame if it does happen, since he's against the sequester.

  • Randian||

    He's so against it that he signed it.

    Right.

  • Tony||

    Under the assumption that everyone was against it actually happening.

    Now Republicans are in overdrive in a pathetic attempt to blame it all on Obama, when the real blame is on Republicans' inability to legislate like adult human beings.

  • WTF||

    When was the last time Obama submitted an actual budget?

    "The President, in accordance with the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, must submit a budget to Congress each year."

    Yet it's the Republicans who won't legislate like adults.

  • fish||

    Now Republicans are in overdrive in a pathetic attempt to blame it all on Obama, when the real blame is on Republicans' inability to legislate like adult human beings.

    You're funny!

    To you life really is just like "Boys State"! It's all about the "legislatin"....with the mere application of ink to paper magically curing all the countries ills.

    Like I said, you're funny.

    Now where is the real T o n y S o c k p u p p e t? I miss his shrill frantic girlfriend-like devotion to the president...you're too cool in your responses to be reasons favorite troll!

  • Randian||

    Now Republicans are in overdrive in a pathetic attempt to blame it all on Obama, when the real blame is on Republicans' inability to legislate like adult human beings.

    It's pretty evident that the Senate and the President have not been inclined to press on about a budget because they don't want to deal with the political consequences.

    Is there something wrong with conference committees? Just asking.

  • phandaal||

    Because if Bush did something wrong then it completely exonerates all of the current President's actions. Furthermore, it's impossible to disagree with both men. Yup. Airtight logic there.

  • Rasilio||

    Explain any action which Obama has taken or even attempted to take which has in any way shape or form served to improve the economy.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Explain what role Barack Obama played in causing the 2008- financial crisis and recession.

    As a community organizer he helped push the CRA envelope which ultimately caused the credit bubble of Bush's term.

    As you said upthread, the economy didn't reset to a healthy state when Bush was elected. Rather, the credit bubble was a multi variable problem with roots going back to the 90s.

    And Obama personally and directly helped one of those roots to take hold.

  • Calidissident||

    The recession started more than five years ago. The financial crisis was over four years ago. The recession ended nearly four years ago. This has been a historically weak recovery

  • Tony||

    As nearly perfectly predicted by Keynesians. They have an explanation: not enough stimulus. The other camp can't even describe a mechanism for how their policies would improve the economy.

  • Alex the wolf||

    Not enough stimulus? Are you aware of 4 years with more than 1 trillion dollar deficits? The fed printing money like maniacs?

    And the problem is not enough stimulus?

    How about uncertainty created by a president who is always talking class warfare?

  • Harun||

    He was a Senator. Did he vote for Bush's plan to reign in Fanny and Freddy?

  • ||

    Notice that missing from the Tony narrative are all of captain zero's promises of lowering unemployment and economic uptick....or...him being a one termer. He is in for another four and the economy is fucked for another four.

    The economy is in the shitter and will stay there as long as the socialists are in charge. It is a no-brainer.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's more than that. It's to a point where no matter who is in charge, the economy will remain in the shitter. Not unless someone gets in there and starts rolling back legislation and regulation that prevents economic activity. But that's never going to happen. The solution to bad rules is always more bad rules.

    So it really doesn't matter. We're fucked no matter what.

  • ||

    Notice that, once again, no reply from 'shit-for-brains' Tony.

    He tries to defend the indefensible, we point it out, he gets silent. Later he will be back with the same line of bullshit.

    What a tiresome idiot.

  • Tony||

    I'm not responding to you, Drudge zombie. Wookie? Faggot? Really? You expect me to respond to you?

  • phandaal||

    You could try responding to someone else. I don't see why you'd want to, since your arguments consist of nonsense, but you could.

  • ||

    I think what I said is that I expect you not to respond.
    It makes no difference if you do or not shithook, you lie like we all breath.

  • ||

    How many years does Obumbler have to be in office before he can be held accountable?

    I can see you, if the dems stay in office another 40 years still vomiting the same bullshit...Bush.

    Pathetic socialists are pathetic.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Well, if Obama is too overwhelmed to improve anything, then I suppose he should resign, huh?

  • ||

    The wookie would kick his faggot ass if he made her give up the million dollar vacations on our dime....so....not gonna happen.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm fine with a paid vacation for the next four years.

  • ||

    As I predicted Tony fixated on the absurd ad hominem aspects and completely ignored the valid points.

    Hey Tony, go drink a cup of drano.

  • Tony||

    Stop behaving like an walking embarrassment to humanity and I might respond to you.

  • ||

    Is it just me or does Tony think that every criticism of the current administration (and party by association and complicity) somehow equate to a slobbering kiss for the Republicans?

    Is binary all he thinks in?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    1

  • Tony||

    So why is it so monumentally difficult to get anyone here to blame Bush for any of the Bush disasters?

  • mgd||

    If you pick a Bush disaster, I'm sure most of the regulars here will be more than happy to place blame where it belongs. What did you have in mind?

  • KPres||

    Does any resulting slowing of economic growth or uptick in unemployment get to be blamed on Obama too?

    Well, without the stimulus, unemployment would be 5.5% right now. At least, that's what Obama told us.

  • Doctor Whom||

    Things were worse than Jesus 2.0 knew. "Knew," "could have known," and "was willing to admit knowing" are all synonyms. On everything else, he is still trustworthy.

  • WTF||

    No arguing over "revenue." No threat of a government shutdown. No default. No need for a protracted surrender.

    Don't worry, the Republicans will fuck it up. They're not called the Stupid Party for nothing.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Boehner is on the case!

  • LTC(ret) John||

    and this situation holds the special distinction of asking nothing of Republicans—a tactic that meshes well with their present skill set.

    That did make me laugh the dry, cynical laugh that used to be heard only from behind-the-Iron-Curtain denizens.

  • Pro Libertate||

    "No, fuck you, cut spending."

    It's easy to blame the GOP when they're doing jackshit. What they should be doing is focusing on cutting spending across the board. Real cuts. And, no, screw any attempts to increase taxes.

  • ||

    They are caving on the magazine limit. In the end they cave on everything because in reality they are on board with it. They just cant admit that to their constituency.

    What was it that Voltaire said about admirals and encouragement?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Statist is as statist does.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    "And, no, screw any attempts to increase taxes."

    Too late - those already went through... wait, more increases you say?! Gah! Too early, and I am at work, so I cannot seek solace in whisky.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Yes, no more. I'd like to undo most taxes, but you know they'll never do that without more public outcry.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Because if they cut the busget they can only cut first responders and teachers. There is no other money in the government to cut. There are plenty alternatives to across the board cutting. Quite frankliy though you could do across the baord cuts at a much higher rate than 1.5% without a problem.

    http://www.humanevents.com/201.....th-stupid/

  • Brett L||

    This is my thought. 1% across the board cuts until the budget balances, then they can reallocate.

  • Doctor Whom||

    They cut the most visible things first so that the sheeple will say, "Holy Government, forgive us for doubting You."

  • sarcasmic||

    Meanwhile office building after office building filled with napping bureaucrats remain untouched.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    That porn ain't gonna watch itself now, is it?!

    /SEC

  • Loki||

    In effect, the 2011 law was written to protect waste — so that if the sequester cuts happened, only the dumbest cuts would follow.

    Of course was. One congresscritter's "waste" is another's "valuable indespensable program" (that just happens to include lots of spending in their district). It's all just a bunch of Kabuki theater really. In the end nothing will be cut and we'll just continue to hurtle headlong into the abyss.

  • ||

    I can't understand what they think their strategy is supposed to be.
    All they have to do is point out that Obama has refused to put entitlement reform on the table.

    The sequester was meant to force congress to come to a serious agreement on deficit reduction, including entitlement reform. But the Democrats have refused to put entitlement reform on the table.

    Now they want to cancel the sequester without doing anything about spending period. How does all of that not work in the Republicans favor?

    Why in hell would they want to blame Obama for cutting spending? It makes no sense?

  • JJK||

    ineptitude runs rampant on both sides of the aisle unfortunately..

  • Outlaw||

    They are the faux opposition.

  • JJK||

    This is what drives me nuts about the GOP. They don't even know how to take credit when they "win" an issue, and instead will come out looking like the asses

  • DenverJay||

    The truth is, most of the people in this country do not follow politics all that closely. They hear what the nightly news tells them, and that is all they know. So the media says "fiscal cliff" instead of "smaller increase", and the Republican'ts surrender. The media says "Sequester is Republican'ts baby", and the truth doesn't matter, the Republican'ts own it. As long as the media is controlled by the extreme left, this country is doomed.

  • Kurbster||

    It's unrealistic to think that the neocons (aka. Republican Party) would be willing to go through with any cuts to their military complex. Even if going through with the sequestration could possibly hurt the Democrats more, the neocons can't see past their warmongering.

    Both parties have an interest in fighting against any kind of balanced cutting approach that involves both social programs and the military. "Fiscal Conservatives", my ass.

  • Faithful34||

    like Francisco explained I'm shocked that a single mom can earn $4886 in four weeks on the internet. did you look at this web link http://WWW.FLY38.COM

  • azwi||

    Because the Republicans let John McCain be their spokesman! McCain is not only unqualified but he just a bitter old warmonger.

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