Surprise: The Boehner/GOP Alternative to Sequester is More Spending!


courtesy ABC News

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a strongly worded opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal denouncing President Obama's attempts to shelve the sequester in favor of more spending and tax hikes. Here's a snippet:

The sequester is a wave of deep spending cuts scheduled to hit on March 1. Unless Congress acts, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will occur this year, with another $1.1 trillion coming over the next decade. There is nothing wrong with cutting spending that much—we should be cutting even more—but the sequester is an ugly and dangerous way to do it.

By law, the sequester focuses on the narrow portion of the budget that funds the operating accounts for federal agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense…. Should the sequester take effect, America's military budget would be slashed nearly half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Border security, law enforcement, aviation safety and many other programs would all have diminished resources.

As I noted yesterday, this $85 billion figure is baloney. Only about $44 billion of the sequester's planned cuts would take place in 2013; the rest would take place in future years (if at all). To put that in perspective, $44 billion is roughly 1.2 percent of expected total federal spending in 2013, which will be higher than overall spending in 2012. The government is spending around $3.5 trillion a year, give or take a few billions.

It's worth asking Boehner a simple question: If "we should be cutting even more" spending than the sequester seems to do, why the hell does last year's GOP-approved budget plan increase year-over-year spending every year between 2014 and 2022? As table S-1 shows, after a small trim from 2013 to 2014, total annual outlays would grow (in current dollars) from $3.5 trillion in 2014 to $4.9 trillion in 2022.

courtesy Jennerjahn Report

In the Journal, Boehner tells the president that he's happy to come to an arrangement in which the sequester cuts are swapped for specifc trims. Indeed, he avers:

House Republicans have twice passed plans to replace the sequester with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect national security.

Whole Journal piece here.

This is at best misleading and at worst mendacious. The bills to which Boehner is referring are H.R. 5562 and H.R. 6684 (the latter being an updated version of the former). H.R. 6684—known as "The Spending Reduction Act of 2012"—does exempt military spending from any cuts. But it doesn't reduce spending this year or next. Indeed, as the Congressional Budget Office reports, it increases spending by $48 billion in 2013 and $11 billion in 2014 before a number of slight reductions kick in during 2015-2022.

It also increases taxes ("revenues") by $98 billion over 10 years, something the tax-averse Boehner fails to crow about (he may not be confident of those revenue streams since they come from better "oversight and government reform," a catchall category that never seems to deliver on its promises). Go to page 2 of this document to check it all out.

H.R. 6684's fake spending reduction is the reason why Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) voted no, writing at his Facebook page, "Contrary to its title, the bill increases spending and debt by tens of billions of dollars."

It's a good thing that fewer and fewer people deny that "we've got a spending problem." Sadly, that recognition hasn't exactly swelled the ranks of those who are trying to do something about it.

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48 responses to “Surprise: The Boehner/GOP Alternative to Sequester is More Spending!

  1. Sigh. “No, fuck you, cut spending.”

    1. This plan of yours is too complex. It would never work.

      1. Cut spending. Not reduce increases in spending. Not tax the fuck out of people already paying more of their income than serfs paid their manor lords. Not more deficits.

        No more fucking scams, please.

        1. Even more restrictions? My god, could you make this thing any harder to comprehend?

          1. I could make it easier: No spending.

            1. I think you’re speaking in tongues now.

              1. Imagine no spending. It’s easy if you try.

                1. I’m imagining it. All I see are kindly grandmothers being thrown over cliffs into dark and stormy waters and crashing on the rocks while babes and teh children shriek in agony as a maniacal bad man with a top hat and monocle straps them to a nonoperation high speed rail track.

                  1. Okay, I’m willing to compromise. Cut spending by 50%. The fifty you cut can screw over young adults and white males.

  2. I don’t envy Boehner. The way the demographics and ideology of the GOP are right now, he has to cut spending without touching anything involved with “national security”. Oh, and keep Social Security and Medicare “fully funded”.

    He’s rearranging deck chairs because his base explicitly refuses to fix the holes the iceberg punched into the steel.

    1. Cut spending! Just don’t cut that! Or that! Nope, leave that alone! Don’t cut that either! Why won’t you cuts spending already?!?

      1. Seriously, why not a ten percent cut across the board? That doesn’t necessarily translate into cuts in actual military capacity or welfare funding, as there are other areas where those cuts could be made in those departments.

        1. eventually, you have to get to the entitlements because those are the big growth areas. Comes back to no one in DC wants to cut anything. Ever. The Dems don’t even make a pretense to the contrary.

          1. And the only way it stops is a) the financial markets wake up and stop buying our paper and b) fed can no longer continue buying it instead and printing money.

        2. That doesn’t necessarily translate into cuts in actual military capacity or welfare funding,

          If we lived on a planet where politicians and bureaucrats were concerned with the public welfare and acted wtih probity and honesty, yes.

          However, on this planet, well, the whole point is to make any cut, no matter how trivial, as painful as possible to train the body politic to stop asking for cuts.

          1. However, on this planet, well, the whole point is to make any cut, no matter how trivial, as painful as possible to train the body politic to stop asking for cuts.

            Right, which is why the first thing to get cut is ambulances and fire trucks, rather than the guy who takes pictures of ambulances and fire trucks.

  3. “at best misleading and at worst mendacious”

    Nice phrase, Nick. Please consider using it every time you mention a politician.

    1. It’s a good sentence, but I’m not sure mendacious is the worst alternative. Mendacious is more like the most appropriate, downright fucking scam is the worst I’d say.

  4. no one in DC wants to cut spending. Period. Exclamation point. And most of the public only likes the notion of cuts in the abstract, as in “cuts sound good as long I keep my unicorn.”

    Doesn’t work that way. Slowing this train will affect all riders. You can’t talk about cuts when the talk is couched amid sacred cows.

  5. In government if you want a five percent raise and your paycheck increases by only four percent, you just received a one percent pay cut.

  6. Boehner and the GOP are pissing themselves over the idea that they will be blamed for bringing about the End of Days. Boehner especially gets a boner over the idea of making a deal – any deal – with the White House.

  7. “Shrink the government?”

    Read this in the voice of Hot Lips Houlihan, wailing, “MY COMMISSION! RESIGN MY COMMISSION?!”

    1. You’re right. Since this is political impossible, I suggest a plenipotentiary committee that has total and absolute budget-cutting authority.

      1. Made up of people not in the government, of course.

  8. The sequester is a wave of deep spending cuts

    That’s as far as I got.


    “Sir, your letter states that you want Titan to start a discussion. How stupid do you think we are? Titan is the one with the money and the talent to produce tyres. What does the crazy union have? It has the French government,” Mr Taylor wrote.

    The Titan boss, who made an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination in the 1996 presidential election…

    1. How can anyone trust a news organization that can’t even spell the word “tires”? Fucking Brits act like they invented the language or something.

    2. That letter was hilarious! The Titan CEO will no doubt be hounded out of business, at least in France. This has been the French governments response so far:

      “In the meantime, rest assured that you can count on me to have the competent government agencies survey your imported tires with a redoubled zeal.”

  10. Here’s a hint, oh Heap Big Oompa Loompa Chief.

    “Waste, fraud and abuse” is not people at the Small Business Administration using too many staples and paper clips, or people at Treasury taking pens home.

    The TSA is WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE. Fannie May, Freddie Mac and Sallie Mae are waste, fraud and abuse. The FCC is waste, fraud and abuse.

  11. I suggest a plenipotentiary committee that has total and absolute budget-cutting authority.

    As part of our cost cutting efforts, we need to reduce future unfunded pension liabilities. Therefor, rather than laying government employees off in the traditional manner we will be sending teams to randomly execute people at their desks. Because National Security.

  12. Wolf Blitzer interviewing Rand Paul about the sequester:

    1. Nice to see Rand campaigning for the apple fanboy vote with the Jobsian black turtleneck.

      1. Don’t know if the turtleneck will help or not, but if stays consistent he might turn out to be a damn good candidate in 2016.

        1. I think he’s a great candidate for the primaries and has some distinct advantages for a general election. He’s smart, well spoken, seems to have learned how to do media well, and certainly is the most libertarian of any legit national candidate.

          But I worry that his Kentucky twang will cost him among voters in certain coastal states that he might otherwise have a broader appeal. That is the most superficial reason to vote against a person, but the people that surround me in this hellhole of California are fucking superficial bigots.

          1. You’re fucking dreaming dude. There is nothing a diehard leftist loves more then pretending to be a moderate independent. They always have a reason to vote against the GOP. Bush was stupid, McCain was crazy, Mitt was evil.

            These people don’t look at the issues or positions. Obama is a stylistic choice for them, first and foremost.

  13. It’s all theater to get us to vote for their guy. Whats a person to do when the Republicans say they will do one thing but continue to placate the left and the media by voting with the democrats and big government. This makes the republicans more abhorent than the democrats because at least the Democrats follow thru with what they say they will do. There all RINO’s and thats one of the many reasons why Romney lost.

  14. This is at best misleading and at worst mendacious complete and utter bullshit.


  15. Interesting moment last night when Bowles and Simpson were being interviewed on, I think it was Fox.

    They got around to the part where spending was going to need to be cut, and all of a sudden, Bowles lost the ability to say the words
    “spending” and “cut”. Instead, there was this flow of argle-bargle about making SocSec sustainable, etc etc. It is, apparently, impossible to say (and likely to think) the words “spending cut” after you have been immersed in Beltway-think for any length of time.

    1. Sustainable investment in nongovernmental growth.

    2. I know the people in power are idiots, but even an idiot can clearly see the writing on the wall and the dire consequences of a failure to act.

      About the only thing I can think is that Boehner doesn’t want to do anything that gets his GOP blamed over the next four years. He’ll let Obama own this sinking ass ship for another four years in the hopes that a GOP candidate gets in four years hence. And if it’s Rubio, there still won’t be a single actual fucking cut. If by chance Rand ever gets the nomination and wins the general, he’ll be a one term president, but he’ll be the greatest one we’ve had in a 100 years.

      1. If by chance Rand ever gets the nomination and wins the general, he’ll be a one term president, but he’ll be the greatest one we’ve had in a 100 years.

        There was a anecdote, probably apocryphal, during this Ron Paul Presidential run, of a White House press photographer looking around the filled Press Room and commenting that, if Ron Paul won, 3/4 of the room would lose their jobs. Maybe President Rand would only cut that to 1/2, but it’s still enough to ensure the everlasting enmity of the MSM and the Republican establishment. Jesus, what is it now: 5 out of 6 or 10 of the richest counties in America are the ones surrounding D.C., when twenty years ago, it was maybe 1? All roads still lead to Rome, I guess.

        Anyway, Rand would never, repeat, never get the nomination. Not unless we were already crashing economically. Too bad, as I would be very interested in seeing a Rand Paul presidency.

  16. If only he cried money.

    1. I’m beginning to think the only hope we have is in capturing a resource rich asteroid and using it to finance the government. A big honking asteroid.

      1. You don’t fool me. You want to drop it on DC.

        1. If there really is a flying spaghetti monster, it will happen.

        2. No, they’ll probably manage that without my help. Besides, who would put me in charge of asteroid navigation?

  17. You don’t even need to do across-the-board cuts – there are 1000s upon thousands of useless paper pushing programs at all levels of government. On the shuttle this morning I overheard a Navy officer and a civilian talking about going to a meeting to “achieve consensus” on some white paper. A white paper that will probably never go anywhere and will be buried under other useless white papers. A white paper that probably several people got paid to write, several people got paid to distribute and several people got paid to discuss at various meetings.

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