Barack Obama

Bipartisanship Lives! McCain Working With Obama to Jack Up Defense Spending and Taxes


Would be so much happier if that was a bowl of peach slices. ||| Pete Souza, White House
Pete Souza, White House

TPM has published valentine to Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) for becoming President Barack Obama's best new pal in circumventing obstructionist Republicans:

[A]s the White House and members of Congress prepare for a potentially ugly battle to keep government open and continue paying its bills this fall, Democratic leaders see McCain as a pivotal figure in their effort to reach a compromise and force tea party conservatives to stop holding routine government funding and debt ceiling bills hostage.

I understand why Democrats and their fans would be tickled by these developments. I just wonder how they would have felt five years ago if you would have told them that they'd be cheering on a bipartisan deal between the then-presidential rivals to jack up defense spending:

"Senator McCain is the Senate Republican leadership's worst nightmare," said a senior Democratic aide, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record. "He is very interested in fixing sequestration, he has railed against the tax loopholes, he is clearly not afraid to defy them when he thinks it's the right thing to do, and he takes 10 Republican members with him. We definitely see him as an important part of the path forward on a budget deal."

McCain's desire for a budget agreement is motivated by one of his biggest policy priorities: Protecting the Pentagon. The military budget is set to take a major hit due to the across-the-board budget cuts enacted in 2011, and pragmatists like him recognize that the only politically feasible way to undo the so-called sequester is to replace it with a mix of targeted spending cuts and new revenues. That's a key reason for McCain's alienation from the tea party, which has blocked a budget accord that includes so much as a penny in new tax revenue.

Emphases mine. As we have seen in sharp relief this week, there is a natural bipartisanship in Washington that elevates above all other values the writing of a blank check to the National Security State. Until there are more Justin Amashes and Ron Wydens, and fewer John McCains and Barack Obamas, we will continue seeing these kinds of grotesque contortions for the preservation of power.