3 days to sequestration: Republicans are on a frenzied, desperate messaging tour

#Obamaquester #Obamaquester dammit! #Obamaquester!!

Josh Marshall: “…the side begging and whining the most about sequester is unquestionably the side that thinks its losing.”

David Corn deflates the GOP’s latest “fall back” claim, which is: “The sequestration-defusing plan cooked up by the supercommittee was not supposed to have any tax revenue hikes in it. Consequently, the Republicans maintain, Obama is disingenuous now to call for side-stepping the sequestration with a “balanced” approach that includes spending cuts and revenues. Indeed, Boehner and other GOPers crowed at the time that the debt ceiling deal did not include any tax hikes. Yet the deal Boehner approved did nothing to limit the supercommittee to considering only cuts for a sequestration-ducking plan. The legislation did allow for the possibility of revenue boosts. In a fact sheet, the White House was explicit on this point, noting the supercommittee would ponder “both entitlement reform and revenue-raising tax reform.” And Boehner essentially acknowledged that at the time.”

Steve Benen on yesterday’s House Republican Leadership press conference: Each of the Republican lawmakers said President Obama was responsible for the sequester, which is ridiculous. Each of them said it’s up to Democrats to think of a way to make Republicans happy enough so that Republicans won’t hurt the country on purpose. Each of them said the House already voted to replace the sequester, hoping no one would notice that in the current Congress, GOP leaders haven’t even proposed, better yet voted on, a replacement. But consider this gem from the House Speaker: “Listen, the president says we have to have another tax increase in order to avoid the sequester. Well, Mr. President, you got your tax increase. It’s time to cut spending here in Washington.” I assume Boehner is smart enough to know how little sense this makes, which makes his comments an example of willful dishonesty. It’s true that policymakers accepted new revenue in 2012, but policymakers also cut spending by more than $1.2 trillion in 2011. Looking again at Boehner’s quote, it’s very easy to turn it around on him: “Well, Mr. Speaker, you got your spending cuts.”

Hunter / DailyKos on ‘Sequester here we come!’: The problem for Republicans, however, is that they’ve premised nearly all of their obsessive anti-Obama rhetoric around the notions that (1) the government can’t create jobs, (2) all government is bad, and (3) the scary deficit monster is going to kill us all. They can’t stomach voting to lift the sequester when that means acknowledging (1) that government does indeed employ lots of people, (2) it does indeed do stuff that their constituents like, and need, and (3) the deficit is in fact not currently as important as the more immediate task of not screwing up the tenuous national economy, because Basic Economics. You can hear them already in the early stages of talking-point disarray on the topic, but Republicans are supposed to be for harsh, painful cuts to government. That’s their brand. …So for Republicans, the only way to dodge the sequester is to fess up that their entire debt ceiling freakout, and all of their demands afterwards, and all of the loudest premises of their electoral existence in these last few campaigns were all mere bluff… Forget ideological integrity in these things: You have to acknowledge that even if the Republicans wanted to ditch every austerian, anti-legitimacy-of-government, anti-revenue principle they’ve been working themselves into a froth over during these last years, they’re at least going to need a little more time to come up with a creative explanation for it. A new Twitter hashtag isn’t going to cover that one.

via randomactsofchaos: Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (02/15/2013)

Andrew Sullivan collected a couple of forecasts for how this is going to look when people start paying attention.

Last week, Sprung wondered about the politics of the spending cuts: In trying to pin the sequester on Obama, Republicans never really say exactly what they’re blaming him for. Is it for actually wanting the savage cuts — a suggestion that doesn’t pass the laugh test? Or for being weak or foolish enough to let them inflict it on him and on the country? That must be it — notwithstanding it doesn’t reflect very well on them. They’re the ones insisting that the meat ax is better than a) simply calling the thing off, since no one intended to enact it, or b) replacing it with a mix of more targeted cuts and modest tax hikes.

Bernstein adds: [W]hen voters start complaining about specific cuts, Obama can offer to replace them with specific tax increases voters favor. But all Republicans have to offer to replace specific unpopular sequester cuts is … other specific unpopular cuts. This is not a playing field that sets up well for Republicans.

More from Bernstein:

When sequestration hits, then, it will hit one popular program after another … and there are no large chunks of the budget which Republicans can offer as alternatives. Indeed, the one place where Republicans are actively fighting cuts — defense — is one of the least popular, ranking 16th of the 19 categories Pew asks about. Then it comes to the fight over budgeting in general and sequestration in particular, there’s probably nothing more important to know about public opinion than the fact that most people like spending cuts in the abstract, but oppose them for virtually all specific programs. Republicans believe they will be able to shift the blame for unpopular sequester cuts to Obama. But Obama will be repeating that he wants cuts balanced by tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, while the consensus Republican position will remain that we should only have deep cuts — indeed, that we should go farther than the sequester.

NOTE: The above vote (H.V. 690) was taken on August 1, 2011. Three days before, on July 29, 2011, the Republicans passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the House (H.V. 677) without one Democratic yes vote, but with 218 Republicans voting yes.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told Fox News that Boehner would lose his speakership if he agreed to a deal with the president that included new tax revenues.

Remember that “new tax revenue” means closing loopholes and subsidies for rich people and corporations. That’s really not being explained in the media enough.

Politico: “The Republicans’ message on the sequester couldn’t be clearer: They don’t have a unified one. There seem to be three distinct camps: Most congressional Republicans appear willing to let the sequester happen since they can’t replace it in time. Others want the cuts to be even deeper. And still others wish that House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama would just get in the same room and negotiate a deal, even if it includes the tax hikes that most Republicans abhor.”

First Read: “So here’s the GOP’s muddled message: First, these cuts could cost jobs and money; second, the Obama administration is trying to scare the American people about these cuts; and third, these cuts could cost jobs and money. What’s happening here: Congressional GOPers are split.”

Roll Call: “The seemingly inevitable sequester cuts that will slash $85 billion from the federal budget on Friday reflect not only Washington’s political paralysis but a bitter lobbying failure for K Street interests across the board.”

Jed Lewison on Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) contradicting himself in one interview Position 1: the President is wrong to scare-monger about the consequences of the sequester because it won’t be so bad. Then, Position 2: the consequences of the sequester will be bad and the President will be blamed for it.

Ezra Klein on what Republicans could possibly be thinking:

  1. One answer is that they’re hoping the sequester gives them so much leverage that the Democrats fold and accept an equivalent or larger package of spending cuts that Republicans prefer. But I can’t find any Republicans who actually believe that will happen.
  2. Another explanation is that Republicans don’t want to cut tax deductions now — which is the key to any deal with the Democrats — because they want to use those deductions to pay for rate-lowering tax reform. But if they’re not open to new revenues, they’re not getting rate-lowering tax reform while President Obama remains in office. And if they take power after Obama leaves office, they can just lower tax rates without paying for it, as they’ve done many times before. 
  3. A third answer is that the anti-tax pledge holds that cutting deductions to reduce the deficit is a tax increase, and Republicans won’t vote for a tax increase, even if it results in a policy outcome they vastly prefer. In other words, it’s ratio-myopia.

Think Progress: A new poll released by the Hill newspaper has found that more voters favor slashing military spending versus cutting spending on domestic programs like Medicare and Social Security in order to reduce the debt and deficit. [...] Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would support cutting military spending, while just 23 percent said they would support slashing Social Security and Medicare. An overwhelming majority, 69 percent, said they would oppose cuts to social programs. Moreover, 37 percent said the U.S. spends “too much” on the military, 38 percent said “just the right amount” and only 18 percent said “too little.”

image: ihatepeacocks


This is not the President’s sequester. This is a GOP-manufactured crisis. Again.

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