Why should furloughed feds have their lost wages restored when they return to work?

Lawmakers from this region already have introduced legislation to restore federal employees’ pay at the end of the government shutdown. The bills cover all federal workers, whether they work or not during the shutdown. The White House estimates 800,000 federal workers are being furloughed. The Senate bill lacks GOP co-sponsors. The House bill has bipartisan support with Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) signing on. — FederalNewsRadio 

Look at that again: Out of 277 Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate, only three agree that furloughed federal civilian workers–through no fault of their own–should have lost wages restored. Even though this is happening because the GOP leadership decided it would be politically beneficial to hold the government hostage while they tried to stop the ACA for important reasons like: (1) to appease an extremist 18% minority, and (2) to appease wealthy donors who are against the ACA for various reasons.

The bagger-argument is / will be that these 800,000 feds who are currently locked out of their workplace don’t “deserve” another “paid vacation” (like back in ’95-’96). And maybe that would be a legitimate argument IF the people who are furloughed had asked for or wanted to be sent home without pay for an unspecified amount of time, with one last paycheck to pay bills and feed their families, knowing that the next paycheck will be a half-paycheck and it will be the last paycheck. Par-Tay!  

My brother has an excellent counter-argument for baggers (and which is actually at the heart of why back pay is probably restored to furloughed feds): there are no free lunches, not even for extremist rightwing members of the House.

If the federal government won’t pay its workforce, then the states will. The reality is that there are 800,000 furloughed federal civilian workers currently without an income, through no fault of their own, BUT they are “job-attached.” That means that while they wait at home, if they want to keep their jobs and eventually go back to work, they can’t look for work or work a side job or get another job to make up for this loss of income. These feds are eligible for state unemployment benefits.

The states will wind up paying unemployment benefits to many of the 2.9 million civilian federal workers currently being punished by the GOP. This includes the 800,000 furloughed feds and, depending on the state, may include some of those who are currently on the job but who will not see a paycheck until this is over (unlike Congress). The caveat? If the unpaid federal workforce finally receives back pay, they will in turn pay back the benefits they received to their states.

So each day that the Republican-led House chooses not to put up a clean CR for a vote, and as each new Republican “idea”  that’s designed to get some PR time on AM radio and Fox News is defeated in the House and Senate (such as re-opening only some parts of the government, like national parks), and as the GOP messes around with their talking points and wish-list of things they’re going to try and change about the federal government and current law (now that they have hostages), it will be state governments picking up the tab on the federal workforce.

So why should furloughed workers get back pay? Aside from the obvious answer “because it’s the right thing to do,” the other answer is because states shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of “one faction of one party in one house of Congress in one branch of government [which] shut down the entire government just to re-fight the results of an election.”  Entire states shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of extremists elected to Congress by an extremist minority.


Morning coffee: Hug a Thug today





Paul Ryan and the GOP have some good news and some bad news

image recall-all-republicans

House GOP Approves Budget That Cuts Taxes For Millionaires, Slashes The Social Safety Net | Travis Waldron on Mar 21, 2013

The House of Representatives this afternoon approved the Republican budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) by a vote of 221-207, with 197 Democrats and 10 Republicans voting against it. Three Democrats and one Republican did not vote.

For the third consecutive year, the House GOP has approved a budget that ends the traditional guaranteed Medicare coverage for senior citizens, makes substantial cuts to poverty programs and the social safety net, and grants massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Recent analyses have shown that the budget plan’s tax reforms, which lower top tax rates to 25 percent, would give millionaires at least $200,000 in tax cuts. At the same time, it would slash the social safety net, targeting poverty programs for two-thirds of its cuts.


House approves far-right Ryan budget plan | Steve Benen on March 21, 2013 

Though there were whispers that GOP leaders had to worry about significant defections, only 10 House Republicans broke ranks and opposed Ryan’s budget — the exact same number of Republicans who voted against their party’s budget blueprint last year.

And what a plan it is. We’re talking about an ambitious plan to redistribute wealth — from the bottom up — with a healthy dose of “almost frighteningly ambitious” social engineering. Ryan’s budget would end Medicare, cut taxes by over $5 trillion, take health care benefits away from millions of Americans, make “massive” cuts to in programs for low-income and vulnerable Americans, and relies on smoke and mirrors to balance the budget within a decade.

It is, in other words, the exact opposite of what the American mainstream wants, and bears no resemblance to the platform the American electorate endorsed in national elections four months ago. It’s designed to satisfy folks who believe the wealthy are over-burdened by taxes and struggling families have too much access to affordable health care.

Despite all of this, 95% of House GOP lawmakers voted for the plan anyway.


CHART: Paul Ryan’s Massive Tax Cut For Millionaires | Sahil Kapur March 15, 2013

Ryan’s plan also cuts spending by some $4.6 trillion over the next decade, targeting programs like Medicaid and the portion of the budget that includes Pell Grants and food stamps. He insists his tax cuts will spur significant economic growth, and he promises to pay for them by closing unspecified tax loopholes, deductions and credits — ideally on high incomes.

“You can actually plug loopholes and subject more of higher earners’ income to taxation through a lower tax rate,” Ryan said. “We think that’s smarter.” His promise mirrors that of Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election. The problem, as numerous independent experts concluded, is that finding that much revenue in tax expenditures would require raising effective taxes on the middle class.


Renewed hostage-taking | Pema Levy on March 21, 2013

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Thursday that Republicans will require a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar that they agree to raise the debt ceiling, which the United States is expected to hit in August. “Dollar for dollar is the plan,” Boehner said at a press conference. As TPM reported Thursday, conservative House Republicans are pushing their leadership to use the debt ceiling as leverage to demand major reforms or cuts, including dollar for dollar cuts.


Remember when John Boehner and other distinguished Republicans had great fun on Twitter using the hashtag #Obamaquester when discussing sequestration cuts? This week, Boehner admitted with his own damn mouth that President Obama “didn’t want the cuts.” Watch:


More Republican good news / bad news: 

  • Bad: Mitt Romney / Paul Ryan didn’t win the election, and Republicans lost seats in Congress.
  • Good: So? Doesn’t matter, the GOP will continue ‘patriotically’ ignoring what the majority of Americans voted for.

Remember: either they’ve decided they know what’s best for all of us — or they’re going to try to get away with as much as they can until we stop them. 

image: odinsblog

Here’s what Republicans are calling “tax increases” (implying *everyone’s* taxes)

How much should Boehner’s personal opinion on any matter count after the election?  The Republicans in the House and Senate are protecting the rich and powerful from paying more of their fair share by refusing to close tax loopholes used only by the very wealthy, while the paycheck-to-paycheck conservative base rubes believe they’re the ones being protected from a tax increase! Fox programming at its finest.

Steve Benen:

This sentence… “Let’s make it clear, the president got his tax hike on January 1st. The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over.”

…makes exactly as much sense as this sentence: “Let’s make it clear, Republicans got their spending cuts in 2011. The discussion about spending cuts, in my view, is over.”

Below are some of the tax breaks that Obama has targeted for closure in the past and the ones that are in the Senate bill.


  • CARRIED INTEREST. Preferential treatment for private equity, venture capital and other financial managers that lets them pay the 20 percent capital gains rate on much of their income, instead of the higher individual income tax rate on wages.
  • OIL AND GAS SUBSIDIES. Energy sector tax breaks including the oil and gas well-depletion allowance; the domestic manufacturing deduction on oil and gas, and expensing of intangible drilling costs.
  • LAST IN, FIRST OUT (LIFO) ACCOUNTING. An accounting technique used in some industries, especially oil and gas. Companies say this change would force them to revalue old inventory to higher prices.
  • PROFIT DEFERRAL. A deduction for interest expenses on foreign earnings for deferred taxes.
  • FOREIGN TAX CREDIT POOLING. A loophole that lets companies claim more in tax credits than would be paid in U.S. taxes by altering which of their foreign units pay out dividends.
  • INTANGIBLE PROPERTY. A tax break that allows U.S. companies to shelter overseas profits derived from intangible property, such as royalties from drug patents.
  • CORPORATE JETS. A tax break used by corporate jet owners to depreciate fleets.
  • MINIMUM OVERSEAS PROFITS TAX. A minimum tax on overseas profits and using the revenues to help companies invest in the United States.


  • BUFFETT RULE. Named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, a new 30 percent minimum tax would be applied on household adjusted gross income, phased in between incomes of $1 million to $5 million.
  • OIL FROM TAR SANDS. Oil derived from tar sands would be added to a list of petroleum products that pay into a liability trust fund to help clean up after oil spills.
  • DEDUCTION FOR MOVING OVERSEAS. This provision would end the ability of companies to take tax deductions for costs associated with moving plants and jobs overseas.

Congressional leaders went to the White House on Friday in a last-ditch effort to avert the automatic “sequester” budget cuts that will soon go into effect. After the meeting, Republican leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) emerged to reemphasize that the GOP will not consider any new revenues in a deal to avert the sequester.

Boehner said, “the discussion about revenue, in my view, is over.” And McConnell added, “I want to make clear that any solutions will be done through the regular order, with input from both sides of the aisle in public debate…I will not be part of any back-room deal and I will absolutely not agree to increase taxes.”

As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted, this position is absurd, and akin to Democrats demanding that 100 percent of future deficit reduction be achieved through tax hikes. As this chart shows, nearly three-quarters of deficit reduction that has been achieved since 2011 has been through spending cuts:

[...] And at the end of the day, all of the deficit reduction talk ignores the fact that the problem with government spending at the moment is that it is too low, not too high.

Barbara Morrill: During President Obama’s press conference on Friday morning, the most eye roll inducing moment had to be when, immediately after he had given an lengthy answer outlining the $2.5 trillion cuts already made to the deficit, the proposals he has put forth over the past two years and his willingness to reach a balanced deal with the Republican Party—who have rejected outright any sort of compromise—a member of the brain trust we call the White House press corps said:

It sounds like you’re saying that this is a Republican problem and not one that you bear any responsibility for.

Well, sure. That’s what it might sound like if you had your head up your ass. But instead of giving that obvious response, the president went with:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Julie, give me an example of what I might do.

Q: I’m just trying to clarify your statement.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, no, but I’m trying to clarify the question. What I’m suggesting is, I’ve put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms, goes right at the problem that is at the heart of our long-term deficit problem. I’ve offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach. And so far, we’ve gotten rebuffed because what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans have said is, we cannot do any revenue, we can’t do a dime’s worth of revenue.

And that’s when crickets invaded the room. Not a peep out of ‘em.

According to Boehner, the only available solution to a problem he helped create is one in which his side gets 100% of what it wants, predicated on the assumption that the massive spending cuts agreed to in 2011 have escaped Republicans’ memories altogether. At this point, most Americans want a compromise. Most Democrats want and have already proposed a compromise. But Boehner wants everyone to know there will be no compromise, and there’s nothing the president can say or do to change his mind. I’ll now look forward to pundits everywhere telling me how “both sides” are to blame.

Sequestered Saturday – Day 1: thank the Republican House and its leadership

On Friday evening, President Obama issued an order putting sequestration into effect. He was required by law to do so by the end of the day in the absence of a congressional agreement to stop the $85 billion in across-the-board-cuts.

“By the authority vested in me as President by the laws of the United States of America, and in accordance with section 251A of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, as amended (the ‘Act’), 2 U.S.C. 901a, I hereby order that budgetary resources in each non-exempt budget account be reduced by the amount calculated by the Office of Management and Budget in its report to the Congress of March 1, 2013,” Obama’s order stated. [...]

In a statement, Boehner said, “For 16 months, President Obama and his party in the Senate knew that unless they acted, the president’s sequester would go into effect on March 1. Still, despite the House doing its part on two separate occasions over 10 months, Democrats have yet to pass a plan of their own. So to my dismay, the sequester — a series of mandatory spending cuts proposed during by the White House during the debt ceiling talks of 2011 — went into place as scheduled. And it will be here to stay until the president and the Democratic-controlled Senate decide to join us in focusing on more responsible spending cuts to replace it.”

Speaker John A. Boehner, the man who spent significant portions of the last Congress shuttling to and from the White House for fiscal talks with President Obama that ultimately failed twice to produce a grand bargain, has come around to the idea that the best negotiations are no negotiations. [...] While the frustrations of Congressional Democrats and Mr. Obama with Mr. Boehner are reaching a fever pitch, House Republicans could not be more pleased with their leader. – NYTimes

The Republican Party’s single, solitary, post-Bush mission: Obama’s first term = make him a one-term president. Obama’s second term = punish America for voting for him again.

24-hour warning: By the way, red states take in more federal money than they pay in taxes

Paul Begala thinks it’s a shame that sequestration cuts can’t be limited to states which take in more federal money than they pay in taxes and are represented by politicians who refuse to pay for the spending that their constituents demand (and have come to expect):

“This could be fun. Oklahoma so hates Obama’s big spending that every single county in the state voted for Mitt Romney. Oklahoma has twice the percentage of federal employees than the U.S. average, and Okies get $1.35 back from Washington for each dollar they pay in taxes. So close the massive FAA center in Oklahoma City. Move it to Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district, where they love big government. Two years ago I made a similar argument about Kentucky, calling on Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to put the Bluegrass State in detox for its addiction to local pork. No such luck. But perhaps the principle can apply to the sequester: enforce it only in states whose elected representatives won’t support the taxes needed to fund the spending they want.” — A pox on one of their houses

Some facts:

Mother JonesEven as Republicans gripe about deficit spending, their states get 30 cents more federal spending per tax dollar than their Democratic neighbors:

It’s no secret: The federal budget is expanding faster than tax revenues, a trend that’s been fueled by the rapid growth of entitlement programs and exacerbated by the recession. As a recent New York Times article documents, even as fiscally conservative lawmakers complain about deficit spending, their constituents don’t want to give up the Social Security checks, Medicare benefits, and earned income tax credits that provide a safety net for the struggling middle class.

This gap between political perception and fiscal reality is also reflected in the distribution of tax dollars at the state level: Most politically “red” states are financially in the red when it comes to how much money they receive from Washington compared with what their residents pay in taxes.

A look at 2010 Census and IRS data reveals that the 50 states and the District of Columbia, on average, received $1.29 in federal spending for every federal tax dollar they paid. That means that some states are getting a lot more than they put in, and vice versa. The states that contributed more in taxes than they got back in spending were more likely to have voted for Obama in 2008 and were more likely to be largely urban. (There are some clear exceptions: For instance, New Mexico, a rural, Democratic state, gets more federal money per tax dollar than any other state.)

Added to that is “the world’s least surprising chart” from Brad Plummer

new survey from the Pew Research Center finds that most Americans like the idea of cutting federal spending in the abstract — they just can’t agree on any specific areas they’d actually like to cut…

[...] Foreign aid is far and away the most popular suggestion for the chopping block, but even here, it’s a close call — 48 percent of respondents said cut it, 49 percent said keep it the same or increase it. (Foreign aid makes up less than 1 percent of the federal budget.) In no other spending area is there majority support for cuts.

The tide has turned… and it’s turned away from career war profiteers in Congress:

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.

Voters are tired of funding the GOP’s Forever Wars and think there should be spending cuts — but they think the cuts should be to all those other programs and services they personally don’t like or use (like foreign aid — only 1% of the budget). And while everyone in the country continues to subsidize the red states’ appetite for federal cheese, red state conservatives will continue to tell themselves that they deserve more federal cheese than blue states (or that it’s not federal cheese – it’s freedom cheese!). So we’ll see how long Teapublicans can hold out on their belief that only Democratic states and Democrats will be ‘hurt’ by the sequester.

Source: questionall

Want to see how much your state will lose with sequestration cuts? Go here.

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.

Let me show you on the doll where Mr. Sequester will touch you

Where will Mr. Sequester touch you? In these places:

Here are the top five ways that sequestration will make the nation a less healthy place:

  1. More Americans could be put at risk for foodborne illnesses.
  2. Medical researchers will be forced to delay the development of treatments that could help sick Americans.
  3. The government will have fewer resources to provide Americans with health coverage.
  4. Thousands of Americans living with mental illnesses could go untreated.
  5. Fewer Americans will get screened and treated for HIV.

Economists estimate that sequestration “most likely would reduce growth by about one-half of a percentage point in 2013,” the New York Times reports.

“Many economists are particularly critical of the arbitrary nature of the cuts, arguing that Congress could reduce annual deficits by the same amount with far less economic damage by spreading the cuts across a broader range of programs, directing them at lesser priorities or giving government agencies more discretion in how they make them.”

Travelers should brace for longer airport lines and possible flight delays after March 1 if automatic federal spending cuts reduce staffing as scheduled, government and industry officials warn. “This truly could become a nightmare for travel,” said Geoff Freeman, chief operating officer of the U.S. Travel Association. [...] The wait at security checkpoints could be an extra hour and up to three more hours at Customs and Border Protection checkpoints at the nation’s busiest airports, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee have estimated. — Federal Times

Air Travel: An estimated $619 million would be cut from the operations and facilities and equipment accounts of the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a report by House Appropriations Committee Democrats. This could mean major flight delays and an economic hit on the millions of people who depend on air travel every day. — GovExec

  • $483 million cut from the FAA operations budget, forcing all FAA employees to be furloughed for 11 days. On any given day, that could mean that 10 percent of the FAA’s 40,000 employees could be on furlough, resulting in longer delays, reduced air-traffic control, and losses in tourism. There will also be a hiring freeze.
  • $136 million cut from the FAA’s facilities and equipment account, which helps maintain and modernize the air-traffic control infrastructure.
  • Transportation Security Administration screeners would receive a seven-day furlough.

The Environmental Protection Agency may shut down for three days in response to automatic budget cuts set to begin late next week, according to union officials involved in discussions with agency management.  [...] The EPA cuts would translate into fewer compliance inspections, less money for water quality projects, and cutbacks in research to help communities adapt to climate change, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson wrote in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., earlier this month. — Federal Times

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will furlough its employees for up to 14 days this year if the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester kick in on March 1, according to a letter the agency sent to union officials this week. [...] The letter said furloughs would be mandatory for all Customs and Border Protection employees, including management and workers without union representation. Notices would go out in mid-March, the agency said. — Washington Post

The automatic budget cuts set to take effect on March 1 will delay the opening of the East and West Rim drives at the Grand Canyon and reduce hours of operation at the main visitor center. At Gettysburg, 20 percent of student education programs would be eliminated this spring. — Washington Post

  • Also affected: Blue Ridge, Parkway, Mount Rainer, Glacier, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Tetons, the National Mall, Yellowstone. (All the parks,really.)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described the impact of the cuts, amounting to $2 billion, in a letter that warned “these furloughs and other actions would severely disrupt our ability to provide a broad range of public services.” — Reuters

  • a nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of (meat) inspection personnel for as much as 15 days of lost production, costing over $10 billion in production losses.
  • Up to 600,000 low-income women and infants could be cut from the so-called WIC program that provides supplemental food and nutrition education if the budget cuts last for the rest of this fiscal year…
  • Closure of 670 of the Forest Service’s 19,000 recreation sites, such as campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads, in the national forests and shorter hours at visitor centers. “This would largely occur during the peak use seasons in spring and summer,” said USDA.
  • The Forest Service would reduce its law enforcement force by 35 workers to 707 officers.
  • A work pause on the Census of Agriculture. “Data will become incomplete and will not be statistically sound for publication,” said USDA. The census, conducted every five years, provides valuable data on farm operation and output that is used in USDA’s forecasts. USDA faced repeated funding shortages for its crop and livestock reports in the past couple of years.
  • A slowdown in USDA aid to landowners wanting expert advice or matching funds to control runoff from fields and feedlots and a reduction in USDA-backed loans to farmers to buy land or cover operating costs until harvest.

More than one million workers will start taking unpaid leave on April 1 because of sequestration. — Wall Street Journal

And of course, the nearly two million federal workers facing furloughs won’t just be getting less work done to benefit all of us, they’ll be losing pay. That not only means they and their families may struggle to make ends meet, but money taken out of their local economies as they spend less. In other words: bad for federal workers, bad for people who rely on federal oversight and services, bad for the economy as a whole. — Laura Clawson


It’s really too nice of a day to read comments, but it’s amazing how quickly the Fox-Rush base are losing their minds in the comment sections of some of these articles over simple information about what actual things will actually be affected by sequestration. It’s as if they really thought they could pick and choose what should be cut and what shouldn’t. They seem extra upset about park closures, air travel inconveniences, and the Border Patrol being affected. ‘Barry Zero’ and the ‘Dims’ are fear-mongering and guvmit can’t take taxpayer money from WeThePeople and not give us what we want! The banjo music is almost deafening. Such thinking could be classified as Narcissistic Sheeple Disorder and, unfortunately, designated as a chronic and practically incurable condition.

REMINDER: there are currently TWO PLANS to avoid the sequester:

  1. the President wants a mix of cuts and new revenue through closing loopholes [for the wealthiest taxpayers];
  2. and the Republican plan is to replace draconian cuts to military spending with draconian cuts to social insurance programs.

Bush’s tax cuts on capital gains are the biggest contributor to rising income inequality

While we consider how we are just days away from devastating sequestration cuts (which the Republican Party has decided is superior to closing tax loopholes for the super rich), take a look at why there’s such a huge gap in income inequality in America today:

Changes in tax law that reduced the federal tax rate on capital gains income is “by far the largest contributor” to rising income inequality in the United States, according to a new paper from Thomas Hungerford, an economist at the Congressional Research Service: By far, the largest contributor to this increase was changes in income from capital gains and dividends. Changes in wages had an equalizing effect over this period as did changes in taxes. Most of the equalizing effect of taxes took place after the 1993 tax hike; most of the equalizing effect, however, was reversed after the 2001 and 2003 Bush-era tax cuts. [...] The large increase in the contribution of capital gains and dividends to the Gini coefficient, however, is due to the large increase in the share of after-tax income from capital gains and dividends, and to the increase in the correlation of this income source with after-tax income. 


We’ll stop talking about George W. Bush when the things he did while he was president for eight years stop affecting us today.

Doesn’t matter who’s at fault for the sequester. Here’s the REAL issue we’re faced with…

Republicans in Congress passed the sequester and President Obama signed it. The problem isn’t who’s to blame for the sequester, a disagreement that’s received enormous attention in the media. The actual problem we’re faced with is summarized excellently by JOSH MARSHALL:

Each party’s plan to avoid it is dramatically different, a fact that’s gotten virtually no attention. While the President wants a mix of cuts and new revenue through closing loopholes, the Republican plan is to replace draconian cuts to military spending with draconian cuts to social insurance programs.

Boom. There it is.

The sequester, furloughs and shutdowns: let people see what government really means

Matthew Cooper believes that if there’s one silver lining to be found in the “buffoonery” of the sequester, it’s that at least it will be a teachable moment for the public:

But if agencies and departments can’t or won’t juggle their books, hey, let people see what government really means. …There’s something sobering about aircraft carriers that won’t sail and forest rangers who won’t be paid to protect. The last time I can think of such an educational moment was not the short-lived government shutdown on the ’90s, but the Oklahoma City bombing. Who died in the blast? IRS officials, Secret Service agents, General Services Administration workers. President Clinton offered a reflection on the victims, “many there who served the rest of us, who worked to help the elderly and the disabled, who worked to support our farmers and our veterans, who worked to enforce our laws and to protect us. Let us say clearly, they served us well, and we are grateful,” he said.

In 2001, looking back on the bombing, Clinton said: “And I had, like every politician, on occasion, gotten upset by some example of government waste or something the way we all do, and referred derisively to government bureaucrats. And I promised myself that I would never use those two words together for the rest of my life. I would treat those people who serve our country with respect, whether they’re in uniform, in law enforcement, firefighter, nurses, any other things.” I’m not comparing the tragedy of Oklahoma City to sequestration. One is evil; the other buffoonery. But they each have the effect of making you realize what government employees do.

Some examples of what’s at stake: 

Few corners of the federal government directly touch the public as do the 398 parks, monuments and historic sites, which draw 280 million visits a year. The system would feel the effects immediately of a $110 million slash should budget cuts take effect March 1 — from a three-week delay of Yellowstone’s spring opening to save money on snow plowing, to shuttered campgrounds and visitor centers along the Blue Ridge Parkway. [..] The prospect of dirtier restrooms, sporadic grass mowing and litter pickup, and a shortage of rangers to answer questions and patrol has set off a furious campaign by a coalition of park advocates, tourism officials and businesses from to Maine to Wyoming. Their plea: The reductions would not just set back conservation efforts but also undermine local economies around the parks that rely on tourism.

The Defense Department will notify Congress as early as Wednesday of plans to furlough almost 800,000 civilian employees starting in April if automatic budget cuts take effect, according to a defense official. [...] By law, however, DoD must give lawmakers 45 days notice of employee furloughs. If the spending cuts, formally known as sequestration, begin as scheduled March 1, the Pentagon will likely send most civilians home for one day per week for up to 22 weeks through the end of the fiscal year in September, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told a House committee last week. The furloughs would save DoD about $5 billion out of the $46 billion total it will have to cut under sequestration, Carter said. Military personnel would be exempt.

Jessica Wright, acting Defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness, said that while the impact of sequestration on “military personnel would be devastating, the impact on civilians is catastrophic.” [...] “The first-, second- and third-order effect will be felt in local commands and communities. It’s not a Beltway phenomenon,” she said, noting that 80 percent of defense civilian employees work outside the Washington area. The 20 percent decrease in pay would affect business and communities and confront “many families with tough decisions.”

The Army estimates automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect March 1 will have a $15 billion economic impact and affect more than 300,000 jobs nationwide. Hardest hit states include Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Among the least affected: Delaware, Wyoming, Montana and Rhode Island. [...] The cuts will affect every Army installation, according to the documents. States with large bases and military contractors are taking the biggest hits. Texas, for instance, would face a $2.4 billion economic loss from the Army’s budget cuts. Nearly 30,000 Army civilian employees will be furloughed if the cuts go into effect. They will lose $180 million in pay.

If across-the-board budget cuts take effect as scheduled next month, every FBI employee, including special agents, will be furloughed for almost three weeks by the end of September. Ditto for many law enforcement officers at the Department of Homeland Security, where layoffs are also a possibility. Furloughs for Agriculture Department food safety inspectors will mean temporary shutdowns of meat processing plants. At the Social Security Administration, more than 1,500 temporary workers and re-employed retirees will be shown the door.

Budget cuts could result in up to 20 percent pay cut for federal workers:

Agriculture: Plans to furlough about one-third of its workforce, which would lead to “a nationwide shutdown of meat and poultry plants during a furlough of inspection personnel.”

Commerce: “Up to 2,600 NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) employees would have to be furloughed, approximately 2,700 positions would not be filled, and the number of contractors would have to be reduced by about 1,400.” Census vacancies would remain vacant.

Justice: “The Department estimates that it would lose the equivalent of more than 1,000 federal agents . . . as well as 1,300 correctional officers.”

“These employees aren’t some fat cat bureaucrats in a plush Washington office. They are the firefighters who safeguard our bases, the health-care professionals who treat injured soldiers in military hospitals, the mechanics who repair our tanks and planes, the logistics personnel who ensure supplies make it to our troops, the acquisition experts who prevent big defense contractors from ripping off taxpayers. Congress [needs] to find a solution to this manufactured crisis that does not punish our hard-working federal employees, cripple our economic recovery or gut federal programs and services.” — J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees

In addition to all the lost hours that went towards serving the public in one way or another – you never miss it until it’s gone! — imagine the lost commerce locally and regionally because of lost income. Civilian employees with the DoD (among others) stand to lose 8 hours in pay per week through September — that works out to a 20% pay cut. Could you afford that? Not to mention the lost incomes of all the people who will be sent home permanently or who could have been employed and who won’t be now.

All this manufactured crisis and upheaval because Republicans won’t agree to close some tax loopholes for the wealthiest to balance massive spending cuts (in a fragile economy!) with new revenue. In addition to March 1, we also have March 27 to look forward to. That’s when the government’s continuing resolution (funding to run the government) expires and when Republicans will undoubtedly threaten another government shutdown when they’re asked to ‘compromise.’

Let’s not forget two important things: right now the economy is improving and the deficit is shrinking.  And maybe that’s why Republicans are so unhappy. As former GOP Virginia governor Jim Gilmore said recently: “They think spending is the most important thing. It’s not.”

(Graphics above via the NYTimes)

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

questionall: Remember this when the shit hits the fan. If 218 House Republicans hadn’t voted Aye on ROLL CALL 677, the sequester would have died in Congress. ~ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll677.xml

WITH NINE DAYS TO GO before $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts begin, some Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling on Republican leaders to reconvene the House immediately and find a way to avert the spending reductions known as the “sequester.” Both the House and Senate are in recess this week. “This is an unnecessary self-inflicted wound on the United States economy,” Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.) said in a conference call with other House Democrats to highlight some of the fears and adverse affects of the sequester they’re hearing about back home. “Congress should come back to Washington to fix the problem.”


Anyone want to bet that the Republicans don’t come back before Monday? And before you drink the Fox propaganda tea about this crisis being “Obama’s sequester,” let’s take a look at some FACTS from recent history:

STEVE BENEN: So, if we’re stuck in the argument GOP leaders insist on having, we might as well note they’re wrong about this, too. For Republicans, President Obama “proposed and demanded the sequester.” We know this isn’t true. Indeed, at the time, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) bragged about Republicans getting the sequester into the Budget Control Act.

JOHN AVLON:  I happened to come across an old email that throws cold water on House Republicans’ attempts to call this “Obama’s Sequester.” It’s a PowerPoint presentation that John Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011. Intended to explain the outline of the proposed debt deal, the presentation is titled: “Two Step Approach to Hold President Obama Accountable.” It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that “sequestration” was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending—the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.

A slide from the final page of Speaker John Boehner’s Powerpoint to House Republicans on July 31st, 2011, obtained by The Daily Beast. Click to download full pdf.

GREG SARGENT explains why GOP leaders are repeating falsehoods and spinning desperately:

Republicans may simply be putting on a game face about the politics of the sequester because they may view it as a necessity at this point. As you may recall, a top GOP aide told Politico recently that a government shutdown fight might be necessary for Republican lawmakers to get the need for an apocalyptic confrontation with Obama “out of their system,” i.e., for “member management purposes.” But The Hill reports that Republican aides have revised this strategy; they have decided the sequester is a better target than the government shutdown to stage this confrontation. And so the sequester is apparently necessary for rank and file lawmakers to get the need to stick it to Obama “out of their system.” Republicans have defined victory as agreeing to no new revenues whatsoever, so it’s unclear whether there’s any other way out of this for them.

And finally, and most importantly, MICHAEL TOMASKY points out something that almost everyone seems to forget: Congress passed sequestration before the president signed it, and the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating:

So fine, the White House proposed it. It did so only after months of Republicans publicly demanding huge spending cuts and refusing to consider any revenues and acting as if they were prepared to send the nation into default over spending. In other words, this was the administration’s idea in much the way that it’s a parent’s “idea” to pay ransom to a person who has taken his child hostage. There was a gun to the White House’s head, which was the possibility of the country going into default. And then, when it was all put into legislation, it was the Republicans who passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the House, with 218 of them voting yes. So even if administration officials proposed it, it would have remained just a proposal if those 218 Republicans hadn’t supported it (no House Democrats backed it). Most Republicans agreed at the time that the sequestration trigger was a good thing—that it would force everyone to get together and agree to a path forward and a long-term budget deal.

We all have such short memories. And by we, I mean our mainstream media and conservative base-rubes.

Related: 15 Republicans Who Want The Damaging Sequester To Occur

Sequester week: for accuracy call it the #Teaquester or the #Boehnerquester

The Republican-led House voted itself a vacation this week without one Democrat voting for it. House members will not return to work until Monday, February 25, which gives them exactly four days to work on a solution to the sequester.

Speaker John Boehner writes in the Wall Street Journal that the deep automatic spending cuts set for the end of the month were President Obama’s idea. But a July 2011 PowerPoint obtained by John Avlon shows the opposite may be true. “It’s a PowerPoint presentation that Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011… It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that ‘sequestration’ was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending–the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.” — Political Wire

At this point, it’d be a mistake to suggest the bipartisan talks have stalled, since there [are] no talks — Democrats have unveiled a sequester alternative, and Republicans have not; Democrats have said they’re open to compromise, and Republican have said they aren’t. The probably of avoiding next week’s mess is quickly approaching zero. With this in mind, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has a 900-word op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on the subject, devoted almost entirely to a desperate attempt to avoid blame. In the larger context, it’s only mildly annoying that Boehner invests more energy in pointing fingers than working on a solution, but it’s far worse that the Speaker peddles blatant falsehoods, lacking enough respect for the public and the political world to be honest with them… — Steve Benen

As the deadline nears, many Republicans are not only unwilling to look for bipartisan solutions to stop the sequester – they are gleefully looking forward to its impact on American families:

  • “It’s pretty clear to me that the sequester is going to go into effect…Read my lips: I’m not interested in an 11th-hour negotiation.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • “Sequestration will take place…I am excited. It will be the first time since I’ve been in Congress that we really have significant cuts.” — Republican Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
  • “Sequestration needs to happen…Bottom line, it needs to happen and that’s the deal we struck to raise the debt limit.” — Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN)
  • “I think sequester’s going to happen…I think people want it to happen.” — Republican Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)
  • “We’re willing to let it go through till they (Democrats) respond to us.” — Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)

“That’s the biggest problem with the Republicans. They think spending is the most important thing. It’s not.” [Former Virginia governor and conservative Republican Jim Gilmore] says he has urged GOP leaders to back down and compromise to prevent the so-called sequester spending cuts from going through – “I keep telling them, you’re going to lose this” – and he has strong words for congressional leaders’ focus on deficit reduction as their primary economy goal. “Above all things,” he says, “they shouldn’t be talking about debt and deficits. Because the left’s got an answer for them.” That answer would be, raise taxes, which Gilmore says is the opposite of what the economy needs right now – and he’s quite critical of Democrats for pushing tax increases. But spending cuts won’t help the economy either, he says. — Wonkblog

President Barack Obama lashed out against Republicans, saying they are unwilling to raise taxes to reduce deficits and warning that the jobs of essential government workers, from teachers to emergency responders, are on the line. [...] Obama cautioned that if the $85 billion in immediate cuts — known as the sequester — occur, the full range of government would feel the effects. Among those he listed: furloughed FBI agents, reductions in spending for communities to pay police and fire personnel and teachers, and decreased ability to respond to threats around the world. [...] “People will lose their jobs,” he said. “The unemployment rate might tick up again. So far at least, the ideas that the Republicans have proposed ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or the biggest corporations,” Obama said. “So the burden is all on the first responders, or seniors or middle class families.”

The most likely scenario, according to officials on both sides of Pennsylvania Ave, is that Congress will kick the can on the sequester until the government’s budget authority runs out on March 27. Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution by that date, or the government will be shut down. Indeed the shutdown is a more acute, if routine, threat — with nearly all of the government ceasing to operate immediately instead of broad-based spending reductions.

Next month, our government will be subject to devastating across-the-board spending cuts, fed furloughs, and / or a government shutdown — all of which will be a disaster for most Americans, the economy, national security, future growth, and reducing unemployment. The entire country is now at the mercy of the two sides of the GOP: all the conservative extremists who were parked in Congress by tea party ‘patriots’ and Jebus freaks who live in deep red gerrymandered districts, and the Republican Establishment whose only allegiance is to the wealthy elite. As of now, the majority of us are just hostages.

GOP House votes to recess until Feb 25, leaving FOUR DAYS to deal with the Sequester

THE HILL (Feb 15): The House and Senate each voted Friday to recess for the Presidents Day week, which means lawmakers will have just four days — once they return — to deal with the $85 billion sequester due to take effect March 1… House Democrats have spent the week arguing that the House should not recess for the week, so that it can work on a sequester replacement plan. But the House voted 222-190 on Friday morning to recess next week — every Democrat voted against it, along with just four Republicans… both the House and Senate will return at 2 p.m. Feb. 25.

When they return on Feb. 25…

WASHINGTON POST / Senate Democrats propose cuts, tax hikes on rich to avoid sequester: The proposal would raise $110 billion to replace the sequester through Jan. 2, 2014, when across-the-board cuts adopted during the 2011 debt-limit showdown would kick back in for the rest of the decade. Half the new savings would come from spending cuts, including an end to direct federal payments to farmers and deeper cuts to the Pentagon after 2015. The other half would come from tax hikes, primarily on millionaires. Households earning more than $2 million a year would have to pay at least 30 percent of their income in federal taxes.

WASHINGTON POSTThere are now four big plans to stop the sequester: 1) The new plan from Senate Democrats: Replace one year of the sequester with defense cuts, domestic cuts and tax hikes. 2) The old House GOP plan: Eliminate other government programs to replace the sequester cuts. 3) The House Democratic plan: Fend off the sequester for one year by raising taxes and cutting farm subsidies. 4) President Obama’s plan to fend off the sequester for a short while with a smaller package of cuts and tax reforms.

NATIONAL JOURNAL (Feb 11): Sequestration is now the most likely scenario, according to 78 percent of National Journal‘s National Security Insiders, who are not optimistic that Congress and the White House will reach a deal to reduce the deficit by the March 1 deadline. [...]  “If Republicans cannot get a new deal involving entitlement cuts but no added tax revenue, they prefer accepting sequestration cuts to defense programs as the price of getting some cuts to civil programs. If Democrats cannot get a deal involving more tax revenue but without entitlement cuts, they prefer accepting sequestration cuts to civil programs as the price of getting some defense cuts,” one Insider said. “And neither side thinks it can get a new deal that is acceptable to it.”

THINK PROGRESS: House Republicans have yet to roll out a new plan of their own to replace the sequester, instead pointing to a sequester replacement bill that they passed in the last Congress (that they have no plans to vote on again). The Congressional Progressive Caucus has also proposed a replacement for the sequester. Here’s a comparison of the three plans:

House Republican Plan Senate Democratic plan Congressional Progressive Caucus Plan
Replaces the sequester with only domestic spending cuts. Replaces the sequester with $110 billion in deficit reduction, equally split between spending cuts and revenue. Replaces the sequester with $960 billion in new revenue, $278 billion in defense cuts, and invests in new job creation measures.
Includes no new revenue. Denies the Child Tax Credit to parents who are undocumented immigrants. Includes $55 billion in revenue, split between: a 30 percent minimum tax on millionaires (the Buffett rule), repealing subsidies for oil companies, and eliminating the ability of corporations to deduct the cost of moving jobs overseas. Reinstates the Making Work Pay tax credit. Ends the carried interest loophole that benefits wealthy money managers, closes tax loopholes that encourage corporations to send profits to offshore tax havens, cuts oil subsidies, closes loopholes that benefit buyers of private jets and yachts, and closes loopholes in the estate tax.
Voids defense cuts. Includes $27.5 billion in cuts to defense spending. Includes $278 billion in cuts to defense spending.
Cuts domestic spending via: cutting food stamps, Medicaid, and the social services block grant (which, among other things, funds Meals on Wheels). Cuts domestic spending via ending direct agriculture subsidies, “which are currently provided regardless of yields, prices, or farm income.” Invests $160 billion in infrastructure.

…The sequester itself, meanwhile, would devastate several important programs that have already been hurt by budget cuts. Already, the deficit reduction achieved since 2010 (which is hampering economic growth and hurting job creation) has been primarily achieved through spending cuts. In fact, just one-quarter of it has come through new revenue… Only the CPC’s plan would result in deficit reduction having been achieved through equal parts spending cuts and new revenue. The CPC plan is also the only one acknowledging that job creation, not the deficit, is the country’s most pressing problem.

The GOP has been successful at cutting deficits to obstruct economic recovery

Brian Beutler says the GOP’s obsession with the deficit has HURT the economy: 

Here’s the buried lede from the Congressional Budget Office, which on Tuesday released its Budget and Economic Outlook for the coming decade: D.C.’s deficit obsession has been quite effective at cutting deficits at the expense of the still-struggling economy.

“[E]conomic activity will expand slowly this year, with real GDP growing by just 1.4 percent,” according to CBO’s projections. “That slow growth reflects a combination of ongoing improvement in underlying economic factors and fiscal tightening that has already begun or is scheduled to occur-including the expiration of a 2 percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, an increase in tax rates on income above certain thresholds, and scheduled automatic reductions in federal spending. That subdued economic growth will limit businesses’ need to hire additional workers, thereby causing the unemployment rate to stay near 8 percent this year, CBO projects.”

In other words, intentional efforts to reduce annual deficits and stabilize the debt are working. But if you retrain your gaze from the government’s balance sheet to the real economy, you’ll see the impact of that austerity is fewer people working and slower growth. According to CBO, the recovery won’t really pick up steam until next year, and the economy won’t have recovered until the end of 2017, when it will reach its output potential, and unemployment will fall to 5.5 percent.

CBO notes that the U.S. hasn’t experienced six consecutive years with unemployment exceeding 7.5 percent in over 70 years.

If you cut spending, you slow economic growth. It’s a pretty simple cause and effect. And it’s very important for the Republican Party to try and slow economic growth when a Democrat is in the Oval Office.

Greg Sargent piles on: 

President Obama continues to demand a mix of spending cuts and new revenues via the closing of loopholes, and yesterday he called on Congress to agree on a short term package of cuts and tax reforms to temporarily delay the sequester cuts, since they could cripple the recovery. GOP leaders shot this down, because they continue to refuse to countenance any new revenues. As John Boehner put it today: “The American people believe that the tax question has been settled.”

Meanwhile, other Republicans are taking other steps to avoid agreeing to new revenues. Republicans on the Senate and House Armed Services Committee will unveil a plan today to avert the sequester for one year by paying for it with … a 10 percent across the board reduction in the federal workforce. (That would do wonders for the recovery.)

So, here’s a chart, created by House progressives, that perfectly captures just how absurd it is that Republicans insist only on spending cuts to replace the sequester, while refusing to entertain a penny in new revenues from the rich. It shows what happened during the last two Congressional rounds of deficit reduction:


The first circle represents the more than $1.5 trillion in spending cuts Dems agreed to, in exchange for zero in new revenues, as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011. The second circle portrays the state of play after Republicans agreed to some $700 billion in new revenues as part of the recent fiscal cliff deal. As you can see, the ledger is still tilted lopsidedly in favor of Republicans: Some 70 percent of the deficit reduction we’ve seen thus far came in the form of spending cuts Republicans want, while only 30 percent came in the form of the new revenues Democrats want.

Here’s what this means: Even if the parties reach a deal in the third round of deficit reduction to avert the sequester with something approaching an equivalent sum of spending cuts and new revenues, the overall deficit reduction balance would still be heavily lopsided towards Republicans. Yet they continue to insist on resolving round three only through cuts, anyway.

As Steve Benen notes, we know this sequester would do severe damage to the economy, because the Congressional Budget Office has told us so, and because the recent economic contraction also confirmed this.