Sequestration-- Whose Fault?
Boehner is trying to claim the whole Sequestration fiasco was Obama's idea. Yesterday he offered some really horrible alternative to the president's proposal to edge out of it. Boehner's counteroffer was a one year moratorium in return for a 10% reduction in the federal workforce. And he wasn't offering to resign himself or offering the names of 10% of Republicans in Congress who would go. The Republican Party-- and conservatives in general-- have a first instinct and a default position: make the common people suffer... bring on the pain-- and more pain.
Cutting back on federal spending is exactly what Europeans are doing now, particularly in triple-dip recession-plagued Britain, in Greece, in Spain, in Ireland, in Italy... It's called the Austerity Agenda, although here in the U.S. it's called the Paul Ryan Budget. And it has the same impact everywhere: catastrophic economic and fiscal results and a rending of the social fabric itself. Are Republicans really that steeped in ignorance?
The sequester passed on the evening of August 1, 2011. 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for it. 95 Democrats also opposed it (as did 66 Republicans). Boehner, as Speaker, wasn't expected to vote. But he did. He wanted to make a point. He voted YES. So did all his top lieutenants: Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Whip Kevin McCarthy, NRCC head Pete Sessions, Party Conference Chair Jeb Hensarling, Budget chair Paul Ryan, Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon, Ways and Means Committee chair Dave Camp, Energy and Commerce Committee chair Fred Upton, Financial Services Committee chair Spencer Bachus, Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen... Boehner's entire inner circle of elite GOP leaders voted for the sequestration.
Leading the opposition were progressive Caucus leaders Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Donna Edwards, Chellie Pingree, Jim McDermott, Dennis Kucinich, John Lewis, Jerry Nadler, Barney Frank, Jan Schakowsky, Xavier Becerra, Judy Chu, Ed Markey, John Yarmuth, Brad Miller, Yvette Clarke, Barbara Lee... and the Republicans who voted with them against this? Outliers like Ron Paul, Tom McClintock, Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, Louie Gohmert, Paul Broun, Joe Walsh, Jeff Duncan, Mo Brooks, Lynn Westmoreland, Steve King, Quayle's kid, Mick Mulvaney, Justin Amash, the freaks and loons that the GOP Establishment would like to muzzle and neutralize.
Last time Boehner agreed to put off the automatic spending cuts-- remember that fiscal cliff thing?-- it barely passed 215-209 and it's not likely Boehner could muster a majority (217 votes) again... unless he works with Pelosi to make it acceptable to Democrats. Last time, not even one Democrat voted for it. 21 Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing Boehner's peculiar vision of dysfunction, gridlock and pain:
• Justin Amash (R-MI), who hasn't warmed up to Boehner or his agenda since thenThere was a net gain of 8 Democrats this year-- and some of the new Republicans are even less likely to back Boehner-- think Stockman, Radel, Yoho, for examples-- than the ones who were defeated or retired. And Boehner's not getting guys like Amash, Huelskamp, Jones, or Massie to switch votes and do him any favors. Obama wants Congress to put off the sequestration fight for a year and to instead pass a mix of new revenues (closing loopholes, etc) and sensible spending cuts like ending subsidies for Big Oil. He said they could easily achieve $85 billion in savings that way. But Boehner and his team want to see real pain for working families, not cuts to subsidies and increases in payments to their corporate buddies. They're looking at ending benefits to veterans, privatizing Social Security and Medicare, ending Medicaid... you know, the right-wing bluster that Paul Ryan gets to pass off as his "big ideas" in the "serious" media.
• Paul Broun (R-Pit of Hell), who's on his own anti-America planet
• Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
• Jimmy Duncan (R-TN), who is frequently at odds with Boehner
• Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA), who is one of the few, now that the election is over, who can be brought around to Boehner's position
• Chris Gibson (R-NY)
• Louie Gohmert (R-TX), see Paul Broun above
• Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
• Tim Hueleskamp (R-KS), sworn Boehner enemy
• Tim Johnson (R-IL), retired
• Walter Jones (R-NC), routinely ignores Boehner and votes his own conscience
• Raul Labrador (R-ID), libertarian with an anti-Boehner agenda of his own
• Jeff Landry, defeated for reelection
• Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
• Tom Massie (R-KY), see Raul Labrador and Justin Amash
• Ron Paul (R-TX), retired
• Todd Platts (R-PA), retired
• Dave Schweikert (R-AZ), bristling with hard feelings towards Boehner
• Joe Walsh (R-IL), defeated for reelection
• Ed Whitfield (R-KY)
• Frank Wolf (R-VA)
Republicans and Obama are both eager to avoid blame if the cuts go into effect. Reduced defense spending led to a contraction in the U.S. economy at the end of last year, and the Congressional Budget Office has estimated allowing the $85 billion in cuts to go forward would reduce GDP by 0.7 percent. The GOP insists it could move legislation through the House again but that it’s time for Obama and Senate Democrats to approve their own replacement plan.
“The House has acted twice on replacing the sequester,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “Now, it’s time for the Senate and the White House to act.”
Republicans have become more reluctant to pass legislation that will almost certainly be dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate, and they want to force senators to take the sort of tough votes they believe happened in the House over the last two years.
Rank-and-file Republicans are frustrated that Senate Democrats have not approved a budget resolution for four years, and they lashed out at Obama this week for missing his deadline to present a budget this year. Democrats in the Senate haven’t produced a budget for fear it would expose splits in the party. The GOP is also frustrated because it views sequestration as the White House’s idea.
Republicans are emphasizing this week that sequestration was demanded by the White House as part of the 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling. They argue Obama and Senate Democrats should offer spending cuts to prevent it.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) stressed that the GOP would rather let the sequester go into effect than consent to more revenues after agreeing to a “fiscal cliff” deal that raised taxes on wealthier households.
“The president got tax increases without spending cuts 45 days ago. He ought to be able to take spending cuts without revenues today,” Cole told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s either going to be the sequester as written, or a preferable reallocation of the spending cuts. But it’s going to be spending cuts,” he added.
Yet there are splits within the GOP over how hard the party should work to prevent the cuts.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who voted against the 2011 debt-ceiling deal because of sequestration, is not optimistic it will be stopped.
“There’s a reason a few of us voted against it, and it wasn’t just to say we voted against it,” said Hunter, who criticized Boehner last month for declaring that defense hawks would support letting sequestration happen. “We thought, ‘Once this thing starts, there’s no stopping it.’ And that’s exactly what happened now.”
Still, Republican defense hawks in the House and Senate also did not back the president’s latest call for new revenues as part of a short-term sequester deal.
TOMORROW: PART II... IN WHICH WE LOOK AT HOW JIM DOBSON'S S&M ADDICTION HAS MADE THE GOP WHAT IT IS TODAY
From Part II: A small quote from Dobson himself-- "Pain is a marvelous purifier." And we'll attempt to understand why almost all evangelical voters in Louisiana endorsed and reelected a U.S. senator who habitually hired high-priced hookers for many years to dress him in diapers and spank him while he spoiled himself.