… They have always wanted the sequester. How can I prove it? Easy.
1. They voted for it. Overwhelmingly. And I’m talking about in the House, where the more ideological wing of the party resides. Look: here’s the House roll call. The entire leadership voted for it. Paul Ryan voted for it. In all, 174 Republicans voted for it versus just 66 who voted no, while the Democrats in the House split 95-95. In the Senate, the vote was 74-26, and the Republicans like Rand Paul and James Imhofe who voted no did so because THE CUTS WERE TOO SMALL…
2. Their leader in the House, John Boehner, said they wanted it, and he did so contemporaneously, when he thought the politics were different. After the Senate passed its version of it (“it” being the Budget Control Act of 2011) on August 2, 2011 – One Day before the U.S. would have defaulted on our sovereign debt Speaker Boehner said he’d gotten 98 percent of what he wanted in the sequester bill, and he was “pretty happy.”
Boehner is now trying to walk, no, run, back on that happy, even seeking to pawn the whole sequester thing off on President Obama. Ad of course he’s getting help from unabashedly dishonest righties like the often smart, but also crass and dishonest Erick Erickson and his equally crass and dishonest friends.
But isn’t what Boehner really hates about the sequester the things he and his GOP friends somehow managed to leave out? You know, the way they got snookered into exempting the things they really want to cut? Byron York explains:
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner describes the upcoming sequester as a policy “that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.”
Which leads to the question: Why would Republicans support a measure that threatens national security and thousands of jobs? Boehner and the GOP are determined to allow the $1.2 trillion sequester go into effect unless President Obama and Democrats agree to replacement cuts, of an equal amount, that target entitlement spending. If that doesn’t happen — and it seems entirely unlikely — the sequester goes into effect, with the GOP’s blessing.
Or as David Frum puts it:
Republicans want to move early to a balanced budget. They want to reach balance through spending cuts only, no tax increases. And they want the spending cuts to fall more heavily on social programs than defense, while exempting Medicare and Social Security for current beneficiaries.
See that’s the thing. Republicans are mad because the sequester hits military spending hard, but doesn’t touch “entitlements.” But again, they let that happen… by voting for it.
Which brings me to the third way I know Republicans really want the sequester to happen:
3. The money and “ideas” wings of their party say they want it.
In addition, Boehner calls the cuts “deep,” when most conservatives emphasize that for the next year they amount to about $85 billion out of a $3,600 billion budget. Which leads to another question: Why would Boehner adopt the Democratic description of the cuts as “deep” when they would touch such a relatively small part of federal spending?
See, York doesn’t think these cuts are draconian at all. Like Rand Paul, he thinks they’re a drop in a austerity bucket. And he’s not alone. Here’s my pal Larry Kudlow:
The Obama administration is whipping up hysteria over the sequester budget cuts and their impact on the economy, the military, first providers, and so forth and so on. Armageddon. But if you climb into the Congressional Budget Office numbers for 2013, you see a much lighter and easier picture than all the worst-case scenarios being conjured up by the administration.
… For example, the $85 billion so-called spending cut is actually budget authority, not budget outlays. According to the CBO, budget outlays will come down by $44 billion, or one-quarter of 1 percent of GDP (GDP is $15.8 trillion). What’s more, that $44 billion outlay reduction is only 1.25 percent of the $3.6 trillion government budget.
So the actual outlay reduction is only half the budget-authority savings. The rest of it will spend out in the years ahead — that is, if Congress doesn’t tamper with it.
And please remember that these so-called cuts come off a rising budget baseline in most cases. So the sequester would slow the growth of spending. They’re not real cuts in the level of spending. (Not that a level reduction is a bad idea.)
Looking at the sequester in this light, it’s clear that it won’t result in economic Armageddon. In fact, I’ll make the case that any spending relief is actually pro-growth. That’s right. When the government spending share of GDP declines, so does the true tax burden on the economy. As a result, more resources are left in the free-market private sector, which will promote real growth. …
…and then he launches into some stuff about his favorite president, Calvin Coolidge.
Kudlow speaks for the Mitt Romney wing of the GOP – the grandees who pay the bills while tea partiers burble at John McCain’s immigration town halls. He speaks for the Wall Streeters who are the real inventors of the tea party anyway. And he LOVES the sequester.
There’s one more way to tell that Republicans want the “austerity with less fingerprints” that is the sequester, to happen: they’re not doing much to stop it.