ChrisWeigant.com

Sequester Them All!

[ Posted Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 – 17:46 PST ]

Republican politicians seem to be making less sense than usual these days, especially when the subject being discussed is President Obama. No matter what Obama does -- or does not do -- it is wrong, according to Republicans. Oh, and everything bad is Obama's fault -- can't forget that one, either.

This was painfully on display last Sunday morning's political chatfests, when the Republicans rolled out their talking points on two different subjects. On the budget, Obama is "failing to lead." On immigration, Obama's attempts to lead are "dead on arrival" -- sight unseen. Got that? Obama has to lead, but when he does lead, Republicans will kill any proposal with his name on it, just because. The doublethink is jaw-dropping in scope. The final one is even more laughable: the upcoming "sequester" is Obama's idea, and is therefore all his fault.

This is all part of the ancient Washington "blame game," of course, where you try to take credit for everything good, and pin all blame for bad things on your political opponents. When a good law is passed, everyone wants to make sure their fingerprints are visibly all over it. When bad laws are passed, everyone must have worn gloves the day it was put together, because there are no fingerprints on it at all.

Let's start with the sequester. The Republican position is now that Obama thought it up, and Obama signed it, therefore it is "Obama's sequester." John Boehner even briefly tried to get everyone to call it the "Obamaquester," which (thankfully) failed miserably. But Boehner and all the other Republicans are willfully ignoring two rather important facts. The first is that the Republican House voted for the sequester. Haven't heard about this? No doubt this is due to the fact that Republicans are ignoring the fact, and that the mainstream media can't remember what it had for breakfast -- never mind anything as far back as two years ago. But it doesn't make it any less true. The Republicans in the House supported and passed the sequester. Meaning neither party is solely "responsible" for it happening, or at the very least both parties share the blame equally.

The lion's share of blame for the sequester we now face, in fact, goes to Congress itself. The sequester was designed to be a threat that never actually happened. Instead, the "super committee" was supposed to come up with a deal. They didn't. They failed. The super committee was composed of members of Congress from both parties. They couldn't manage to do their job. This is where any blame lies, and you'll notice that Barack Obama wasn't even in the room when that failure happened. The moral of this particular story is: this is what happens when Congress tries to agree, without the president's leadership in the mix. They come up with nothing.

Marco Rubio personifies the Republican reaction when Obama does lead. Rubio would like everyone to know that he's working really, really hard on putting together a comprehensive immigration reform bill. But that's as far as he appears willing (or able) to go. He just wants everyone to know he's working real hard on a bill -- a bill which never seems to appear. Rubio has been in the Senate for a while now, and has (to the best of my knowledge) never actually come up with any immigration bill at all. He just likes to be seen working on one, that's all.

Rubio had been in Congress for over a year when Obama announced last year that he was offering some temporary relief to the "Dreamers," because the actual DREAM Act had not passed Congress. Rubio was reportedly working on his own version of the DREAM Act. He never had an actual piece of legislation, mind you, but he wanted everyone to know he was working hard on it. He hit the roof when Obama acted, because it took the issue away from Rubio. But it didn't have to. Obama's executive action didn't solve the problem permanently -- everyone agreed on that. So why didn't Rubio immediately offer up a bill which would have fixed the Dreamers' problem for good? He could have campaigned on what a wonderful plan the Republicans had, and beaten up on Obama rhetorically for how far his action fell short of the goal. He did not do so. He never introduced a bill at all.

Now he's gotten seven other senators together, and they're all working real hard on drafting a bill. Which is what is important to Rubio -- being seen working on a bill, while never actually producing draft legislation. The White House, this past weekend, leaked portions of a draft of their own bill. Rubio, again, hit the roof. He pronounced any bill from Obama "dead on arrival" in Congress. Sight unseen -- just because Obama was for it, Republicans would be against it, period, end of sentence.

Rubio's main conundrum is that anything he proposes is going to be virulently attacked by members of his own party. It really doesn't matter what Rubio proposes, there are going to be House Republicans on the airwaves the same day denouncing it as "amnesty" (or worse). When you provide details, then those details will be attacked. Which is why it's safer for Rubio not to produce a bill. No details, no problem. You can continue to vaguely talk about solving the problem without actual details, which is what really counts for Rubio.

Obama is signaling that he's only going to play Rubio's game for a limited amount of time, and then he is going to go right ahead and lead on the issue. If Rubio is indeed serious about reforming immigration, then he will push the other seven senators to agree on a draft bill in the next month or two. If he does not, then Obama will introduce his own bill. If it fails, then America (including all those Latino voters) will be able to see who votes for it and who votes against it. And Republicans can attempt to explain their votes at the next election. If Rubio never introduces his own bill, then the Republicans will not be able to say they support a different plan -- because it is hard to make that argument when the plan does not exist.

Hearing Republicans call for Obama to "show some leadership" is pretty funny, after considering what is going on with immigration. Republicans define "show some leadership" as "please propose 100 percent of what Republicans want and zero percent of what Democrats want, and we'll vote on it -- and then blame you later for it." This is also how they used to define "compromise," until that word became absolutely taboo for Republicans to ever speak.

John Boehner recently called on the president to offer up a "detailed plan that can pass Congress," chock-full of spending cuts and with no new revenues. Republicans have been playing this game for a while -- they are all for "spending cuts" in the abstract, but they refuse to actually lay out, in detail, what they're going to cut. Even the Paul Ryan budget that Republicans love to point to left enormous blank spots that essentially said: "we'll cut a bunch of money here, but we're not going to tell you what we're going to cut." There's a very good reason for this -- while the public approves of "cutting government spending" in the abstract, they are far less eager to do so when asked which individual programs they'd like to see cut. Republicans know this, which is why they refuse to provide details (see: Mitt Romney's entire campaign).

They think they've now hit upon an answer. Graciously allow the president to lay out all the particulars of the cuts, and then they will (reluctantly, one assumes) vote for the plan. Later, if there is any public outcry over any individual cut, they can point to the president and say "Obama cut that, not us." This way, they get their cake (budget cuts) and get to eat it too (blame Obama for any downside).

This isn't going to happen, needless to say. Even if Obama did wake up one morning and decide to put together a draft bill with everything Republicans wanted, the chances are they'd vote it down anyway, just because it came from him. Obama knows this. He learned this lesson in his first term in office. He knows that the only way any deal is going to happen is if he gets Boehner and all the other leadership in a room to hammer something out -- with gloves on -- that will have nobody's clear fingerprints on when it emerges.

This is the sequester that should happen. Think "sequester" in the way it is normally used, as in "sequestering" a jury. If Republicans refuse to follow Obama's lead, and refuse to provide leadership on their own, then this is the only way anything's going to get done for the next two years. Lock them in a room, and don't let them out until they've come up with a solution that actually does have a chance of gaining the necessary votes.

Of course, this probably won't happen either. With the sequester looming, Congress is in the middle of a week-long vacation. Just like they took a big vacation right before the fiscal cliff. If we were really serious about solving our budget problems, we should be treating Obama and the congressional leadership like a jury right now. Lock them in, don't let them contact anyone in the outside world, pay them less than minimum wage, and feed them bad deli sandwiches and coffee until they come up with a solution. Take away their cell phones and other electronic devices. Maybe limit bathroom breaks, too. Now that's a "sequester" that might actually work wonders.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

14 Comments on “Sequester Them All!”

  1. [1] 
    michty6 wrote:

    No idea what you were on when you were writing this but more of this please! Hardly anything the nut-case Republicans or the Tea-Party in the House do deserves to be taken seriously. I particularly liked:

    Republicans define "show some leadership" as "please propose 100 percent of what Republicans want and zero percent of what Democrats want, and we'll vote on it -- and then blame you later for it."

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    No matter what Obama does -- or does not do -- it is wrong, according to Republicans. Oh, and everything bad is Obama's fault -- can't forget that one, either.

    Change "Republican" to "Democrat" and "Obama" to "Bush" and you will have an apt description of the Bush years and beyond...

    This was painfully on display last Sunday morning's political chatfests, when the Republicans rolled out their talking points on two different subjects. On the budget, Obama is "failing to lead." On immigration, Obama's attempts to lead are "dead on arrival" -- sight unseen. Got that? Obama has to lead, but when he does lead, Republicans will kill any proposal with his name on it, just because. The doublethink is jaw-dropping in scope.

    It makes perfect sense when one considers that "Obama" and "leadership" are mutually exclusive...

    Obama and the Democrats came up with the idea of the sequester. As David pointed out so eloquently that was the "compromise"....

    NOW, when it looks like it's going to happen, they are all whiney and bitchy about it and trying to blame the GOP for it..

    In your Rove commentary yesterday, David made a list of why Republicans are bad.. #3 was "The amount of hubris"

    I pointed out that Democrats are equally guilty of this and this is a perfect example..

    Obama and Democrats have made their bed. Now they are whining that they might actually have to lie in it..

    The first is that the Republican House voted for the sequester.

    Then that seems to belay the idea that Republicans are against ANYTHING Obama...

    It works both ways... :D

    Meaning neither party is solely "responsible" for it happening, or at the very least both parties share the blame equally.

    Exactly...

    So, Obama and the Democrats whining and blaming Republicans is JUST as ridiculous as Boehner and the Republicans whining and blaming Obama...

    Wouldn't you agree???

    The problem is a failure in leadership.

    If he does not, then Obama will introduce his own bill.

    Obama DID introduce his own bill.. At least his administration ran a bill up the flagpole in a "leak"..

    It was as popular as Obama's budget's have been..

    John Boehner recently called on the president to offer up a "detailed plan that can pass Congress," chock-full of spending cuts and with no new revenues. Republicans have been playing this game for a while

    And Democrats have been playing the game for a while where they detail a plan "chock full" of taxes with no spending cuts...

    I have a new acronym...

    IWBW :D

    Here is the problem that Obama and the Democrats simply REFUSE to see..

    You can't get to fiscal responsibility without spending cuts on entitlement programs..

    Taxes alone WILL not create fiscal responsibility..

    All taxes do is just give the administration more money to spend..

    This isn't going to happen, needless to say. Even if Obama did wake up one morning and decide to put together a draft bill with everything Republicans wanted, the chances are they'd vote it down anyway, just because it came from him.

    And yet, the GOP DID vote for something that came from Obama...

    Of course, this probably won't happen either. With the sequester looming, Congress is in the middle of a week-long vacation. Just like they took a big vacation right before the fiscal cliff. If we were really serious about solving our budget problems, we should be treating Obama and the congressional leadership like a jury right now. Lock them in, don't let them contact anyone in the outside world, pay them less than minimum wage, and feed them bad deli sandwiches and coffee until they come up with a solution. Take away their cell phones and other electronic devices. Maybe limit bathroom breaks, too. Now that's a "sequester" that might actually work wonders.

    Completely agree..

    Republicans aren't THE problem...

    Democrats aren't THE problem...

    THE problem is that our leaders seem to think that Party ideology is more important than the welfare of the country...

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/you-may-be-right-mr-president-but-this-is-crazy-20130220

    THIS ^^^ is the problem....

    Michale

  3. [3] 
    SF Bear wrote:

    I must be in the wrong place, I thought this was supposed to be reality based political commentary. Why is it even permissible to mention entitlements i.e. Social Security and Medicare in the same sentence as the budget? Everyone knows that there is no connection between the two, none, nada. There is no Social Security line item in the budget. To argue that "You can't get to fiscal responsibility without spending cuts on entitlement programs.." is like trying to argue that a fish needs a radio.

    Even if you are talking about Social Security (as opposed to the budget)the statement is untrue. There are a least a half a dozen ways to insure the long term stability of that program without cutting benefits.

    Discussing and solving difficult political problems is challenging under the best of circumstances, it becomes imposable if we operate in parallel realities.

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    I must be in the wrong place, I thought this was supposed to be reality based political commentary. Why is it even permissible to mention entitlements i.e. Social Security and Medicare in the same sentence as the budget?

    Democrats must challenge their orthodoxy as well. While annual revenues are roughly what they were in 2006 — just a few years ago — spending has increased by $1 trillion every year since 2008.… We must recognize that even though raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans makes good politics, it does little to solve our nation’s financial crisis…. All of us receive the benefits so all of us must share the sacrifice — either in the form of higher taxes or lower government benefits.
    http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/you-may-be-right-mr-president-but-this-is-crazy-20130220

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Let me repeat that for the cheap seats..

    ALL OF US RECEIVE THE BENEFITS SO ALL OF US MUST SHARE THE SACRIFICE - EITHER IN THE FORM OF HIGHER TAXES OR LOWER GOVERNMENT BENEFITS

    Where's the vaunted principle of COMPROMISE ya'all go on and on about?

    As I predicted the only compromise the Left is interested in is having the RIGHT make all the compromises...

    That's not compromise..

    That's tyranny...

    Michale

  6. [6] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    michty6 [1] -

    Heh. Actually, it was a sense of "I'm free!" See my comment (that I am about to write) on Thursday's column entitled "Status Update" for more details as to why I was in this particular frame of mind.

    And, inquiring minds want to know -- what did you think of the whole "before Republicans decided it was a taboo word" thing as well? This is how they used to define (and how they got the media to define, across the board, I might add) "compromise," say, two or three years ago.

    Michale [2] -

    Once again, you're guilty of what you're accusing others of doing. Who has mentioned Bush for the past six months? Other than you? Heh. That knife cuts both ways, pal.

    And, actually, the only whiny and bitchy types I've seen on my teevee screen recently are the Republicans complaining that it's "Obama's sequester" without explaining how they ALL VOTED FOR IT. 73 percent of the House Republicans voted for it. So please explain, how is this all the Democrats' fault?

    If you'll note in the article, I pin the blame on "both parties in Congress" -- who are ultimately responsible for the fix we now find ourselves in. The House is Republican. If they hadn't agreed to the sequester, it NEVER would have happened. Sorry, but those are the facts.

    To put it in your terms: "Obama suggested the bed. Harry Reid got the bed through the Senate with half the Republicans voting for it. John Boehner got it through the House with over 170 Republican votes. Now Congress has to lie in the bed that EVERYONE made." Your bias is showing again, because you refuse to admit that there are, indeed, Republican fingerprints ALL OVER this bed. Democrat too, but let's be a little reality-based, here.

    OK, I read further in your comment, and you do seem to spread the blame around a bit, so maybe that was too harsh. Still...

    On immigration, Obama DID NOT introduce a bill. Neither did the "Gang of Eight" or as I like to call them, "DC-8". They're all running things up the flagpole. What's the problem? They're all equally entitled to do so, no matter what your petulant senator thinks.

    So far, Obama's ideas are more popular on the subject than the GOPs. Fact.

    SF Bear -

    Good to hear from another voice in the conversation! At first I thought you were taking me to task with that reality-based comment, but then I read Michale's comment. You should be aware that the reality-based guarantee only applies to the columns, not the comments.

    Heh. Heh heh.

    :-)

    -CW

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Once again, you're guilty of what you're accusing others of doing. Who has mentioned Bush for the past six months? Other than you? Heh. That knife cuts both ways, pal.

    Yes it does.. IWBW :D

    As far as mentioning Bush, do you mean here in Weigantia or amongst Democrats..

    Because, to this day, Bush is STILL being blamed for the state of this country by Obama and the Democrats...

    OK, I read further in your comment, and you do seem to spread the blame around a bit, so maybe that was too harsh. Still...

    's OK... I is a big boy.. :D

    On immigration, Obama DID NOT introduce a bill.

    I never said he did. But he DID come up with a plan.. And it was "leaked" to the public and was about as popular as Obama's budgets... :D

    So far, Obama's ideas are more popular on the subject than the GOPs. Fact.

    Not really?? Obama's ideas were so bad, his spokescritters had to disavow that it wasn't really a plan at all.

    At first I thought you were taking me to task with that reality-based comment, but then I read Michale's comment. You should be aware that the reality-based guarantee only applies to the columns, not the comments.

    Ouch! And the ref takes a point away!! :D

    But seriously, what do you think of the article??

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/you-may-be-right-mr-president-but-this-is-crazy-20130220

    Reading it, I got the feeling it was coming from you.. :D

    Michale

  8. [8] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    OK, I'll bite. What's "IWBW"?

    On immigration, check the polling. Obama's plan is a lot closer to what the American public is behind than anything Rubio's put out. To say nothing of the extremist Republicans in the House...

    I'll check your article link out, but I gotta get to bed now...

    -CW

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK, I'll bite. What's "IWBW"?

    It Works Both Ways :D

    I'll get to the other once I am at my shop..

    Michale

  10. [10] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Because, to this day, Bush is STILL being blamed for the state of this country by Obama and the Democrats...

    And Hoover is still being blamed for the great depression. When it happens on your watch...

    Plus, I still occasionally read some Clinton blame in comments now and then.

    Whatever. Politics. Very entertaining. If they all agreed and did a perfect job, we would not be here.

    But seriously, what do you think of the article??

    Actually, not too bad. Much better than the usual far right opinion pieces you post. The two main problems I have with it is:

    The President is not a CEO. The US Constitution specifically limits and grants his powers in a way that using the term "Chief Executive" for both jobs does not make the duties and powers of those jobs synonymous. He can try to influence but in the end, budgets, debts and taxes are specifically congresses domain.

    Two, until a significant portion of the pentagon is on the block, spending cuts are meaningless. I see lots of talk about cutting the left's sacred cows but nothing about cutting the right's sacred cows. Until that changes, there is no real compromise. It has to happen from congress. The president is using the military at the moment and will not try to reduce it. Nor is it his job to try...

    But a huge problem with cutting the federal government in significant amounts, is what do you do with large sudden increase in unemployment? The automatic spending cuts, according to the article you posted would end up with 700,000 people losing their jobs. Economic recovery, reduction of unemployment, cutting the deficit and reducing the size of government are all great goals but they interact with each other in ways that doing them all at the same time will be somewhere between counter productive and impossible.

  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    Actually, not too bad. Much better than the usual far right opinion pieces you post.

    So... You like the article... :D

    Michale

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Seriously, though...

    The article is spot on because it identifies the problem with BOTH PARTYs in the pursuit of an agreement that is most beneficial to the country...

    Ironically enough, it says what I have been saying here for years...

    The problem is NOT Republicans...

    The problem is NOT Democrats..

    The problem is politicians pursuing Party agendas and serving Party ideology at the expense of the country...

    THAT is why we are always in conflict..

    Because ya'all still believe that a Democrat politician is better than a Republican politician...

    And ya'all believe this despite absolutely NO supporting evidence and a MASSIVE amount of evidence that indicates the contrary...

    Michale

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    (I can't resist...)

    No, no. The problem as I see it is: SOME Democrats and MOST Republicans.

    Heh.

    -CW

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    No, no. The problem as I see it is: SOME Democrats and MOST Republicans.

    I'll meet you halfway...

    The problem as I see it is: SOME/MOST Democrats and MOST/SOME Republicans.

    :D

    Seriously, the problem is politicians who look out for A> their own selfish interests, B> their Party's selfish interests and a very VERY distant 3rd, the welfare of the country...

    Why is it that the vast majority of newly elected CongressCritters become millionaires virtually overnight???

    I saids it befores and I'll says it agains....

    The *ONLY* difference between a Democrat and a Republican is who buys them...

    CW, you have said it yourself. Remember your NASCAR Congress idea???

    Me?? I know that all politicians are crooked and corrupt..

    YA'LL still believe that it's only Republicans that are crooked and corrupt...

    Ya'all are in error...

    Michale

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