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February 26, 2013 9:20 AM Learning To Embrace the Stupidity

By Ed Kilgore

So last time we checked on congressional plans for dealing with the appropriations sequester, there was (in my mind at least) a tiny glimmer of light in that Senate Republicans were interested in giving the administration the flexibility to implement the cuts in a less stupid manner than making them across-the-board for all programs not made exempt in the original legislation. But we were told that Senate Democrats would no go along because they didn’t want to make the administration responsible for the winners and losers in such decisions, and that House Republicans hated the idea, too, because they feared Alinskyite in the White House would find ways to screw them over.

But I must report today that the situation has changed: yes, Senate Republicans are backing away from any “flexibility” proposal, too, because they just can’t give power away, even the power to be less stupid and destructive.

Politico’s got a story today from David Rogers and Manu Raju quoted GOP senator after senator objecting to this “abdication:”

Big Republican names in the Senate warned Monday against giving away congressional power in order to escape responsibility for the adverse impact of automatic spending cuts expected to go into effect Friday.
Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona both expressed strong concerns in anticipation of a party discussion Tuesday on draft legislation to give President Barack Obama greater flexibility to deal with the crisis. By doing so, the leadership hopes to shift the onus onto Obama to administer the cuts, but letting go of power to give the president that discretion is hard to do.
“I spent long hours writing the defense [authorization] bill,” McCain told POLITICO, “I’m not about to give up my constitutional obligations to the President of the United States.”
“I think the appropriations process belongs in the legislative branch,” Rubio said in a separate interview. “And to give the administration carte blanche to decide what they’re going to fund and not fund, as you’re already seeing in some of the statements they’re putting out, they’re trying to in some ways to maximize the destruction that this creates for political purposes.”

Assuming this is way the wind is blowing among Senate Republicans, it does make the partisan differences on the sequester less complicated: Democrats don’t want the sequester, and have proposed a “balanced” package of spending cuts and revenue loophole-closing measures to replace it. Republicans more or less welcome the sequester in all its hideous glory (while graciously crediting the president with coming up with the idea), and will oppose replacing it with anything other than a domestic-spending-cuts-only substitute. It’s not too hard to see which party is gradually coming to embrace the stupidity.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Ronald on February 26, 2013 9:44 AM:

    The only 'light' in any of this is if the Replublicans do their usual 'song and dance' up to the last minute, like the 'fiscal cliff' discussions, then agree to whatever they can get away with so they can get it on the nearest news cycle how they 'thwarted Obama from destroying America with the sequester'.
    *shrug*
    I am so cynical about the Republicans right now having any hope that they give a shit for anything other than the wealthy. Its just sad.

  • Josef K on February 26, 2013 9:50 AM:

    Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona both expressed strong concerns in anticipation of a party discussion Tuesday on draft legislation to give President Barack Obama greater flexibility to deal with the crisis.

    Please note the Senators involved here. I put emphasis on the office held to remind everyone how these are the well-off guys whose livelihoods aren't in any danger from this idiocy.

    Honestly, I haven't been this disgusted with politicos since I read the life and times of the Right Honourable Francis Underwood, MP.

  • c u n d gulag on February 26, 2013 10:10 AM:

    Yes, what champions of Congressional power today's Republican Senators are!

    If this situation were at all funny, I'd probably pee myself silly, hearing that Republican Senators are "against giving away congressional power" to this President, after they basically gave their King George W. everything he ever wanted - including two wars and occupations, tax breaks for the rich, and a huge windfall to Big Pharma - all on credit.

    And now, due to W's, and their own, irresponsible actions, the nation faces some relatively minor debt issues (when placed in historical context) - which would quickly be resolved if we had a much lower rate of unemployment!!!

    But, today's Republican Senators are like the Doctors of old, who insist that the best cure for any and every thing, is a good old fashioned "leeching" - ESPECIALLY in cases where the patient is anemic!!!!!


  • Peter C on February 26, 2013 10:12 AM:

    The obvious and easy solution to the sequester is simply to UNDO IT. The difficulty with this is that doing so would be EMBARRASING for the lawmakers who crafted it solely for political reasons. Disgustingly, House Republicans prefer an unnecessary, self-inflicted economic slump that will affect us all over personal embarrasment.

    Their games are more important to them than our lives.

    And, NO, it's not both sides. The solution must be legislation and they've produced NOTHING for Obama to sign.

  • mb on February 26, 2013 10:33 AM:

    There are many reasons why having a more "flexible" sequestration would be a bad thing. Here are a couple:

    1. Very time consuming and a bureaucratic nightmare. It seems like it'd be obvious which programs would be ok to eliminate and which to fund, but I think it'd turn every agency into a battleground as program directors fight for funding.

    2. The Obama Admin would bear the blame from those whose oxes were inevitably gored. Remember all the nonsense about how Obama was targeting car dealers that contributed to the GOP during the auto bailout? This would make that look bush league.

    Better a meataxe than a scalpel in this case, I'm afraid.

  • PErspecticus on February 26, 2013 10:57 AM:

    " “I’m not about to give up my constitutional obligations to the President of the United States.”

    **cough** Iraq **coughcough**

  • david1234 on February 26, 2013 11:11 AM:

    I think the idea of any gratuitous punishment of the American people because those in Washington are unable to agree is ridiculous. They should punish themselves instead.

  • Mark_NC on February 26, 2013 1:30 PM:

    I think you underestimate the ability of stupid people to not recognize stupidity when it slaps them in the face.

  • jonH on February 26, 2013 2:18 PM:

    In 1998 the Supreme Court found the Line Item Veto Act of 1996 to be unconstitutional, since congress was delegating a power to the prez ( a no-no; this was only explicity cited in Scalia's partial concurrence), and would result in a bill whose unmodified text had been O.K.'ed by both houses.

    I can hope ot squeeze more joy from this if the president is empowered to determine cuts, a disgruntled cut-ee sues, and a court finds the scheme illegal and puts a stay on the whole circus while the verdict is appealed.

    In the meantime, Obama can note that those who can afford to frequently travel by air aren't the democrat's core constituents.

    (My mission: to boldly split infinitives that have never been split before!)

  • BongoBob on February 26, 2013 2:20 PM:

    Good article, and I agree with the premise and the conclusions.
    But the sentence: "... Senate Republicans are backing away from any “flexibility” proposal, too, because they just can’t give power away, even the power to be less stupid and destructive"

    Take out the word "less" and the sentence makes more sense. Better yet, re-write the sentence better clarity.