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February 20, 2013 10:48 AM No Shutdown, At Least

By Ed Kilgore

If you’ve been wondering, as I have, about whether Republicans would engineer a government-shutdown-threatening fight over the continuing resolution on appropriations that runs out on March 31, even if an appropriations sequester goes into effect earlier, here’s the apparent answer from The Hill’s Alexander Bolton:

Republicans have decided that the sequester scheduled for March 1 — not a government-funding bill due at the end of March — is where they’ll make their stand on spending cuts.
After the bruising political battles of the last Congress, GOP leaders have decided the looming automatic spending cuts provide the best leverage to move President Obama to negotiate on costly entitlement programs.
“Republicans are not going to take a stand on a government shutdown. We’re not going to take a stand on the debt ceiling. We’re going to take a stand on the sequester,” said a Republican senator, who requested anonymity to discuss his party’s strategy.

Now Republicans are talking like the idea here is to force the White House to offer them “entitlement reforms” in exchange for a deal to avoid or replace the sequester. But that ain’t happening. So instead, it seems they will make the sequester—even with the hated defense cuts—a sort of propitiatory one-time offering to the Tea Folk and then move right along to 2014.

The shrieking we can expect from various victims of the sequester will, of course, create fresh pressure to accommodate them in any long-term appropriations measure, and that could create another spending fight even if GOPers don’t plan one right now. Indeed, the defense industry could even push Republicans into a post-sequester spending battle to restore some of their lost dollars. But at present, in a year which began with multiple “trigger points” for a Republican-generated meltdown—the debt limit, the sequester, and the continuing resolution—we may be down to just one.

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

  • Josef K on February 20, 2013 11:15 AM:

    Republicans have decided that the sequester scheduled for March 1 — not a government-funding bill due at the end of March — is where they’ll make their stand on spending cuts.

    That's pretty poor ground to stand on. I believe the military would refer to it as "the kill box". I'm frankly at a loss as to what the GOP was even thinking here.

  • Bob on February 20, 2013 11:32 AM:

    Always struck me that if the goal is to reduce the size of government--Republican style--then, you know, you cut things. Given the circumstances they've proposed, we need enormous spending reductions that would provoke howls of outrage. Of course, reducing government was never an actual strategic goal of the Republicans. Winning elections is. And their approach to winning is to find some manufactured crisis that will finally compel the Democrats generally, and President Obama specifically, to propose unacceptable spending reductions. Get this on the record and then hammer the Dems in the next election. Do not, for a minute, think that the Republicans actually give a rip about reducing spending for its own sake.

  • boatboy_srq on February 20, 2013 11:36 AM:

    The shrieking we can expect from various victims of the sequester will, of course, create fresh pressure to accommodate them in any long-term appropriations measure

    NoVA is about to experience the Great Recession that a decade of Shrubbery spared them up to now.

    The Beltway is likely going to let the slowdown in the region go unnoticed, but dollars to doughnuts the congresscritters from the area (House and Senate alike) are going to get bombarded with calls and emails from all the former-Teahadists who are suddenly unemployed (or underemployed) and want to know where their Big Gubmint not-jobs went.

  • c u n d gulag on February 20, 2013 11:42 AM:

    These Republicans and Teabaggers are like the old "Spy vs. Spy" characters in that cartoon in "Mad Magazine."

    They lay down mines and bombs, and then proceed to step on them, themselves.

    Too bad these idiots have thought of taking hostages - the American people, the American economy, and maybe, the world's economy as well.

    But, you know, you can't ask Nihilists and Anarchists to be responsible.
    They're out to create misery and mayhem - NOT to prevent it!

  • Mimikatz on February 20, 2013 12:03 PM:

    I understand how a shutdown works, but what about the sequester? Parts of the gov't are unchanged, other parts can function ok for awhile. All the doom projections assume it lasts forever, which is patently ridiculous. Much of the defense money will get put back in the continuing resolution, along with at least some of the domestic spending. So it may be a month-long hussy fit that hurts some people a lot but most just a little. Is that what is meant by the idea that it is just letting the Teahadists get it out of their system.

  • Mimikatz on February 20, 2013 12:04 PM:

    Loops. Hussy fit.

  • Mimikatz on February 20, 2013 12:06 PM:

    No, it's iPad editing what I type. Hissy fit.

  • mmm on February 20, 2013 12:19 PM:

    @mimikatz... I guessed "hissy fit", but "loops" was funny! Darn technology, but good post.

  • j on February 20, 2013 12:58 PM:

    So now the Daily Beast has the powerpoint presentation given by Boehner telling them what his tactics were regarding his sequester, they had planned it all before Obama got it to sign.
    From now on he must stop calling it Obama's sequester!

  • sparky on February 20, 2013 1:21 PM:

    Much will be made of the 'devastating' defense cuts. Not so. The defense budget was,is, and always will be a deep dish pork pie for the defense industry. The current mega billion version of the defense budget contains billions for M-1 tanks that the DOD didn't ask for. Throw in more bilions for fighter aircraft that we don't need and a second carrier battle group in the Persian gulf, not to mention U S troop stationed all over the globe in areas where they're no longer needed and there's PLENTY of room for large cuts; larger than called for in the sequester. If there's any place in the U S government where cuts really need to be made and our natiuon's future well being won't be jeopardized, it's the defense budget.

  • schtick on February 20, 2013 2:07 PM:

    Whenever they talk of the defense budget, I always think of the Sgt. York and the many others that followed behind it. Congress decides what the defense budget is spent on and they love spending most on things that don't work, like the Sgt. York. All for the almight buck for the rich corporations they claim aren't their friends.