Political Animal


February 19, 2013 5:23 PM Sequestration’s Parents

By Ed Kilgore

Since it seems to be of transcendent importance to Republicans right now to get the entire political world to “admit” sequestration was an idea that began in the White House, allow me to quote Mike Tomasky, who has what ought to be the final word on the subject:

So fine, the White House proposed it. It did so only after months of Republicans publicly demanding huge spending cuts and refusing to consider any revenues and acting as if they were prepared to send the nation into default over spending. In other words, this was the administration’s idea in much the way that it’s a parent’s “idea” to pay ransom to a person who has taken his child hostage. There was a gun to the White House’s head, which was the possibility of the country going into default.
And then, when it was all put into legislation, it was the Republicans who passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the House, with 218 of them voting yes. So even if administration officials proposed it, it would have remained just a proposal if those 218 Republicans hadn’t supported it (no House Democrats backed it). Most Republicans agreed at the time that the sequestration trigger was a good thing—that it would force everyone to get together and agree to a path forward and a long-term budget deal.

Perhaps Republicans can somehow convince people that the spending cuts that are about to hit are dramatically different from the spending cuts the GOP has long championed, and is about to champion again in the next version of the Ryan Budget. To some extent, that is true, with the important condition that the domestic entitlement programs placed beyond the reach of the sequester at the demand of the White House are even more popular than the discretionary programs about to be pounded. Any way you look at it, Republicans are not going to get away with making it look like they are weeping bitter tears of sympathy once the hammer comes down.

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.


  • Peter C on February 19, 2013 5:55 PM:

    The Republicans firmly believe that if they say something enough times, it becomes true. And, since they own the media, they get to say it a lot. They used to have better luck at convincing the public, but we’re slowly catching on.

  • Bokonon on February 19, 2013 6:02 PM:

    The fact that the GOP is trying so hard to muddy the waters and shift the blame shows one thing - they are scared, and they see a threat coming.

    The game all the way along has been to play the Democrats for chumps, and make sure that the Democrats have their fingerprints all over the very same defense and benefit cuts that the GOP has been trying to force for the last several years. And clearly, now that painful automatic cuts are coming, the GOP doesn't think there are enough fingerprints for them to avoid the blame.

  • c u n d gulag on February 19, 2013 6:22 PM:

    The Republicans are so hell-bent on 'killing' Obama and the Democrats, that they're will to do a murder-suicide to make it happen.

    Every one of them, has proven to be a treasonous traiter, who cares more about him/her/self and their political future, and their parties, than the country they swore on their beloved Bibles to serve.

    Party over country!

  • Anonymous on February 19, 2013 7:31 PM:

    Like Howard Dean, I don't think sequestration is all that bad. It cuts the War Department as much as everyone else, and that is otherwise impossible. And no matter how many times the Republicans call it the Obama Sequestration, it will like the government shutdown back in the day, be blamed on the Republicans by popular opinion. Back then Gingrich and his friends didn't think that's what people would think, but they did. Everyone knows that cutting government spending in general at this point is what the right wing wants to do anyway. Any negative effects will be blamed on them.

  • Lori on February 20, 2013 8:24 PM:

    Much as I'd like to agree with this article, because I'm a liberal and I would LOVE for republicans to take full blame for this ... it's wrong. This bill was sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, a democrat from Iowa. This bill needed only a simple majority, and would NOT have gotten it if there weren't democrats who voted in favor of it ... but dems DID vote for it. In fact, 95 House Democrats voted in favor, and 95 House Democrats voted against. For republicans, 174 voted in favor, 66 voted against. Three people declined to vote ... all three were democrats. You can see the bill, and those who voted in favor, or against at this link: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll690.xml