Political Animal


February 28, 2013 10:25 AM So Much For Sequester Flexibility

By Ed Kilgore

The closest thing to the glimmer of a good idea Senate Republicans have had in many years was a budding effort to give executive branch administrators some flexibility in how the appropriations sequester would be administered. It wasn’t a very sincere effort, since those talking about it knew it was going to be rejected by the White House, Senate Democrats, and their own House colleagues—i.e., by everyone needed to make it happen. But still, it at least got the idea of mitigating the exceptional stupidity of the sequester out there in the public eye.

Now that the sequester’s about to actually happen, though, Senate Republicans in the end couldn’t support their own half-decent idea, per this report from Bloomberg’s Kathleen Hunter:

Senate Republicans offered a bill that would keep the spending cuts, while allowing Obama to submit his own plan by March 15 for allocating them. The measure would let Congress vote within a week to reject the president’s plan and keep the original, across-the-board cuts in place. Some Senate Republicans have said such a plan would cede too much power to Obama. The measure is S.16.

So instead of “flexibility,” the administration would be given the option of dropping its standing offer of a revenues-plus-cuts sequester replacement and presenting an all-cuts version, which Congress could then reject. That is so, so not happening, for a lot of obvious reasons. And it means the sequester will kick in with all the original stupidity it was provided to make it all but impossible to occur. Nice.

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.


  • c u n d gulag on February 28, 2013 10:34 AM:

    So, in other words, the same crew that drove the economy into a deep ditch, is now are determined to drive the economy off a steep cliff!

    Obama's on to you, Republicans.
    He tried to work with you, but you wouldn't let him.

    He's not about to suggest some cuts on his own, that you can go and scream about how that KenyanSocialistFascistCommunistHeathenMuslimAtheist Usurper is targeting Red states and districts like the Dictator he clearly is.

    Remember, YOU'RE the "STUPID PARTY," not President Obama and the Democrats.
    Feckin' idjist, traitors, and Nihilists!

    Party Over Country!
    PARTY UBER ALLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Josef K on February 28, 2013 10:51 AM:

    Now that the sequester’s about to actually happen, though, Senate Republicans in the end couldn’t support their own half-decent idea

    It was actually a terrible idea, which would set an equally terrible precedent for future Presidents.

    It is the ultimate responsibility of Congress to create and set the federal budget, as spelled out in the godsbedamned Constitution. For them to devolve any of that responsibility to the Executive Branch risks too much for the future.

    Put it this way: would it necessarily be a "good idea" for someone like George W Bush to have the authority McConnell and company were suggesting?

  • bdop4 on February 28, 2013 10:53 AM:

    Sequester flexibility: "I can't do my job, so I'm going to have you do it and then blame you for it."

    Not happening.

    Either come to the table with a real compromise or don't bother.

  • david1234 on February 28, 2013 11:04 AM:

    People in Washington wonder why the American people do not like them. What do you expect when they are forced to needlessly suffer? We do not a less painful sequester. We need no sequester. Neither side gives up anything by repeal.

  • mb on February 28, 2013 1:25 PM:


    This is the umpteenth time you've expressed your, I assume, personal wish that the Pres. had the "flexibility" to pick and choose where to implement the sequester. I understand the wonkish need to do good governance, but beyond that, why on earth would you want the Obama Admin on the hook for deciding where to cut and whose ox to gore? That is a no-win scenario for the admin. No-win, no how. They won't get points for good governance, unfortunately.

  • jhm on February 28, 2013 2:02 PM:

    [OT-ish] I don't have anything to add to the substance of this post, but I absolutely love it that the cited news item included the reference to S.16.

    It should be mandatory to teach those who talk about specific amendments, roll call votes, bills, et cetera, to include a reference that can more or less easily let someone Thomas the specifics for themselves. It's a real shame that this happens so infrequently.