Republicans would love to blame Democrats for the sequester. But, of course, they can’t get away with it. Both parties are responsible.
But when it comes to who’ll get blamed if the sequester is used? Republicans. It’s not that Democrats will get off scot-free, but that Republicans will carry the can for it because of the bargain they made with the Dems when the sequester was created.
Ezra Klein explains.
Republicans refused to vote for anything with taxes in it — even though the point of policy was for both sides to fear it. So they made a concession to the Democrats: If the sequester was to be all spending cuts — $984 billion, to be exact, which, when added to lower debt payments, totaled $1.2 trillion — then the spending cuts would leave the main Democratic priorities untouched.
And so the sequester doesn’t touch Medicaid, Social Security or Pell grants. It exempts most programs for low-income Americans, like food stamps. Veteran’s benefits are home free, as are federal retirement benefits. Medicare providers see cuts, but Medicare beneficiaries don’t. And fully half of the cuts come from the military — a huge reduction in defense spending that Democrats couldn’t dream about achieving any other way.
That’s not to say Democrats will love the sequester. It slashes deep into everything from the National Institutes of Health to the Office of Vocational and Adult Education to the Environmental Protection Agency. Worse, the cuts are done with a cleaver rather than a scalpel. Rather than giving agencies control over how to apportion the spending cuts, every affected program simply sees the same reduction. Democrats don’t much like that, but given the sequester’s disproportionate focus on the military, it’s even worse for Republicans. …Klein, WonkBlog, WaPo
Bottom line: “Having lost an election, and having tied themselves to a no-tax pledge, they’re so desperate for leverage, so desperate for a hostage they can actually shoot, that they’re willing to point the gun at their own head and threaten to pull the trigger.”
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