This is getting old, but Republicans are busy denying their relationship with sequestration, and so once again, we must delve into history for a reality check. While both sides signed the Budget Control Act, in which the sequester was housed, only one side has been pushing sequester as the Holy Grail of their ideology. Sequester, as a concept, is a Republican dream.
Yes, yet another Republican pushed the idea of the sequester and it’s on the record. Jack Kingston (R-GA) proposed sequestration in December of 2010. In his plan, meant to “destroy the infrastructure of spending”, Kingston wrote, “If Appropriators exceed the spending targets set early in the fiscal year under the Budget Act, automatic ‘sequesters,’ or across the board program cuts, would be imposed.”
The sequester is a largely Republican idea and has certainly been championed repeatedly by Republicans. The concept has its merits — that is, if the people elected are actually willing to compromise. But when a government is being strangled from within by rigid demagogues who refuse to bend, the Republican idea of sequester is sure doom. And that’s why Republicans are running away from their love affair with the sequester and pretending they never met her.
But history tells another story. There was Boehner’s (R-OH) proposal of the sequester, there was Paul Ryan (R-WI) hawking sequester as the holy grail of budgetary discipline, and there was Jack Kingston (R-GA) wildly touting sequester to the Wall Street Journal on November 29, 2010 (my bold):
… this week Mr. Kingston (R-GA) will present to Mr. Boehner’s Steering Committee a blueprint for action that shows he’s given considerable thought to changing the spending culture in Congress. (We’re posting his 18-page power point at OpinionJournal.com.) As a spending cut down payment, he has endorsed about $110 billion in rescissions from the fiscal 2011 budget, including billions in agriculture cuts, which is admirable given that Georgia is a farm state. (Better not tell subsidy potentate and Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.)
At the heart of his reform plan is restoring the process of automatic spending cuts that prevailed in the late 1980s under the name Gramm-Rudman. In the 1980s deficits were the budget cut trigger, but Mr. Kingston would apply it to spending levels. If Appropriators exceed the spending targets set early in the fiscal year under the Budget Act, automatic “sequesters,” or across the board program cuts, would be imposed. When this process was in place in the 1980s, the deficit as a share of GDP fell to below 3% from 6%. Mr. Kingston says his goal is to reduce spending over time to 18% of GDP, down from 24% to 25% today.
Mr. Kingston says one of his main goals is to “destroy the infrastructure of spending.”
In theory, sequestration seems like a good idea, especially as proposed by Kingston who also sought to keep state representatives off of committees making cuts to their pork laden areas. Very clever.
In reality, the first problem is that no one wants to do that for obvious reasons and the second problem is that sequestration relies upon the idea that the threat of sequesters will force representatives to the table. As we can see from House Republicans (specifically the Tea Party caucus), they feel no inclination whatsoever to come to the table. Yet, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) promised in his power point presentation that the “sequestration process is designed to guarantee that Congress acts on the Joint Committee’s legislation”; aka, that they avoid the trigger of sequestration by coming up with a replacement bill. Boehner can’t get his tea caucus to make any concessions, and that’s why Boehner is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to blame Obama for the sequester.
Republicans do not want the defense cuts and Democrats worry that the cuts will threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs (in addition to harmful cuts to the vulnerable and our armed services), especially in a recession. The CBO doesn’t want the sequester because they fear it may not only hinder our recovery but also make thing worse.
And yet, Republicans are unwilling to negotiate. They want their spending cuts with no revenue. They say it’s their turn, but months ago they admitted that they got over 2 trillion in spending cuts from Obama. Then Obama got some revenue. Now it’s time for both. It is irrelevant if Obama proposed the sequester in order to appease Republicans, who were holding the economy hostage at that time (had they not done that, we would not be here arguing over whose idea this was), or if Republicans proposed it. What matters is that it is a Republican idea, it’s here, and now no one thinks it’s a good idea and yet Republicans refuse, once again, to compromise.
Compromise is not a part of the modern day Republican Party, and so we’re headed to the disaster that the sequester holds for us. No matter what Republicans say, one thing is a fact: The people championing sequestration have been Republicans. That is, until they got it.
This would lead logical people to question if all of their ideas are only good on paper, and also to wonder if their party can’t handle getting what it says it stands for, what now. Meanwhile, Rome will burn.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.