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Mitch McConnell: No, there will be no tax hikes to replace the sequester.

This is a pretty clear statement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that he would not accept a plan to avert the sequester by raising taxes, just days before Democrats are expected to propose exactly that.

“My constituents in Kentucky will not accept a tax hike in the place of spending cuts that were already agreed to by both parties,” McConnell said. “We agreed to reduce this amount of spending in October of 2011, without raising taxes. We’ve already made this agreement.

“The question is, what are we going to do about it?”

…And while I know that it’s fashionable, and even often easily justifiable, to go off on Mitch McConnell for being only intermittently resolute on these things, this is looking to be one of those times when he is being resolute. The bottom line is that the sequester will go off unless the Republican Congressional caucuses decide otherwise; and it seems that the Republican Congressional caucuses have decided that while the impact will be unpleasant, it’ll be less unpleasant in the long run than letting the Democrats continue to freebase the Treasury. Ben Domenech argues that this is due to a power shift between the factions that make up the Republican party, with the defense hawks losing out; speaking as a defense hawk I’d have to say that this is… more or less true; but it’s more like we saw the writing on the wall ahead of time and decided not to fight in a burning house.

Ben and I do agree on one thing, though: Barack Obama and Senate Democrats* weren’t really prepared for this showdown. If they were, they’d be probably trying something a bit smarter than relying on the President calling for hate-the-rich tax hikes at tomorrow’s State of the Union address. Which, as the link shows, is something that even the Washington Post is just the tiniest bit skeptical about whether that will work.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: One more point: if the Obama administration does make a deal on the sequester it will probably not include Harry Reid this time, either. But if it does not make a deal, expect the whispers to start to come from the executive branch staff that it’s all the Senate Majority Leader’s fault – oh, and they’ll blame the GOP, too. But some of it will slop over onto Reid.

*Nobody cares what House Democrats are doing right now, of course.

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