Sequestration is to arrive soon, allegedly to the surprise of the President, the Democrats, and the popular press. According to at least one source in that popular press, if sequestration is allowed to take effect there will be numerous programs and services to the public curtailed. Other sources, such as Chris Cillizza of WaPo, provide a less pessimistic view.
A good President would seize this opportunity to shrink the deficit a little bit by cutting spending in areas that he normally wouldn’t get a chance to touch, and to build some bridges to the other party. A poor one will use it as a campaign talking point.
You have probably heard him say that Republicans don’t care about all the problems the sequester will bring on, they just don’t want taxes raised on their rich friends–even though they already allowed taxes to go up on those friends in January, but never mind about that. The fact is, some of us do think they should let it happen, but not for that reason.
First, I don’t see sequestration as causing a big problem for the country, although depending on how President Obama decides to implement it there can be significant hardships for certain groups of people. But that’s already been happening for four years. This will mostly just be a different group of people, but the relatively small size of the sequester should allow a good administrator to work around it with minimal disruption of operations, or even none, if he wants to.
Second, Sequestration has been called using a meat ax to do what should be done with a scalpel. Here’s what’s wrong with that characterization: Our overspending problem needs an ax taken to it, whether meat or lumberjack’s. Scalpels have been tried in the past, as have butcher and even Bowie knives, but it never works because opposing sides can never agree upon enough of what to pare. In the end, the hearings to decide what to cut cost more than what is saved IF anything ends up being cut at all.
Third, the attractive thing about sequestration is that the decisions have already been made. EVERYTHING will be cut. Well, almost half of everything, anyway. But sacred cows will bleed, even if it will only be flesh wounds, and even though they won’t be deep enough to do any real fiscal good in the end. The good will come from the post-mortem that will follow the fact. The world will not end, and if the Republicans can hold their nerve they will have won a real victory from which to launch the next assault on overspending.
A. B. Stoddard of The Hill suggested Wednesday on Fox Special Report that Republicans should take “a third bite of the apple” with the Democrats and compromise on sequestration, going along with the President and cutting spending down the road. I guess the first bite would have been the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling the last time with a promise of a ‘grand bargain’ that was scuttled by President Obama at the last moment in favor of his sequester plan, and the second was the tax rate increase passed last month in return for spending cuts (which are unspecified and will not happen). Not being a conservative, A. B. believes that this time the football will NOT be pulled away, and spending cuts will pass later.
No. This is a chance to actually do something rather than merely talk about what we intend to do. This situation is analogous to our illegal immigration situation. This is why conservatives demand that the border be secured first before we even talk about next steps. If decisions are made that satisfy liberal demands first, they will never support border security.
Democrats always insist that we do what they want first, then at some point in the future they’ll reward us with what we want. Only it never happens. Although Republicans seem never to learn, if they hold firm here, there may be some hope left. They need to earn respect by standing by their own principles, allowing sequestration, and facing the consequences of “reduced” spending like responsible legislators.
Cross-posted at Terriers of the Right.