Greg Sargent (with the help of Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) has an idea for how Republicans can win the Sequester fight. He notes that winning this fight is all about appearances. Thus far, the Democrats have agreed to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and the Republicans have agreed to $700 billion in new tax revenue. If the Republicans just accept a one-to-one spend and revenue package to cancel the Sequester, they will have succeeded in getting 1.6 times as much in spending cuts as revenue increases. They should take it and declare victory.
But they won’t. Sargent writes that the Republicans have already defined victory as a total rout. And this is now what the Republican base expects. A moment’s thought will show that this is ridiculous. The Republicans are saying, “Let’s replace all these military spending cuts with Medicare cuts!” But somehow, they’ve convinced themselves that the previous spending cuts don’t count because “that was then.” And that the Fiscal Cliff tax increases should count because “that was now.” The previous spending cuts don’t matter in this debate but the previous revenue increases do matter. What it seems to all come down to is that the Republicans feel that they were humiliated in the Fiscal Cliff deal and the Sequester is where they get their revenge. It’s just silly.
Once again we come back to this tactical philosophy that if they can’t get everything they want (or at least 98%), they are going to take their toys and go home. I use a lot of hyperbole in my writing. But it really does seem that the Republicans behave on the level of five-year-olds. This goes back a lot further than Mitch McConnell’s statement that their number one goal was to make Obama a one term president, but that statement is telling. What he’s saying is that nothing else is as important, “If we Republicans don’t hold the White House what’s the point of being in Washington at all?”
I still think it is possible that somehow we will come up with a replacement for the Sequester. The Republicans have a habit of thinking (or pretending) that they have leverage that they don’t. And then they figure it out at the last minute. “It’s called wisdom; it comes to some suddenly.” But maybe it is just that the 100 or so totally crazy House Republicans have to be pacified until the end. I don’t really know. What is clear, however, is that Republicans continue to not only embarrass themselves, but our entire democracy.