Sequestration’s Parents

Since it seems to be of transcendent importance to Republicans right now to get the entire political world to “admit” sequestration was an idea that began in the White House, allow me to quote Mike Tomasky, who has what ought to be the final word on the subject:

So fine, the White House proposed it. It did so only after months of Republicans publicly demanding huge spending cuts and refusing to consider any revenues and acting as if they were prepared to send the nation into default over spending. In other words, this was the administration’s idea in much the way that it’s a parent’s “idea” to pay ransom to a person who has taken his child hostage. There was a gun to the White House’s head, which was the possibility of the country going into default.

And then, when it was all put into legislation, it was the Republicans who passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the House, with 218 of them voting yes. So even if administration officials proposed it, it would have remained just a proposal if those 218 Republicans hadn’t supported it (no House Democrats backed it). Most Republicans agreed at the time that the sequestration trigger was a good thing—that it would force everyone to get together and agree to a path forward and a long-term budget deal.

Perhaps Republicans can somehow convince people that the spending cuts that are about to hit are dramatically different from the spending cuts the GOP has long championed, and is about to champion again in the next version of the Ryan Budget. To some extent, that is true, with the important condition that the domestic entitlement programs placed beyond the reach of the sequester at the demand of the White House are even more popular than the discretionary programs about to be pounded. Any way you look at it, Republicans are not going to get away with making it look like they are weeping bitter tears of sympathy once the hammer comes down.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.