Cuts R Us

Here’s a fine nugget from Jonathan Bernstein at the WaPo Plum Line about Republican efforts to blame Obama for the sequester if it happens:

Most of the time, on most issues, the best bet is that most of the public will tune it out; the rest will react according to their partisan beliefs. That’s even true to a remarkable extent about tax increases and cuts; very large groups are capable of never knowing a change has happened, and partisans are even more capable of believing that changes aligned with their prior assumptions about the incumbent president. Sudden, dramatic cuts in government spending, however, might just be enough to get a lot of voters’ attention. And they’re even more likely to get the national press to pay attention, and to make it seem as if voters are fed up.

And it’s hard to see how the Republicans’ position here — the pro-cuts position — plays well if that happens.

Republicans have been claiming with every more feverish intensity for decades now that federal spending is the source of all evil. All they have to offer as a substitute for the sequester is an equally large batch of spending cuts, and every budget they pass includes a vastly larger collection of spending cuts. Getting rid of the Cuts R Us label at this point just ain’t happening. Yeah, occasionally Republicans can convey the sense they are willing to hammer some beneficiaries of government spending (e.g., those people) to protect others (virtuous white seniors). But with a plenary cut like the sequester, such fine slicing and dicing won’t work.

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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.