Learning To Embrace the Stupidity

So last time we checked on congressional plans for dealing with the appropriations sequester, there was (in my mind at least) a tiny glimmer of light in that Senate Republicans were interested in giving the administration the flexibility to implement the cuts in a less stupid manner than making them across-the-board for all programs not made exempt in the original legislation. But we were told that Senate Democrats would no go along because they didn’t want to make the administration responsible for the winners and losers in such decisions, and that House Republicans hated the idea, too, because they feared Alinskyite in the White House would find ways to screw them over.

But I must report today that the situation has changed: yes, Senate Republicans are backing away from any “flexibility” proposal, too, because they just can’t give power away, even the power to be less stupid and destructive.

Politico‘s got a story today from David Rogers and Manu Raju quoted GOP senator after senator objecting to this “abdication:”

Big Republican names in the Senate warned Monday against giving away congressional power in order to escape responsibility for the adverse impact of automatic spending cuts expected to go into effect Friday.

Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona both expressed strong concerns in anticipation of a party discussion Tuesday on draft legislation to give President Barack Obama greater flexibility to deal with the crisis. By doing so, the leadership hopes to shift the onus onto Obama to administer the cuts, but letting go of power to give the president that discretion is hard to do.

“I spent long hours writing the defense [authorization] bill,” McCain told POLITICO, “I’m not about to give up my constitutional obligations to the President of the United States.”

“I think the appropriations process belongs in the legislative branch,” Rubio said in a separate interview. “And to give the administration carte blanche to decide what they’re going to fund and not fund, as you’re already seeing in some of the statements they’re putting out, they’re trying to in some ways to maximize the destruction that this creates for political purposes.”

Assuming this is way the wind is blowing among Senate Republicans, it does make the partisan differences on the sequester less complicated: Democrats don’t want the sequester, and have proposed a “balanced” package of spending cuts and revenue loophole-closing measures to replace it. Republicans more or less welcome the sequester in all its hideous glory (while graciously crediting the president with coming up with the idea), and will oppose replacing it with anything other than a domestic-spending-cuts-only substitute. It’s not too hard to see which party is gradually coming to embrace the stupidity.

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.