Mar 03 2013
I have been reading the reactions to the sequester-and I am truly coming to the firm conviction that the United States of America has gone insane. Not only did Congress not avoid this abomination-but they didn't even stick around and try to work it out even after the deadline has passed. That astounds me beyond all belief. Even more so is the reaction of some in the proletariat who actually believe that this approach to budgeting is a good thing and are saying we need even more cuts ( without offsetting revenue restoration).
There are a whole host of lies and distortions out there-and that is what bothers me the worst. One cannot even correct the record-because there is no willingness to understand, much less believe the facts.
Lets review the facts shall we?
1) It is not just "a 2 percent cut" in federal spending. Its an almost 9 percent whack in defense and a combined 8% whack in non defense when the various non defense cuts are aggregated. And even more importantly-because the Congress did not act to allow the Administration to execute reprogramming actions, the various departments cannot do what common sense says they should do-make vertical cuts and tough reductions in programs wholesale. ( Like cancel LCS for example and move the money to other accounts). Yet there are people-I've argued with them who just go on saying that we can do this and no one will get hurt. Well, they are wrong-and deserve to be beaten for their inability to understand. Yes I said that-its how I feel.
2) The GOP insistence that there can be no restored revenue-even when it makes sense and will better spread the burden around-is total lunacy.
Ezra Klein mans up and admits he was wrong. He had written a piece suggesting that if only Republicans knew how much Obama has been willing to offer, they might be willing to make a deal. Jonathan Chait set him straight, informing him that no matter what Obama put on the table, Republicans would find a way to say that it’s not enough. And sure enough, a Twitter exchange lets Klein watch that process in real time, as a top Republican consultant, confronted with evidence that Obama has already conceded what he said was all that was needed, keeps adding more demands.
So Klein admits that Republicans just don’t want to make a deal. Their objections to the deals on the table aren’t sincere; if convinced that Obama has met their demands, they just make more demands.
I think it’s important here to understand the broader implications.
The whole push for a Grand Bargain has been based on the notion that we can reach a fiscal deal that takes the whole fight over the budget off the table. What Klein has belatedly learned is how unlikely such a Bargain really is; but the same logic tells us that any Grand Bargain that might somehow be struck, via Obama’s mystical ability to mind-meld Star Trek and Star Wars or something, wouldn’t last. In a year — or more likely in a minute or two — Republicans would be back, demanding more tax cuts and more cuts in social programs. They just won’t take yes for an answer.
Meanwhile, it’s not just Republicans who refuse to accept it when Obama gives them what they want; the same applies, with even less justification, to centrist pundits. As people like Greg Sargent point out time and again, the centrist ideal — deficit reduction via a mix of revenue increases and benefits cuts — is what Obama is already offering; in fact, his proposals have been to the right of Bowles-Simpson. Yet the centrist pundits keep demanding that Obama offer what he has already offered, and condemn both sides equally (or even place most of the blame on Obama) for the failure to reach a deal. Again, informing them of their error wouldn’t help; their whole shtick is about blaming both sides, and they will always invent some reason why Obama just isn’t doing it right.
This is the whole false equivalency thing again. "Both sides do it". No, in this case only one side has-and since they don't experience any consequences for it-they do it again and again. The fiscal scolds and whack jobs in the GOP should have their balls in a vice right now-being squeezed until they pop. But no one is inflicting the pain on them to get them to do what is right. America only has two branches of government right now. Congress for all intents and purposes has ceased to exist. The founding fathers never intended for that to happen.
Basically its a continuation of the total freak out 30% of America had when Obama won in 2008 and when he won again in 2012. Unlike others its not about race, but it is about his proposing ideas that that show compassion for the non-wealthy. The 30% on the teabag side of the aisle don't really believe in the two party system anymore. They only know that if they can't be in charge than they are going to whine and cry like the selfish spoiled children they are.
Fact 3-Congress bears the bulk of the blame. Between the filibusters on the Senate side and the GOP in the house proposing nothing of substance-they created this situation and what's worse, they like it.
Meanwhile, budget cuts or no budget cuts, the military budget is being hollowed out from within by rising military health costs. Over the past decade, the military’s health-care costs have tripled, surging from $19-billion in 2001 to $53-billion in 2011. Health costs are projected to rise to $63.9-billion by 2015. An additional 6% cut atop those previous problems begins to look like a serious challenge to readiness and effectiveness.
Yet this serious challenge is not being taken seriously by the very people you’d most expect to be concerned. According to a Gallup poll released last week, 80% of self-identified Republicans feel it is very important for the U.S. to have the world’s strongest military. Only 48% of self-identified Democrats think so, as opposed to 51% of Democrats who say military predominance is “not that important.”
In Washington, however, it is the Republicans who are behaving cavalierly about the defense budget…….
The trouble is that the new Tea Party congressional GOP no longer minds defense cuts as much as it used to — or as much as the rank-and-file Republicans surveyed by Gallup. Congressional Republicans increasingly welcome the sequester as a good thing, or anyway, an acceptable thing.
According to Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee: “[This] shows we’re finally willing to stand and fight for conservative principles and force Washington to start living within its means. And that will be a big victory.”
It should be stressed: The Republican Study Committee is an important group within the Republican caucus. These are not Ron Paul style isolationists, but mainstream conservatives. Unfortunately, mainstream conservatives are increasingly willing to risk national security to score points in the Washington partisan competition.
Americans sense the decline in their country’s strength. Gallup finds that only 50% now express confidence that the U.S. military ranks number one, the lowest number since the end of the Cold War. Such pessimism is exaggerated of course. But it’s not completely ill-founded. Not since the 1970s has Congress taken the kind of risks with national security that it seems ready to incur today.
I am becoming more and more pessimistic-and less able to control my anger. Ronald Reagan would weep at what his party has become, and Tip O'Neill would weep at the state of Congress today. No matter how polarized the discussions were in the 80's they were still able to negotiate compromises. But now-then, the debate was about the policies. Now, its about Obama. The useless people in the crazed 30% of America who make up the teabagger village cannot come to grips that there is a better and different solution than to give in to their inherently selfish instincts. And I am at a loss as to how to make them understand it short of depriving them of oxygen and letting them suffocate.
The truth is, most of what "conservatives" believe to be true is false. And there is no one in America who can convince them other wise. Such is the result of 10+ years of an alternative world-led by Fox News-that makes up its own facts, distorts the truth and allows shills to gain positions of prominence. The US has become what it says it despises-a 2nd rate power. It has no one to blame but itself. you can't cut, cut, cut-and not pay the bill. We can have less government spending-but do not kid yourself, it comes at the cost of global retrenchment. By deciding not to decide-Congress has decided. Let the withdrawals begin. But please don't complain when the results are not what you wish.