Wednesday, January 30, 2013


The Washington Post tells us something that's been clear for a couple of weeks:
Less than a month after averting one fiscal crisis, Washington began bracing Tuesday for another, as lawmakers in both parties predicted that deep, across-the-board spending cuts would probably hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies on March 1.

... party leaders say they see no clear path to compromise, particularly given a growing sentiment among Republicans to pocket the cuts and move on to larger battles over health and retirement spending.

... Cuts to the military and the defense industry remain politically problematic. But Tuesday, even some of the Pentagon's most fervent champions seemed resigned to the likelihood that the cuts would be permitted to kick in....
We've assumed all this time that Republicans would never, ever let the sequester cuts happen, because nothing on earth is more important to Republicans than a "strong defense," defined as massive amounts of Pentagon spending. We've thought that Republicans sincerely believe the country is in peril unless Pentagon spending is very, very high, and that their defense of the Pentagon budget is a sincere expression of what they think is best for the country.

We were chumps to believe that.

Posturing as champions of a strong defense is important to Republicans. But Republicans don't really give a crap about Pentagon cuts -- as long as they can blame Democrats for them.

Maybe all along they've known that they were using communism and terrorism and all the other threats from overseas as a ruse to jack up spending far beyond what we really need. Or maybe they've fallen for their own rhetorical nonsense -- specifically, the notion that the country is in peril whenever a Democrat is president by definition, no matter how much defense spending there is and how many bombs the president is dropping. So it's just categorically impossible for the country to be truly safe no matter how big the Pentagon budget gets, until the White House is restored to its rightful owner, the Republican Party.

Whatever the reason, we thought Pentagon cuts would be an effective gun to the head of Republicans because Republicans really care. They don't.

They just care about being seen as champions of a strong defense. They're happy to pocket the domestic cuts and have the opportunity to demagogue the Pentagon cuts. It turns out that they'd rather demagogue the Pentagon cuts than prevent them, if they also get cuts to programs that help poor and middle-class people. Now we know.


Victor said...

Yeah, again, you're right, Steve.

If Republicans are the party of national defense, then ask them to explain the Bush II Presidency, and their support for it?

NOW, I mean, after the smoke has cleared, the bodies are buried, no WMD's were found, and we're withdrawing from Bush's Follies. And now that people aren't being 'threat-leveled' every single morning, right before the weather report.

The entire Republican Party is now all about finding some way to blame the Democrats for something. ANY thing.
From immigration, to the economy, to military budget cuts, to SS and Medicare "Earned Benefits" cuts - that they themselves are waiting for the Democrats to propose. Hopefully, the Democrats will start cutting the military, and let the Republicans finally, FINALLY, have to blurt out what the want regarding SS and Medicare.

And you know, every evening, right before they go to bed, that they're pray to Jesus that we have a terrible and costly terrorist attack here, or another economic collapse, or a couple of dozen Benghazi's a week.
"Something, Jusus. Give us something. ANY thing, to make Obama and the Democrats look bad, and discredit them!"

Party over people.

aimai said...

Sure, I agree with this. But in a sense it doesn't matter because their voters aren't listening and what they do or do not do is not permanent here and they know it--and the Obama administration knows it too. None of these bills and laws and new regulations tie the hands of the next congress, or the next one after that. The Republicans can let the sequester cut the hell out of defense and then go right back to voting for enormous payouts to their favored military industrial clients in the very next session of congress.

In fact letting the sequester go through while still trumpeting 1) that it indicates a lack of military love on Obama's part and 2) that it proves they are sincere about the debt/deficit are excellent rhetorical strategies.

Cutting Defense to the bone and then selling their services to the highest defense contractor bidding makes a huge amount of sense for individual House movers and shakers--it only increases their value to lobbyists.

So I would have expected to see something like this happen although I would equally have imagined that under pressure from their paymasters they would have tried to prevent it. Its a complicated system in which bad decisions for the country can always pay off for individual representatives in congress, if they know how to game the system.

What they say in public bears only the most limited relationship to what their actual intentions and beliefs are--and their failures as negotiators can always be spun to their public advantage with a tiny bit of thought.

Victor said...

Thanks aimai - I never looked at it like that.