Monday, February 25, 2013

The Truth About The Sequester Stew

On a suggestion from Daily Beast contributor (and assistant to David Frum) Justin Green, a discussion one of our staff members got into over the weekend regarding sequestration was delayed for brunch, and a relaxing Sunday.

That meal was yesterday, however, and this discussion is long overdue.

The sequester that is scheduled to go into effect at the end of this week is not inevitable, contrary to the assertations of some pundits. Unlike many others, journalist & commentator Chris Hayes stated once again over the weekend, the simple truth - that Congress can stop these disastrous sequester cuts with a simple one sentence bill, if they desire.

That no one in Congress has come across that simple solution, or cooked up another solution to this sequester crisis is a very real problem - one made of denial and pure cowardice, on only one side of the great American political divide.

What's worse is that many of those unwilling to face the monster of sequestration - or their own tea party base - are also lying about what the effects of the across the board cuts will be, or how many Americans really have prioritized cutting the budget deeply right now, above all else.

The most recent Pew poll makes the truth very obvious: a majority of Americans from all political backgrounds are not in favor of cuts to any federal program or service. Even so, to reach both our short and long term economic goals,  Congressional Democrats and President Obama have made the hard choices, outlining compromise budget and spending plans that not only anger some on the liberal left, but also raise taxes and close loopholes.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate have yet to release similar plans that dictate specifically which cuts Republicans would be willing to make, and what loopholes they'd be willing to close in a compromise deal. Therein lies the deeper problem.

This sequester fight has never been an issue of solving the problem of fiscal profligacy at the federal level. John Avlon's discovery of Speaker John Boehner's plan to use sequestration to strangle the federal budget proves that.

Instead, Congressional Republicans have lied, stalled, and - assisted by hacks like David Brooks - pointed the blame finger at Democrats, while never being honest with their base voters that both cuts and revenue increases will be required to go into the federal budget stew if we are to be fiscally responsible, as a nation.

As you can see, the truth about why the sequester is happening is very simple, actually.

One side of our polity is led by craven, spineless twits who refuse to do the hard things, lie about their dedication to fiscal responsibility, and misinform about what the outcome of their irresponsible actions will be on the economy.

One side is being led by those who are willing to make some very hard and ugly choices on the budget - as President Obama and Congressional Democrats are willing to do.

The long overdue discussion isn't over who the American people truly side with. As Ezra Klein noted this weekend, the American people made that choice in the 2012 election - an election overwhelmingly won by President Obama and the Democrats.

So why are Americans still allowing their economy - and their politics - to be grabbed by the monster of sequestration and held hostage, when even a simple one sentance bill could put this monster back in its proper container?

That's the discussion that's been long overdue.