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Sequestration: Lots of Blame but Little Work

Posted on the 20 February 2013 by Kzawadzki @kzawadzki

Sequestration: Lots of blame but little work

Like a junkie begging for just one more fix before they get straight, these politicos keep begging for one more election before they face facts. Math isn’t partisan. Our current levels of debt are unsustainable. They can’t be solved by simply cutting or taxing our way out of the hole.

The hypocrisy runs deep. While a bipartisan plan like Bowles-Simpson gets paid plenty of lip service, when it came to a vote in the House, it went down to defeat, 382-38, with just 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans voting for it. President Obama also deserves blame for not backing Bowles-Simpson when it was first proposed or aggressively pushing a lame duck grand bargain. And while the GOP has often responded to his outreach with the back of its hand, the president must rise above and lead. Obama’s call to pass a short-term $110 billion stopgap measure is better than the alternative meat-cleaver cuts, provided that it lays the groundwork for a real grand bargain.

The sequester was designed to be so stupid and painful that it would compel the supercommittee—or a lame-duck Congress—to come up with a reasonable alternative. But it was apparently not painful enough to compel the two parties to work together, despite the shared goal of some $4 trillion in debt reduction. And now, faced with the pain that both parties voted for but nobody wants, they’re busy pointing fingers and trying to assign political blame.

Congress should come back from vacation and get back to work. There is no more time to waste. Washington is now the greatest impediment to America’s hard-won economic recovery—a situation that’s equally pathetic and predictable.

via The PowerPoint That Proves It’s Not Obama’s Sequester After All – The Daily Beast.

In other words, while President Obama has to pull his weight on this as well (and being late on proposing his budget is not encouraging, to say the least), it’s ludicrous, hypocritical and not constructive at all for the House Republicans with John Boehner at the helm to just cast the blame for the sequester on Obama and call it a day. (Especially when you could make a case the other way around, too: that the blame rests on the House GOP’s shoulders.)

But I mean, pointing fingers at each other? Really? Shouldn’t we be figuring out solutions to this mess rather than playing the blame-game?

The blame-game is made even more ridiculous given that while House Republicans continue to abhor any new revenue, they have not specified which programs they’d cut. Spending cuts have been a talking point since even before the election cycle, but to this day, we don’t know all the details of what would be on the chopping block. Oh, except for Obamacare, which Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested as a sacrificial lamb (because if 30+ attempts at repeal don’t work, the next best thing is to artificially tie it to the debate on sequestration).

Regardless, calling it an “Obamaquester” is juvenile and does nothing but shift blame. It doesn’t offer any solutions or alternatives.

The devil is always in the details, and perhaps that’s why Boehner isn’t offering them up (thing is, everyone likes spending cuts on paper, but when you get to specifics, not only do we actually like almost everything, but there isn’t much money to cut, anyway). So the only thing left to do is just say “it’s all Obama’s fault” – but that’s a non-argument that after four years is starting to wear thin.

As for the president, maybe skip one of those golf games and get back to work, too. Shoot the shit with the oil magnates after this latest crisis has passed, mmkay? 

There’s plenty of blame to go around, and if sequestration is like shooting yourself in the foot, both sides helped pull that trigger. But I think that’s neither here nor there. Figuring out who’s to blame for past misdeeds is a time-waster when there’s a big deadline fast approaching. The sooner both sides admit to that, the sooner they (maybe) can work together to address the wounds.

But it’s Feb. 20. The sequester cuts go into effect on March 1. That means we’re just over a week away from zero-hour. It’s about that time now, guys!

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