Friday, February 22, 2013

Soccer Dad: "How I learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Sequester"

My pal David Gerstman, AKA Soccer Dad has a new gig blogging at the esteemed site Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion, and his opening salvo there is out today. Here's a slice:

A recent Washington Post editorial, The blame game over sequestration concludes:
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama seems content to warn of dire cutbacks in everything from naval operations to firefighters and to accuse the GOP of risking them to protect the wealthy. The Republicans denounce the sequester as Mr. Obama’s brainchild (though they accepted it as part of a 2011 budget deal) and say they won’t vote for any more tax increases. Both sides are obviously playing a political blame game, which must give way to serious bargaining soon — or the country will be the loser.
Yesterday Washington Post op-ed columnist Ruth Marcus wrote Republicans rewrite history on the sequester:
The tax debate is now closed,” House Speaker John Boehner proclaimed in The Wall Street Journal.
But why? The deal that Boehner asserts closed the tax debate involved less revenue than the $800 billion he was willing to ante up as part of the debt-ceiling negotiations in 2011. It involved less revenue than the $1 trillion he was offering last December in the cliff talks. By way of comparison, the original Simpson-Bowles plan called for more than $2 trillion in new revenue.

The Republican argument — we gave on taxes, now it’s time for spending cuts — also ignores the full history of spending cuts. The debt-ceiling deal — the one that created the supercommittee and sequester — also locked in $917 billion in spending cuts.
There’s one little detail that both accounts leave out. A previous deal was reached in 2011. Earlier this week John Boehner wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
During the summer of 2011, as Washington worked toward a plan to reduce the deficit to allow for an increase in the federal debt limit, President Obama and I very nearly came to a historic agreement. Unfortunately our deal fell apart at the last minute when the president demanded an extra $400 billion in new tax revenue—50% more than we had shaken hands on just days before.
It was a disappointing decision by the president, but with just days until a breach of the debt limit, a solution was still required—and fast. I immediately got together with Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to forge a bipartisan congressional plan. It would be called the Budget Control Act.
The plan called for immediate caps on discretionary spending (to save $917 billion) and the creation of a special House-Senate “super committee” to find an additional $1.2 trillion in savings. The deal also included a simple but powerful mechanism to ensure that the committee met its deficit-reduction target: If it didn’t, the debt limit would not be increased again in a few months.
Boehner added that sequestration was more or less forced onto Congress by the President as part of a mechanism to avoid another debt ceiling fight prior to his re-election campaign. What’s important here is that it was the President who scuttled an earlier deal. Neither the Washington Post nor Ruth Marcus acknowledge this. Boehner isn’t making this up.

Read the rest here.

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