The Weeper of The House takes ownership of the sequester (Part 2)

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, took to the pages of Rupert Murdoch's The Wall Street Journal today seeking to reinforce the GOP talking point for low information voters that "the sequester is all President Obama's fault," and if he would just capitulate to my extortionary demands and give me everything I want and grovel before me to ask "please sir, may I have another," we could avoid the sequester going into effect next Friday.

Boehner is either a contemptuous pompous asshole, or is delusional. We have already established that he is the "Worst. Speaker. Ever."

As to Boehner's repeated use of the GOP talking point that "the sequester is all President Obama's fault," John Avalon today puts the truth to the lie at The Daily Beast, The PowerPoint That Proves It’s Not Obama’s Sequester After All:

With deep sequestration cuts just days away, Congress is on vacation. [That's how concerned Boehner really is.] But they’ve still got plenty of time to play the blame game.

The latest semantic spin is to call the looming $1.2 trillion in cuts, which could throw the whole economy back into recession, “Obama’s Sequester.” House Speaker John Boehner indulged this approach half a dozen times in a floor speech before he went on break, establishing its place in the talking-points firmament.

There are a couple problems with this tactic, as my colleague Michael Tomasky pointed out Tuesday. Congress passed sequestration before the president signed it, and the whole self-defeating exercise was carried out in response to Tea Party Republicans’ insistence that we play chicken with the debt ceiling, which ultimately cost America its AAA credit rating.

But here’s the thing. I happened to come across an old email that throws cold water on House Republicans’ attempts to call this “Obama’s Sequester.”

It’s a PowerPoint presentation that Boehner’s office developed with the Republican Policy Committee and sent out to the Capitol Hill GOP on July 31, 2011. Intended to explain the outline of the proposed debt deal, the presentation is titled: “Two Step Approach to Hold President Obama Accountable.”

It’s essentially an internal sales document from the old dealmaker Boehner to his unruly and often unreasonable Tea Party cohort. But it’s clear as day in the presentation that “sequestration” was considered a cudgel to guarantee a reduction in federal spending—the conservatives’ necessary condition for not having America default on its obligations.

The presentation lays out the deal in clear terms, describing the spending backstop as “automatic across-the-board cuts (‘sequestration’). Same mechanism used in 1997 Balanced Budget Agreement.”

The Joint Committee, ultimately misled by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) into enacting the sequester, is explained in detail under a page titled “Entitlement Reforms and Savings”:

130215-Avlon-Boehner-Sequester-embed

A slide from the final page of Speaker John Boehner's Powerpoint to House Republicans on July 31st, 2011, obtained by The Daily Beast. Click to download full pdf.

  • Sets up a new sequestration process to cut spending across-the-board—and ensure that any debt limit increase is met with greater spending cuts—IF Joint Committee fails to achieve at least $1.2T in deficit reduction.
  • If this happens, POTUS may request up to $1.2T for a debt limit increase, and if granted, then across-the-board spending cuts would result that would equal the difference between $1.2T and the deficit reduction enacted as a result of Joint Committee.
  • Across-the-board spending cuts would apply to FYs 2013-2021, and apply to both mandatory & discretionary programs.
  • Total reductions would be equally split between defense and non-defense programs. Across-the-board cuts would also apply to Medicare. Other programs, including Social Security, Medicaid, veterans, and civil & military pay, would be exempt.
  • Sequestration process is designed to guarantee that Congress acts on the Joint Committee’s legislation to cut spending.

And that’s pretty much exactly what’s scheduled to start happening on March 1. Democrats could just as easily spin this as “Boehner’s Sequester” or “Cantor’s Sequester” and offer indelible digital evidence to back up their claim.

Boehner's office [of course] contests that characterization, arguing that the PowerPoint was simply Boehner’s attempt to explain the president's plan to the Republican caucus. [This is what one would expect him to say when caught red-handed.] "This slide simply shows a description of the Budget Control Act after President Obama insisted on including his sequester," says Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. [He says that now, but was was actually said contemporaneously at the time?]

Don't forget, immediately after brokering this deal the TanMan bragged to the media that "I got 98 percent of what I wanted," his version of a victory dance to rub it in the face of President Obama.

The GOP's alleged boy genius, Rep. Paul Ryan, talking to Fox News in August 2011, on automatic sequestration cuts:

"What conservatives like me have been fighting for, for years are statutory caps on spending, legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money. And if they breach that amount across the board, sequester comes in to cut that spending, and you can't turn that off without a supermajority vote. We got that in law. That is here." [emphasis added]

The TanMan said last week that he is prepared to allow the sequester to go into effect rather than concede one dime of new tax revenues, despite the fact that even he has said the sequester will be devastating to the economy and to the military.

Greg Sargent laid out the the totally dysfunctional GOP leader's reasoning today, Americans will blame GOP for sequester:

Republicans may simply be putting on a game face about the politics of the sequester because they may view it as a necessity at this point. As you may recall, a top GOP aide told Politico recently that a government shutdown fight might be necessary for Republican lawmakers to get the need for an apocalyptic confrontation with Obama “out of their system,” i.e., for “member management purposes.” But The Hill reports that Republican aides have revised this strategy; they have decided the sequester is a better target than the government shutdown to stage this confrontation.

And so the sequester is apparently necessary for rank and file lawmakers to get the need to stick it to Obama “out of their system.” Republicans have defined victory as agreeing to no new revenues whatsoever, so it’s unclear whether there’s any other way out of this for them. Surely some of them view the sequester as a good thing, and surely some genuinely believe the politics of this fight favors the GOP. We’ll see how this plays out, but it seems highly unlikely that they’ll be able to escape damage here.

The TanMan is willing to blow up the economic recovery and to cause unemployment because he has no control over the anti-government Tea Party economic terrorists in his caucus. Macroeconomic Advisers, an independent economic group, said Tuesday that sequestration would cost 700,000 jobs and push the unemployment rate a quarter of a percentage point higher than it otherwise would have been. Today, the Secretary of Defense announced, Panetta: 800K workers likely to be furloughed.

It is past time for the media villagers to cut through the bullshit and to put the blame where it lies: the Tea-Publican economic terrorists holding America's economy hostage to their extortionary demands.

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