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Begala writes: "In a column on the budget, to maintain credibility with Beltway elites, I am supposed to claim the impasse is both parties' fault. It isn't."

Begala writes: 'The conventional wisdom is that Republicans won't support any more tax increases and Democrats won't support any more spending cuts. That's half right.' (photo: TPM Muckraker)
Begala writes: 'The conventional wisdom is that Republicans won't support any more tax increases and Democrats won't support any more spending cuts. That's half right.' (photo: TPM Muckraker)


The Great Sequester Lie

By Paul Begala, The Daily Beast

25 February 13

 

n a column on the budget, to maintain credibility with Beltway elites, I am supposed to claim the impasse is both parties' fault. It isn't. The conventional wisdom is that Republicans won't support any more tax increases and Democrats won't support any more spending cuts. That's half right.

House Democrats have proposed some sensible spending cuts: like doing away with the billions we spend subsidizing oil companies. With gas nearing $4 a gallon, does anyone really want to send taxpayers' money to the welfare queens of ExxonMobil? House Dems would also enact the Buffett rule (I prefer "Romney rule"), ending the obscenity in the tax code that lets hedge-fund managers pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

Not to be outdone, Senate Democrats have proposed $110 billion in spending cuts and tax increases: again, reducing oil subsidies (though not as much as the House Dems), ending the deduction businesses take for moving jobs overseas and trimming the defense budget and farm subsidies.

Finally, the White House boasts of having eliminated 77 government programs, including 16 at the Department of Education, 10 at Health and Human Services, and 4 at Labor. The president's budget calls for $30 billion in cuts to farm programs and $25 billion in savings from the post office.

The Republicans, for their part, did allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on income over $450,000, but they seem to have dug in their heels on the Romney rule and oil subsidies. They are blaming President Obama's "failed leadership" for the sequester and arguing that it was the White House that first proposed the gun-to-the-head approach. As the kids say, whatevs. The Democrats have come to the table with spending cuts. Will the Republicans join them and support some tax increases? Um, no. "Just last month," House Speaker John Boehner said, "The president got his higher taxes on the wealthy, and he's already back for more." True. But there is still some very low-hanging fruit on the revenue side. Republicans ought to at least embrace the Romney rule-if for no other reason than to punish Mitt for running such a lame campaign.

Meanwhile, some congressional Republicans are taking a break from complaining about government spending to complain about the lack of government spending. As Politico has reported, Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker is worried about cuts to the Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins is fretting over potential job losses at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, and John McCain has continued his longstanding opposition to a sequester, bringing it home by telling his fellow Arizonans, "They make the Apache helicopter in Mesa, Arizona. If they cut back, it would have to be affected there."

I would take it further. The new Tea Party senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, says, "I think we have to be prepared to go so far as to shut the government down if we don't get some serious policies to stop the out-of-control spending to tackle the debt." OK, let's start by shutting down federal spending in Texas. Federal funds account for 32 percent of the Lone Star State's budget. Oh, and how about Fort Hood? At 340 square miles, it is the biggest Army base in the free world and the largest single employer in Texas. All that federal spending must be sapping the souls of my fellow Texans. So let's move Fort Hood to, oh, say, Nevada. Sen. Harry Reid actually believes in federal investments, and the Nevada desert might provide good terrain for Fort Hood's tanks.

This could be fun. Oklahoma so hates Obama's big spending that every single county in the state voted for Mitt Romney. Oklahoma has twice the percentage of federal employees than the U.S. average, and Okies get $1.35 back from Washington for each dollar they pay in taxes. So close the massive FAA center in Oklahoma City. Move it to Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district, where they love big government.

Two years ago I made a similar argument about Kentucky, calling on Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul to put the Bluegrass State in detox for its addiction to local pork. No such luck. But perhaps the principle can apply to the sequester: enforce it only in states whose elected representatives won't support the taxes needed to fund the spending they want.


 

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+14 # Dorcas Black 2013-02-25 12:19
As a short-term political solution, most of Mr. Begala's proposals sound reasonable to me, if they only could be effected. But no one seems to want to talk honestly about the long-term budget issues, which are driven by demographics. The sequester is but a silly political sideshow that will cause short-term pain for little long-term gain. President Obama should never have discarded his own Simpson-Bowles commission report, but should've made it the basis for realistic tax and spending proposals for the nation's future.
 
 
+24 # Skeptical1247 2013-02-25 13:55
As I remember, the Simpson-Bowles Commission discarded its own report. There was never consensus on it. Now the Bobbsey twins of austerity are "re-introducing " the right-wing version of it, and working hard to get air-time for it. THe reason it failed is because the non-corporatist s could not stomach the thing.
 
 
+7 # Michael Lee Bugg 2013-02-26 10:58
Skeptical, I think you are correct about their recommendations did not get a consensus among the panel, but regardless it was "dead on arrival" because the Republican'ts would not accept one penny of tax increase at that time, even when Obama offered $5.00 of spending cuts for every $1.00 of tax increase! The Neo-Fascist Republicans see the budget mess they created (I think intentionally) as their long sought opportunity to "shrink the federal government to where it will fit in a bathtub, and then drown it!" or at least reduce as much non-defense spending, and regulatory agencies, as possible on behalf of their 1% masters. There was not, "too much government spending" when Clinton left us with budget surpluses projected to last till 2019, SIX years from now! That only changed with W's three tax cuts, two unfunded wars, and one wrecked economy! Unfortunately, Obama, who loathes the "Socialist" or even "liberal" labels, and the half-wit Democrats around him and in Confress, adopted Republican claims of "too much government spending" and the need for drastic cuts, and thus painted themselves in this corner, stuck with the "stupid sequester"! They are stupid. As long as the economy is weak there should be no reduction in government spending! We saw what happened in the fourth quarter of 2012 with small reductions in defense spending - the economy shrank again! The Republicans don't care what happens to jobs, home mortgages, retirement or health plans, or even old people!
 
 
+25 # RHytonen 2013-02-25 14:56
Quoting Dorcas Black:
As a short-term political solution, most of Mr. Begala's proposals sound reasonable to me, if they only could be effected. But no one seems to want to talk honestly about the long-term budget issues, which are driven by demographics. The sequester is but a silly political sideshow that will cause short-term pain for little long-term gain. President Obama should never have discarded his own Simpson-Bowles commission report, but should've made it the basis for realistic tax and spending proposals for the nation's future.


What, again, was "realistic" about a Simpson/Bowles report-based budget; the piles of dead senior bodies that would have to be extracted, at some unaccounted-for expense, from their homes where they would have starved or frozen to death? Or the fact that those espousing it (except the hedge fund managers)wouldn 't even survive it long enough to retire?
Then there's the even MORE corporatist current one they've been hired by those CEO's to hawk..
And, the long term one is more demagoguery than demographics, as it also ignores the long term recovery- which is at least as predictable. The high price of cat food, however, does NOT need to be predicted. It's here.
 
 
0 # NOMINAE 2013-03-01 21:39
Quoting Dorcas Black:
...... The sequester is but a silly political sideshow that will cause short-term pain for little long-term gain......


I agree with you that the sequester is *nothing* but Political Theater based upon NOTHING in Fact-based reality.

No enterprise runs without income. For Governments "income" is another name for "taxes". The rich must share.

This country is not even CLOSE to being "broke", this "Sequester" is just the first step to introducing full-out European-style austerity without provoking Greek / Spanish style riots. This is BOOM TIMES for the Int'l Banksters !

That's why your allusion to "short-term pain" gives me cause for pause. ... For one thing, most media are reporting this fiasco as an $85 billion cut, as if that was the end of it.

Very few sources are admitting that it's actually $85 billion THIS year and THEN over $100 Billion per annum for *EACH* of the next *NINE* years.

So, you know, $85 Bill here, $900 Bill there, and pretty soon your talking about REAL money, as the old saw says.

But, as you can see, in the same way that you can put a toad into a pan on the stove filled with cold water, and then slowly heat the water, the toad will "adjust" until it boils to death. If you were to drop the toad straight INTO hot water it would leap out in a flash.

In this scenario, the U.S. Taxpayers are the Toad.
The banksters are in charge of applying the heat
at the stove.

Good luck.
 
 
+84 # intheEPZ 2013-02-25 12:26
"the sequester: enforce it only in states whose elected representatives won't support the taxes needed to fund the spending they want."
Brilliant. Great compromise. Thanks for cutting through the B.S.
 
 
+69 # mjc 2013-02-25 13:06
Yeah! Let's move Fort Hood to Nevada...simila r desert kind of climate and then there is Vegas for leave time. Or...the "massive FAA center in Oklahoma City to San Francisco. The only thing the Republicans really hate about big government is big government they don't have complete control over. And when you get the Governor of Arizona, the original conservative and anti-Democrat, pleading to fellow Republicans to quit laying blame for the sequester and start negotiating how to end it, you know the concept is a winner! But still no action, just grumbling. It looks like education is going to be one of the biggest hits in all the states and it isn't one of the favorite issues for the Teapublicans. They seem to prefer "home schooling" with no research possibilities which might explain how some of them arrived at their ideology.
 
 
+60 # reiverpacific 2013-02-25 13:20
In other words and simply, stop Corporate Socialism and transfer it to social services.
That's about the depth of my understanding of the situation as an economic nincompoop. "Sequestration" which I understand to be a legal term referring to the act of valuable property being taken into custody by an agent of the court and locked away for safekeeping, usually to prevent the property from being disposed of or abused before a dispute over its ownership can be resolved.
Well, if this dog-and-pony show, especially by "Boner" his mud-stained, do-nothing Congress isn't abuse and over-statement of a situation, I don't know what is.
But what do I know?
 
 
+43 # Paul Scott 2013-02-25 13:21
Another republican created crises that could be repealed by the republican house if the republicans in the senate would not fillerbuster it.
 
 
0 # Walter J Smith 2013-02-26 15:36
Excuse me, but where is the evidence supporting the claim that the House could repeal that crisis, or those crises it created (with a lot of Democratic party help, by the way)?

I don't see the evidence, in either party of the House.
 
 
0 # Paul Scott 2013-02-26 23:13
Excuse me, what congress gives birth to congress can abort; you need to tone up on the constitution; how do you think the 5 republican cricies over the debt ceiling, since 2011, cans have gotten kicked down the road a three or four months at a time.
 
 
+38 # Buddha 2013-02-25 13:27
Heck yes! Alternately, why don't we just let those Red States who kept going on about secession actually go? They can have their Ayn Rand Social Darwinist no-government spending nirvana and look like Equatorial Guinea, we get the blue states who have been subsidizing them for decades anyways.
 
 
+31 # Banichi 2013-02-25 13:59
I like it! Take all that (so-called) government pork and move it from states that hate it to states that could use it (and well!)

Then the Repuglicans in Congress who want to destroy government by and for the people could deal with the people in their states who lose by their sequestered attitude.
 
 
+23 # flippancy 2013-02-25 16:54
Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Since Republicans have been screwing up the economy ever since the Oblivious twit Ronald Reagan, the only possible conclusion is that Republicans as a class are insane.
 
 
+16 # Rain17 2013-02-25 16:55
The problem here is due to several factors. First of all, for decades, the right has been whining about the "liberal media". To that end media outlets now go out of their way to be more "fair" to the Republicans and ask them easily questions, while maintaining a more aggressive posture with Democrats. Indeed, in 2001, CNN Executives even met with GOP leadership on Capital Hill to figure how to be "more fair" to the GOP. In fact I think I saw a study somewhere stating that Republicans get invited to Sunday morning TV shows more often than Democrats now.

The other point is that the Republicans are much, much better at managing the media, marketing, framing the debate, and managing their message. They know how to market their policies effectively to the general electorate, who, for a variety of reasons that I won't go into here, aren't that very informed about the issues. The GOP is much better at getting their message reduced to a short, but to the point, soundbite that people can easily remember.

Finally the conservative movement has "experts" who can appear on these shows under short notice. The left doesn't have that and their "experts" often get tripped up because they don't know how to talk in plain English.

Bottom line: The right is able to get away with a lot because they have learned to manage the media. Democrats continue to fall behind.
 
 
+5 # Floridatexan 2013-02-26 08:06
In all truth, Rain, Republicans were NOT better at messaging in the last election, even with the piles of cash they threw in the trash. Why...(you may ask)? Because their platform is a joke and they have nothing to offer the majority of the people.
 
 
+3 # charsjcca 2013-02-25 17:16
End our credit card economy. Let it happen.
 
 
+1 # Depressionborn 2013-02-26 09:50
Oops, the largest U.S. banks aren’t really profitable at all? What if the billions of dollars they allegedly earn for their shareholders were almost entirely a gift from U.S. taxpayers?

Simply our government at work for our good.
 
 
+2 # Walter J Smith 2013-02-26 15:38
Their profits are gifts from taxpayers, and Elizabeth Warren, almost alone in the Senate, is trying all she can to reveal this to the public.

But the party of Hate doesn't like that.

They are addicted to pork, and just don't like the pork the Ds hand out to the Ds' favorite corporations.
 
 
+18 # kalpal 2013-02-25 17:29
What incentive do the GOPers have to stop lying? Lying has gotten them this far and they hope to keep lying as a means of blaming all evil in the universe on Obama and his evil cronies in Congress.

BAH HUMBUG!
 
 
-4 # Depressionborn 2013-02-26 13:45
Kalpal: What incentive do the GOPers have to stop lying?

They can't stop. They have joined the Dems.

The only solution is for us all to work for government. No taxes, good pay. We need money, we can borrow. BAH HUMBUG!
 
 
+15 # artic fox 2013-02-25 20:39
Can these teaparty idiots be impeached en masse for dereliction of duty and failure to uphold their sworn duty to uphold the Constitution by failing to protect the Country, wasting taypayers money ( the salaries they collect) by spending time in the House mouthing the very Constitution they swore to uphold?
 
 
+3 # BradFromSalem 2013-02-26 08:20
All I ever hear from the Republican noise machine is same droning sound. It sounds like they are saying "cuts"? Really? Why? And the more they say cut, the more I would say no more cuts. Each time they say that the President had his tax increase, now its time to cut. I would say, OK. By the way since we are now keeping score, you owe me a bazillion tax increases; but just to be nice lets just start at January 2009. How many cuts in taxes and in government spending have we had since then. Yea, the President got one measly compromised tax increase while you guys got how many cuts? Time to pay up dudes. You bet the 2012 election that your cuts would win the day, so stop playing like little baby fascists.

All I really want from these Republicans is a story that I can believe that will demonstrate how decimating a major component of our economy will provide recovery. Just 1 story.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2013-02-27 20:28
Sorry BradFromSalem. I think you are going to run out of other peoples money.

If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more … you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots
 
 
+5 # rockieball 2013-02-26 09:53
The Republicans have to wake up and realize that they cannot fight against ending corporate welfare and for continued cuts in social programs in order to fund that welfare and still think that the people (outside the Tea Party) will fall for it. They can no longer use the GUNS, GOD, and GAYS rhetoric to cover up the fact that they are allowing the rape of this country by the rich, the banks and the corporations.
 
 
+4 # Buddha 2013-02-26 11:35
South Carolina's Nikki Haley was demagoguing the issue yesterday. A quick calculation, if we cut federal spending in South Carolina down to the level that it matches the federal revenues received from South Carolina, it would save us $16B, almost 20% of the target the GOP keeps aiming for. Time to agree with them, and give them the cuts they want...but focused solely on those "moocher" states who send significantly less to the federal governenment than they pay into it. So sad they are mostly Red Southern States. But perhaps then they won't be so hypocritical and calling for domestic spending cuts when they see their own moocher state economies eviscerated. There better not be a single cut in states like California and New York who have been sending $3 to the federal government for every $2 we get back for decades, subsidizing those ungrateful moocher states for so long. Enough is enough, use their own language and hyporcrisy against them. I wish Obama would make this point right back at them.
 
 
+1 # mjc 2013-02-26 13:13
Believe that IS what is needed. Obama needs to point out to those Red states and to the rest of us just how depended on the federal government those states are and how little they achieve for the nation as a whole.
 
 
0 # Walter J Smith 2013-02-26 15:41
Obama doesn't have the courage to cut the fat where the fat is most greasy.

He, too, is addicted to big lard, uh, pork. No matter where it is greasy.
 
 
0 # jadedminds 2013-02-26 17:09
Lets face it, sense its creation some where in ancient Sumeria, our "economy" (as its called) has crashed more times than Launch Pad Mc'Quack. We need a viable system that doesn't call upon insanity to follow. Sense I have no idea of where to begin on that subject, I propose a fix that is both quick and sustainable. End free enterprise, put a ceiling on what a business can earn in one year based on the size of the business and how many it employs, kinda like a tax bracket system. Then either make businesses pay taxes on their yearly earnings if under the cap and "donate" any "overflow" OR forgo the traditional taxes and just donate all overflow to the public education departments. Instead of people just trying to get rich quick (stock market)and corporations strip-mining our planet, we have an education system that is set up for ALL OF HUMANITY to stagger out of the darkness and provide a real future for our race. I mean, look at the numbers people... We as a race are farming plants into extinction!!! How do you farm a plant into extinction?!??! ?!?!?!??? The issues we are arguing are designed that way to make us turn away from the real problems we as a consumerist nation are causing. Get our political house in order, simplify the problem, fire these idiots and then fix it. The "Fix" may be realizing inconvenient truths, but close your ears and THINK! I know it can be hard, but apply the WD-40 and get those damn motors running, THINK! DAMN YOU! THINK!
 
 
+1 # FreedomGirl 2013-02-27 17:32
Hey there, Republicans. You have had your tax cuts for all those job creators for nearly a dozen years. One Question...Wher e Are The Jobs??!!
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2013-02-28 11:47
The Great Sequester Lie, By Paul Begala?

Mr. Begala seems to have forgotten to tell us where the money comes from. Hint: (It's not free, has to be earned.)

Maybe he doesn't know. It's possible.
 
 
+2 # dkonstruction 2013-02-28 13:08
What about the lie that the sequester actually cuts the defense budget. All it does is cut the rate of growth of the defense budget which is the way the Congressional Budget Office, among others, defines cuts but to the rest of the world cutting the growth rate of something is not a cut as the, in this case, the defense department will still grow. what we need are real cuts in the defense budget not only to deal with the debt/deficit "problem" (which really isn't a problem but most have been sold a bill of goods that it is) but also ensure that vitally needed social programs are not just not cut but actually expanded which also goes for investments we should be making in education, health care, infrastructure rebuilding, transitioning off of fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy etc..
 
 
0 # NOMINAE 2013-03-01 21:52
Quoting dkonstruction:
What about the lie that the sequester actually cuts the defense budget. All it does is cut the rate of growth of the defense budget which is the way the Congressional Budget Office, among others, defines cuts but to the rest of the world cutting the growth rate of something is not a cut as the, in this case, the defense department will still grow. what we need are real cuts in the defense budget not only to deal with the debt/deficit "problem" (which really isn't a problem but most have been sold a bill of goods that it is) but also ensure that vitally needed social programs are not just not cut but actually expanded which also goes for investments we should be making in education, health care, infrastructure rebuilding, transitioning off of fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy etc..


You are fully correct on THAT one ! The Pentagon "cuts" are NOT real. But the other cuts ARE real. The Pentagon "cuts" were supposed to be the "Carrot" that would ease the pain and the justifiable outrage over the social CUTS, which, I say again, ARE real.

We are being "soft walked" into European-Style Austerity Economies that simply make the Banksters ECSTATIC.

$85 Billion THIS year .... $100 Billion per year for each of the Nine Years to come. And that's just the Bankster's opening volley.
 
 
0 # da gaf 2013-03-07 19:04
don't worry all of these greedy ugly re-puke-licans will surely come back as cockroaches- one of the lowest form of life.. good only for stepping on..they must have so much pus in their heads to behave in such a sick ignorant fashion in Congress.
 

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