Have Democrats Lost Sequestration Fight?
Ezra Klein thinks it’s pretty simple:
The Democrats have lost on sequestration.
That’s the simple reality of Friday’s vote to ease the pain for the Federal Aviation Administration. By assenting to it, Democrats have agreed to sequestration for the foreseeable future.
In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it’s even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It’s worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.
A few minutes ago, I explained why I think air traffic controllers are different from anti-poverty programs. The short version: the flight delays were created by government action, which is not the same thing as the government spending slightly less money on programs to fix social problems that arose on their own.
But, if Klein is right–that Congress will step in an patch the sequester for issues that generate public irritation–then he’s also right on his conclusion. But that’s essentially a tautology: if the public cares about everything but wealth redistribution programs, the Democrats should lose.