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Nobody In Washington Cares About Governing, And It’s Hurting The Country

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As we sit here nine days away from the imposition of the Sequestration Cuts that President Obama, and many Republican defense hawks, the main argument in Washington isn’t about how to stop the cuts from the taking place, but who is responsible for them. Republicans point out, correctly, that the sequester was an idea that originated with the White House during the August 2011 negotiations over increasing the debt ceiling. Democrats, on the other hand, point to the fact that it was GOP instrasigence on the debt ceiling that made the sequester necessary. Chris Cillizza make the case, quite convincingly, that Congress will likely get the political blame for the sequester if it isn’t averted either before March 1st or shortly thereafter. However, as Ron Fournier argues, this ongoing battle over who is responsible for the sequester and who will get blamed if it goes in to effect is exactly the wrong debate to be having at this moment:

Your federal government is almost certain to blow past the March 1 deadline for averting $1.2 trillion in haphazard budget cuts that could cost 700,000 jobs. Don’t worry. We know whom to blame. President Obama makes a credible case that he has reached farther toward compromise than House Republicans.

But knowing who’s at fault doesn’t fix the problem. To loosely quote Billy Joel: You may be right, Mr. President, but this is crazy.

Is this fiscal standoff (the fifth since Republicans took control of the House in 2011) just about scoring political points, or is it about governing?

If it’s all about politics, bully for Obama. A majority of voters will likely side with the president over Republicans in a budget dispute because of his popularity and the GOP’s pathetic approval ratings.

If it’s about governing, the story changes: In any enterprise, the chief executive is ultimately accountable for success and failure. Sure, blame Congress — castigate all 535 lawmakers, or the roughly half you hate. But there is only one president. Even if he’s right on the merits, Obama may be on the wrong side of history.

Based on the rhetoric we’re seeing from both sides of the aisle, it’s rather obvious that the powers that be in Washington are far more concerned with whatever political gain they can get from this sequester “crisis” rather than actual governing. That’s why you see the President holding press conferences like the one that he did yesterday surrounded by police officers and firefighters as he repeats the claim that allowing these cuts to go through would place Americans in danger. In reality we’re talking about $85 billion in cuts out of a budget of more than $3 trillion, a mere 2.9% of the total Federal Budget. Additionally, these aren’t really cuts we’re talking about, but merely decreases in the rate of growth of spending. More broadly, sequestration would result in cutting just $1.2 trillion from the rate of growth in Federal spending over 10 years, a period over which we’re likely to spend some $30 trillion. The idea that cuts this miniscule will endanger the country is simply absurd, and the President knows it. The reason they White House is pushing this meme has nothing to do with governing, and everything to do with trying to score political points in the latest political showdown with Congress. Republicans aren’t much better, of course. At the same time that they’re saying that the cuts must go forward, they’re continuing to warn about the supposedly devastating impact that they will have on the nation’s military and, as I noted above, trying to blame the President for the cuts. Again, their response to the cuts has nothing to do to with governing and everything to do with scoring political points against the President.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that there is politics going on in Washington, but we’re getting to the point now where it threatens to do actual damage to the nation. Here we are at yet another budget “crisis,” and nobody in Washington seems at all interested in actually tackling our problems. There are a few exceptions, but you can count them two hands and still have fingers left over. Every time Washington is presented with an opportunity to actually do something serious about our fiscal problems — the so-called “Grand Bargain” — the deal falls apart because neither side is willing to sacrifice its sacred cows. Republicans don’t want to give in on taxes, and Democrats resist any serious talk about entitlement reform even tough it’s blindingly obvious that neither Social Security nor Medicare will survive fiscally if we don’t do something to fix them. And neither side is serious about anything other than scoring political points and winning the next election. Yes, this has been a part of politics from the beginning but there also used to be politicians who were able to put politics aside and do what the nation needed to get done. We don’t have politicians like that anymore, and we’re paying the price for it.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    Wow. Both sides do it.

    This is something of a breakthrough. When did you have time to come up with this?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 60 Thumb down 2

  2. Console says:

    Pox on both houses? Political points? Obama isn’t up for reelection…There’s people not interested in governing, but it’s pretty one-sided.

    And can we drop this tax/entitlement conventional wisdom nonsense? The last administration to find savings in Medicare was… oh yeah, the Obama administration. When they got blasted for “death panels.” And republicans have no problems raising taxes as long as it isn’t rich people (see: payroll tax cut’s non-extension).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 4

  3. Console says:

    @anjin-san:

    Yeah. Could have sworn this blog was called outside the beltway.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  4. grumpy realist says:

    As long as Congresscritters keep getting elected, they’ll continue to do stuff like this. It brings in the punters and fills the coffers, and that’s all they want.

    Get rid of the gerrymandered districts, make elections actually competitive, and you might see this start to go away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  5. john personna says:

    I would say the people know what’s going on:

    Congress Approval Holding Steady at 15%

    Separately, party breakdown is:

    The poll found that 49 percent of respondents have a negative view of the GOP, the highest negative marks for the party in the poll since 2008. Just 26 percent said they have a positive view of the Republican Party.

    In contrast, 44 percent of adults surveyed said they have a positive view of the Democratic Party, while 38 percent have a negative one.

    In the face of that data, “nobody cares” is about the most meaningless data you can extract.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  6. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Elections have consequences, Chief. And once you step outside the coffee klatches and sewing circles of the chattering classes they have severe effects on real people.

    Excessive and feckless government spending already destroyed the futures of our kids and grandkids and is poised to destroy the present for many more of us. Leftism already destroyed the country’s education systems. Have you ever interviewed one of these Gen. Y mannequins for a job? Geez. It’s surreal. Crack addicts are less loopy. Check out the unemployment rates for those under age 30. They’re not coincidental.

    We don’t have a media. We have a propaganda squad for one faction of one party.

    Our elections have devolved into partisan politics by pure racial and tribal identities. The Founders would be rolling over in their graves. Lincoln too.

    We’re saddled with preposterous anti-business regulations. We’re saddled with a preposterous tax code. We’re saddled with ludicrous anti-trade policies. We’re saddled with absurd spending priorities. We’re saddled with catastrophic central banking policies.

    When a country devolves into a de facto banana republic you can’t really act all surprised that it operates, gee whiz, a lot like a de facto banana republic.

    It’s all added up. And now it’s time to pay the tab. Then things will get a lot worse. Leftism as policy is to a nation’s economy and governance what bone cancer is to a person’s health.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 34

  7. CB says:

    How the hell does it get glossed over that…

    …it was GOP instrasigence on the debt ceiling that made the sequester necessary

    This entire debacle is a result of the GOP trying to use the debt ceiling increase as leverage. They took a completely innocuous and heretofore regular process, and politicized the shit out of it. You dont get to turn around and criticize the people trying to deal with such crass politicization. Im usually open to spreading the blame around, but sweet jesus, this is flat out insane.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 1

  8. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Ha ha, that was an excellent example of your poetry of prejudice.

    Truth is the gerrymandered Republican minority is using filibuster and etc. to prevent governance.

    People know that, hence the poor approval for their tactics, above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  9. CB says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Not to be rude, but give it a rest, or get new material, man. The split seconds that it takes to pass over your comments are starting to add up.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 2

  10. New Here says:

    I might lose 20% of my paycheck for half a year. I know that it’s popular to hate government workers, but I’m 24 and trying to build up my savings. This will eat into much, if not all, of what I’ve saved since graduation.

    I wish you would focus on more than just the political angle of this issue.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  11. gVOR08 says:

    Another crisis manufactured by Republicans. This is no way to run a country.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 3

  12. Moosebreath says:

    “In any enterprise, the chief executive is ultimately accountable for success and failure.”

    And in enterprise, the chief executive can fire employees who do not follow his directives. Is Mr. Fournier advocating giving Obama the power to fire congresscritters? If not, then the analogy doesn’t fit.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 1

  13. raoul says:

    SSA is not in actuary trouble- and the real issue is not governace per se but how are going to continue to deliver medical treatments in this country. Mind you, I am sure you DM would like to reduce the government role even if it increases costs- I do find that irrational. On the crux of your post – “both sides are at fault”- let me ask you a question-could you reach a deal with Obama? So who really is incalcitrant here-it is not a two sides do it situation-what you are trying to get a job in a major newspaper? End ramble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  14. Motopilot says:

    John Avalon at The Daily Beast came across an email from Boehner containing an interesting PowerPoint presentation on the Sequester.

    Quote from his article:

    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.

    Full article and powerpoint slide at:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Motopilot says:

    @Motopilot: @Motopilot:

    Hmm. The link did not insert, but hitting “Reply” in my comment above takes me to the link. Anyway, this is the link:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/20/the-powerpoint-that-proves-it-s-not-obama-s-sequester-after-all.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. David M says:

    It is funny to read conservative complaints that Obama is campaigning against the sequester and wants to replace it with a different set of cuts and revenue increases. Wasn’t that the point of the sequester?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  17. Lynda says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Leftism already destroyed the country’s education systems. Have you ever interviewed one of these Gen. Y mannequins for a job? Geez. It’s surreal. Crack addicts are less loopy. Check out the unemployment rates for those under age 30. They’re not coincidental

    Recessions ALWAYS hit young people harder than more experienced workers, especially those with less education.

    I grew up in Mrs Thatcher’s 80s and graduated in 1990 – her last after 13 years in office – to an absolutely dreadful youth labor market especially in Liverpool near where I lived.

    Sure, governments can affect things on the margin but the first thing companies do in a recession is stop new hiring and this disproportionally hits young people. This is true regardless of the politics of the government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @New Here: I’m sympathetic, but that’s simply a risk of the career you chose. Government jobs offer, generally, great job security and great benefits, but this is one of the downsides.

    If the money ain’t there, the money ain’t there. And when we’re spending around a trillion more every year than we take in, then the money ain’t there.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 19

  19. grumpy realist says:

    The heck with it. Let’s go for a balanced budget. We’ll cut military, social security, and medicare sufficiently to balance the accounts. Equally.

    The hell with this continued support for the Baby Boomers (and I’m one myself.) People on Medicare get three times back what they put into the system. Let’s go to rationing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Motopilot: Interesting link. May I post a paragraph from that?

    Boehner’s office contests that characterization, arguing that the PowerPoint was simply Boehner’s attempt to explain the president’s plan to the Republican caucus. “This slide simply shows a description of the Budget Control Act after President Obama insisted on including his sequester,” says Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.

    The author went to zero lengths to prove or disprove that explanation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  21. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The author went to zero lengths to prove or disprove that explanation.

    Why would anyone take Boehner’s statement seriously?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  22. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: Why would anyone take The Daily Beast seriously?

    BTW, the Washington Post also says Obama owns the sequester.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  23. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian #13

    then the money ain’t there

    I seem to recall you lobbying for more aircraft carrier battle groups not so long ago. Where was that money coming from?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  24. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The GOP owns the sequester and any subsequent consequences completely by themselves, as they started the debt-ceiling fiasco in 2011 and are the ones unwilling to negotiate an alternate deficit reduction plan.

    If the GOP wants spending cuts, then they own the spending cuts and political consequences. I fail to see why they aren’t taking credit for their success with the sequester.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  25. C. Clavin says:

    We are already short at least 1.5M government jobs since the beginning of the Bush Contraction…probably more. Can we stand to lose even more than that? Sure, why not. Austerity in the face of economic weakness seems prudent. At least to idiots.
    I’m sure this too shall pass…but when Doug and Tsar and Jenos and all the others start complaining about an even slower economic recovery afterwords…be sure to remind them they are getting exactly what they asked for.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  26. Ben says:

    The whole point of the sequester was to force a compromise. The Democrats are offering both tax increases and spending cuts. The Republicans are refusing to compromise. How much longer can you keep up with “both sides do it” BS, Doug?

    You’re excoriating Obama for his part in this, but what exactly is it that Obama is supposed to be able to do about it?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  27. LaMont says:

    Doug…. geez!

    Where do your “both sides do it” perspective end? That is a lazy way of viewing the politics of today.

    Obama is and always has been willing to put “sacred cows” on the table. So much so that he has been torched for being a terrible negotiator because he tended to start off negotiations giving too much (an attempt at good faith). Were you not paying attention during the entire fiscal cliff debacle? Where you not aware that Obama compromised on extending the Bush tax cuts from those making $250,000 and less to those making $400,000 and less? How about the fact that he did not seek the extension of the payroll tax cut that mainly benefited the middle class (while republicans took 10 years to budge on the Bush tax cuts that mainly benefited the wealthy). Does that alone not tell you who is protecting what “sacred cow” at the cost of the country? Obama allowed that in spite of his campaigning to generally protect the middle class from tax increases. Lets also not forget that Obama created severe heartburn among his Democratic peers when he proposed lowering the cost-of-living increases for social security beneficiaries. He did this all in the name of “shared sacrifice” while callig on tax increases (or the elimination of the Bush tax cuts) for the wealthy. So when Obama says he wants to take a balanced and reasonable approach at tackling the deficit, who has more credibility? It isn’t political posturing when he says he will not allow cuts that mainly affect the middle class without also extending the sacrifice to the wealthy! And yes, he will score political points. Thats becuase popular opinion is on his side – which isn’t hard to accomplish when you’re dealing with this breed of Republicans today!

    Bottom line is, there is only one party in Washington that does not care to govern. This is what is hurting this country. Ron Fournier says it best;

    Is this fiscal standoff (the fifth since Republicans took control of the House in 2011) just about scoring political points, or is it about governing?

    Notice how he elluded to the fact that the “fifth” started AFTER the Republicans took office!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  28. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Of course, Boehner’s moron statement does nothing to disprove anything. Sure, he sent this slide out after the sequester passed — AND HE WAS BRAGGING ABOUT IT.

    I doubt you even bothered to read what Boehner typed before repeating it. Too busy expressing fake sympathy for a government employee about to have her pay cut to make sure oil companies keep their government subsidies.

    I wish you’d got out and get a job and see what real life is like before you post anymore. You might change your tone.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  29. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    BTW, the Washington Post also says Obama owns the sequester.

    Actually, WaPo says the White House proposed the sequester. They did. The Republicans agreed, insisted it be all cuts and no revenue, and overwhelmingly voted for it. After it passed, the speaker told CBS, “when you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.”

    I guess in your mind when Republicans vote for something in Congress, they are not in any way responsible for those votes. How convenient for them.

    The reality is that both Congress and the White House worked to devise the sequester, and then they passed/signed it. The only reason it was necessary is because the GOP refuses to compromise on anything, and it was meant to kick the can down the road a bit with consequences severe enough to force them to deal with it. Now the Republicans claim they don’t want to deal with it, because they refuse to govern as they were elected to do. They think doing nothing will hurt them less with their rabid, idiotic base, so they are willing to damage the economy to (hopefully) avoid Tea Party primary challenges in 2014, to the detriment of us all.

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  30. C. Clavin says:

    Jon Chait sums this up well:

    “…Boehner is an unpopular leader of an unpopular party advocating unpopular ideas…”

    I’m sure allowing this sequester to happen will improve all those things measurably.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  31. David M says:

    Part of the problem we’re facing is caused by people pretending the parties are equally at fault, and not calling out the group acting irresponsibly. Regardless of who proposed the sequester, one group is proposing to replace it with a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. The other group is not proposing anything serious. Unless people identify the groups and call out the bad actors, they are rewarding the bad behavior.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  32. Ben Wolf says:

    The idea that cuts this miniscule will endanger the country is simply absurd, and the President knows it.

    In a healthy economy the above might be true, but our economy (and that of the while developed world) is sick. It had a massive heart-attack in 2007-2008 and has been kept alive only by government life support ever since.

    A very small change when we are suffering large economic drags (massive private debt, declining household incomes, mass unemployment, payroll tax increases) can be disastrous.

    We’re already balanced on the edge of a knife. All it takes is a little puff. . l

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  33. Babel says:

    I don’t really see how a reasonable thinking person can blame the President for not being willing to compromise. He has repeatedly offered both Social Security and Medicare cuts if only the Republicans will offer some revenues. They never do. Ever. Just doing the cuts anyway isn’t compromising, that’s giving in. The only alternative they have ever offered is to replace 100% of the defense cuts with more domestic cuts. Again, that is not a compromise. I don’t know how this will play out in the court of public opinion and honestly with the way congress works it really doesn’t matter. But enough of this a pox on both their houses crap, it’s just not true.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  34. anjin-san says:

    If the money ain’t there, the money ain’t there. And when we’re spending around a trillion more every year than we take in, then the money ain’t there.

    Still waiting for you to reconcile this statement with your starry-eyed support for Romney’s great white fleet…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  35. Woody says:

    The notion that the Democrats must compromise on entitlements is predicated on an enormous pile of BS: that the Democrats must propose the cuts.

    Why?

    If the Republican Party wants cuts in entitlements, then they should propose what those cuts should be.

    What the GOP really wants is for the Democrats to own both tax increases AND entitlement cuts – which the Republicans will scream about nonstop in 2014.

    Instead, we get what we usually get – the Rugged Individualist Party whining that Barack Obama isn’t rescuing them from themselves.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 0

  36. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Republicans created the Debt Ceiling ‘crisis’ to leverage the situation into Sequestration and mandatory spending cuts. It worked, and now Republicans are going to push the economy into recession. Thank you Republican Party. The GOP can’t leave the United States to return to North Korea soon enough.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  37. Ben Wolf says:

    @anjin-san: I’d love to know where people who opine the “money ain’t there” think the reserves used to buy Treasurys came from.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  38. matt parker says:

    Cilliza’s commentary rests on a common but damaging false analogy. It is wrong to compare the US president to a corporate CEO and Congress as the staff. This is the clear implication of his comment. A better analogy would be that Congress is a disfunctional board of directors.

    This doesn’t mean that Doug is wrong that blame shifting doesn’t solve the problem. But it is important to remember that it is Congress’ responsibility to determined how and how much the government is to be funded.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  39. DRE says:

    @Woody:

    What the GOP really wants is for the Democrats to own both tax increases AND entitlement cuts – which the Republicans will scream about nonstop in 2014.

    Exactly right. And the proof is the attempt to blame Obama for the sequester, when it is obvious to any honest observer that it was concession they forced with the debt ceiling fiasco.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  40. Hal 10000 says:

    In reality we’re talking about $85 billion in cuts out of a budget of more than $3 trillion, a mere 2.9% of the total Federal Budget. Additionally, these aren’t really cuts we’re talking about, but merely decreases in the rate of growth of spending. More broadly, sequestration would result in cutting just $1.2 trillion from the rate of growth in Federal spending over 10 years, a period over which we’re likely to spend some $30 trillion.

    Doug, I’m going to have to disagree with you. As an overall budget figure, you are correct. However, from the programs we’re talking about – discretionary spending, which is a fraction of total government spending — these are very large. By completely excluding entitlements, they have concentrated these cuts in a small but critical fraction, including law enforcement, science, etc. It’s like trying to lose weight by cutting off your feet instead of dieting.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  41. Spartacus says:

    Doug wrote:

    Based on the rhetoric we’re seeing from both sides of the aisle, it’s rather obvious that the powers that be in Washington are far more concerned with whatever political gain they can get from this sequester “crisis” rather than actual governing.

    This is the way representative government is supposed to work. Neither side is capable of imposing its will so they both have to try to gain leverage in order to compel the other side to compromise. Well, that “leverage” comes from gaining popular support. And you gain popular support by scoring political points.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  42. Spartacus says:

    Doug also wrote:

    Every time Washington is presented with an opportunity to actually do something serious about our fiscal problems — the so-called “Grand Bargain” — the deal falls apart because neither side is willing to sacrifice its sacred cows.

    This is factually not true and Doug knows this because it has been pointed out to him repeatedly. The fact that he keeps writing this demonstrates his lack of intellectual integrity.

    Please stop it. It’s disrespectful to the readers and it is below what we hope to encounter at OTB.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  43. bk says:

    @Spartacus:

    it is below what we hope to encounter at OTB.

    But it IS, unfortunately, what we have come to expect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  44. LaMont says:

    @bk:

    But it IS, unfortunately, what we have come to expect.

    I’d say from Doug mostly! Sometimes I feel like he does this intentionally. Either way, it is as Spartacus notes – disrepectful indeed!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  45. An Interested Party says:

    Excessive and feckless government spending already destroyed the futures of our kids and grandkids and is poised to destroy the present for many more of us.

    It’s very interesting that we’ve been hearing this doomsday news since about January 20, 2009 and yet, massive deficits have been a part of the federal government since Reagan was president over 30 years ago…

    We don’t have a media. We have a propaganda squad for one faction of one party.

    The Victimhood Tour continues from a warped and wounded conservative…

    I don’t really see how a reasonable thinking person can blame the President for not being willing to compromise.

    Doug has consistently shown that he isn’t a reasonable person (he is a libertarian, after all), so of course he has to fall back on “both sides are to blame”…

    By the way, it really is quite naive and foolish to compare the federal government to a corporation just as it is quite naive and foolish to compare the federal budget to a household budget…better analogies please…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  46. Motopilot says:

    Byron York at The Washington Examiner asks a good question:

    In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner describes the upcoming sequester as a policy “that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.” Which leads to the question: Why would Republicans support a measure that threatens national security and thousands of jobs?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  47. Marcus Notrealius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: The WH responded… from the same article you linked.

    “The only reason that a sequester is in place is because both sides in Congress — Democrats and Republicans — voted for it in the Budget Control Act to force Congress to act. In fact, 2 out of 3 Republicans in Congress — including Congressman Ryan — voted for it and many praised it at the time. The President was making the point that the sequester was never intended to be policy, and that Congress must act to replace it with balanced deficit reduction. They can and should do that.

    “In addition, the notion that we wanted the sequester is false. The fact of the matter is that we wanted a trigger that included balance and specifically asked more from the wealthiest individuals on the revenue side. Congressional Republicans refused.”

    The GOP owns the sequester. The fact that the weasely little children are pretending they don’t is just par for the course. When in the last five years have you ever met a Republicans who told the truth when it comes to Barack HUSSEIN Obama? Their hatred for that black man is palpable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  48. Jc says:

    Remember when the government approached the debt ceiling and then just raised it? Ah, the good old days, now we have old guys who are dazed and confused. The BCA of 2011should have never existed. Remember back in 2011 when Boner could not even get his own solution through congress? Remember when there were like, I don’t know, 4-5 ideas that could not make it through congress? Then the sequester, and it was passed by 70% house GOP and 60% senate GOP, but this is not the plan the President preferred, yet Boehner said he got 98% of what he wanted, yet it’s the presidents fault….but I think just raising the debt ceiling might have made a little more sense, but I forget, the sky is falling, we are all doomed, let me go work on my bunker and prepare for the zombie apocalypse

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  49. Jc says:

    I found a draft of the Prez’s 1st debt ceiling bill “please raise the debt ceiling as you have done every time before, thank you …” Man, that is some crazy liberal communist idea that will lead to the decline of us all!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  50. anjin-san says:

    @ Jc

    I still remember the good old days, when “deficit hawk” Paul Ryan voted for every single budget busting bill Bush put in front of Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  51. Justinian says:

    The whole way of thinking on this topic, whether on this blog or throughout the country, shows how very far removed we are from the original Constitutional order.

    Both throughout the debates of the Constitutional Convention and in the final document, it is clear that authority to spend is vested primarily in the House of Representatives. The Senate, representing the States, was expected mostly to go along with what the House proposed, and the President was supposed to execute the laws the Legislature passed.

    There was a phrase “No taxation without representation.” It was not, at that time, completely devoid of meaning, and in fact meant that the House of Representatives sit in the driver’s seat on all matters of taxing and spending. It has now been replaced by a new maxim: “Elections (to the U.S. Presidency) have consequences.” Elections to the House or Senate, presumably, do not.

    The very idea that the House is supposed to compromise with the President on issues of spending is alien to the original sensibilities on which the United States was founded. Of course, the House itself is so polarized—split in two—along divisions of party lines that it is not surprising that it does not function as originally intended.

    So, let the blame game continue and occupy center stage. It will help distract the nation’s attention from how utterly dysfunctional affairs really are in Washington.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  52. anjin-san says:

    @ Justinian

    Tell me something, were the founding fathers deadbeats? You know, like the Republicans in the house who don’t want to pay for spending they approved. Was that what the founders intended?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  53. Davebo says:

    I’d say from Doug mostly! Sometimes I feel like he does this intentionally.

    Don’t kid yourself. Though Doug is certainly less creative than James (read one trick pony) James does exactly the same thing on a regular basis. With James it’s like selling Lucky Charms. A ton of sugar with just a touch of wheat to let you know it’s morning.

    Doug is blatantly intellectually dishonest. James is subtly intellectually dishonest. Sort of a good cop/ slightly less bad cop scenario.

    And seriously. Who do you think brought Doug on and approves the expenditures?

    It’s a sad state of affairs but it’s true. The rest of the right blogosphere is so batsh#t crazy OTB seems reasonable. But in the end it’s just Fox News without the louder blowhards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  54. David M says:

    @Justinian:

    Looking for change like that is pretty unrealistic and I think you’d just be trading one set of problems for another. Anyway, the idea of “how” the founders envisioned the government functioning is pretty irrelevant unless they actually put it into law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  55. Babel says:

    @Justinian:

    You’re right that the solution to the sequester since it involves taxation and spending should start in the house. But then you have the current speaker going on TV saying the house is ready to be lead by the president or that it’s the senate’s job to come up with a solution. That’s all on the speaker and the fact that he’s horrible at his job and can’t even run his own caucus much less the whole house.

    And since whatever they passed would also have to pass the senate and be signed by the president I find it hard to believe that the founders intended those other parts of the system to simply rubber stamp what the house passed. The fact that they have to agree on the final product gives them input into what is decided.

    If the founders failed somewhere I think it was in assuming that individual legislators would act on their own as they saw fit. Instead we have a system where party trumps everything. Especially with the Republican party. They play hardball with their members and if you don’t toe the line then you get booted off committee assignments or loose out on opportunities to be chairman or ranking member of committees when it’s otherwise your turn. In effect we have a party first parliamentary system without the majority rules part that makes it work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  56. Mr. Replica says:

    Both sides obviously are the problem. Republicans not willing to govern, and Democrats like Obama failing to bend the GOP over the chair and make them their bitches. Prison style.

    This picture is a few years old
    . Still worthy of a post tho.

    I guess Obama should just fund his drones off the balance sheet. The PPACA, too. Invade another country, kill a few thousand American soldiers, expand the DHS even larger, inflate the deficit, debt. Maybe let a major terrorist attack happen on American soil.
    Then, maybe, the GOP will be happy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. Jusinian says:

    @anjin-san:

    In reply to anjin-san:

    Tell me something, were the founding fathers deadbeats? You know, like the Republicans in the house who don’t want to pay for spending they approved. Was that what the founders intended?

    1. Let me answer your questions on the basis of its underlying assumptions and then argue about its assumptions.

    What is this spending that the House approved? Apparently it is about the debt ceiling debate, but the entire federal budget is up in the air now. But you are trying to argue that House members are somehow morally obligated to spend money they otherwise do not want to. This is not true.

    In the law of the state where I live, and probably many others (perhaps it is even common law, for all I know), a transaction does not happen until money changes hands. If I go to a store, express admiration for an item, tell the owner how much I’d like to buy the item, and then don’t fork over the money, the item is not bought, and furthermore I am not obligated to buy the item. No money changed hands, and so no transaction took place. The shop owner is annoyed, perhaps even mad as hell if I tied up a bunch of his time, but no more.

    The House of Representatives is not contractually obligated to spend money on anything. Congress is a legislatrure and makes law. As the Constitution puts it, no federal public money may be spent except as authorized by Congress by law. If Congress does not appropriate the money, the money cannot be spent. If Congress does not appropriate the money, then the whole thing is “no deal.”

    Sorry, but that it the Constitutional order on the matter—for what it is worth nowadays.

    2. Now, about your underlying assumptions. You speak of “House Republicans.” Right there, you are talking (a) in terms of party politics, and (b) in terms of individual persons, not institutions. My original post was (a) in terms of the separation of powers, not the separation of parties, and (b) concerning the institutional dysfunction of the House and of federal government in general. Also, it is public not house members’ money under discussion here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  58. Tony W says:

    @Jusinian: (or Justinian, or Jenos Idiot #13, or Indiana Jones, or whatever name you are using today)….

    It’s pretty simple, the House and Senate appropriated the money. Now Republicans in the House don’t want to pay the bill because they have decided they spent too much money. A good comparison here is to imagine a company issuing a purchase order then refusing to pay the bill when it comes due.

    Instead of having the integrity needed to sit down and have an honest discussion to resolve a problem with budget priorities, they kicked the can down the road to what we see today. Instead of cutting defense programs the military does not even want, the sequester simply lops money off the top of many programs across the board. This plan was designed to be a blunt instrument so painful that nobody would let it happen – although the speaker seems to feel he negotiated well.

    It is really hard to decide what to cut, there are many conflicting priorities that are difficult to balance. That’s why legislators are paid so well and have to fight so hard for their position (even where gerrymandering rules). Now we just need them to do their job.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  59. Barry says:

    Doug, please stop lying. The GOP has made it clear that they have no problem trashing the country if they don’t get their way. ‘Both sides do it’ is a lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  60. anjin-san says:

    @Jusinian

    But you are trying to argue that House members are somehow morally obligated to spend money they otherwise do not want to. This is not true.

    No, I was saying they need to actually pay the bills they have already racked up. Sorry if this rather simple concept is over your head.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  61. Justinian says:

    @anjin-san:

    In reply to anjin-san’s post, immediately above:

    The Constitution states, (Article I, Section 9), and I block-quote:

    No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law

    How are there “bills” that are “already racked up” except by clear violation of this provision? Yes, there are sixteen million million dollars of debt, whose interest is also a huge chunk of change. But up in the air is everything.

    If the federal government has been “racking up bills” that are not authorized by appropriations, then we are completely off the Constitutional track, and are living in a world where, as Mao Zedong put it, all power comes from the muzzle of a gun—a world where the Constitutional order is absolutely and completely, wholly and categorically, shot.

    P.S. to all: Sorry for misspelling my own name earlier. It is still me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  62. David M says:

    @Justinian:

    anjin-san is referring to raising the debt ceiling where spending has already been authorized by Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  63. anjin-san says:

    @ David M

    Perhaps your clarification will help Justinian. I am not sure if he is being willfully stupid, or is just plain stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  64. Justinian says:

    @anjin-san:

    In reply to anjin-san, who wrote:

    Perhaps your clarification will help Justinian. I am not sure if he is being willfully stupid, or is just plain stupid.

    In the article that headed this discussion, written by Doug Mataconis, he wrote:

    In reality we’re talking about $85 billion in cuts out of a budget of more than $3 trillion, a mere 2.9% of the total Federal Budget.

    Provided that Mr. Mataconis is right, then that is the issue at hand. I am sure that none of the $85 billion in cuts are to interest payments servicing the debt. Yet there are those who would say that the House is morally obligated this way or that on the spending (or, cuts to spending), by calling them “deadbeats” if they do not capitulate to the President.

    Again, not any of the $85 billion at issue is of “bills already racked up,” or, if they are, then we are truly completely off the Constitutional track.

    Yes, anjin-san is correct to call me stupid: what a fool I was to think that his comments were about the subject of this discussion, and how much in the future I will need to be more intelligent in recognizing his remarks as being completely off-topic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  65. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Justinian:

    Dude, you’re strolling in here with a $50 suit that has a $h!t stain on it. A true Constitutionalist would be opining about how a “debt celing” is even Constitutional. The money has already been appropriated by Congress. The goods and services purchased have already been consumed. What you are advocating is the Federal Gov’t STEAL products and services from its citizens by consuming and not compensating. The Republican party threatened theft of labor from Americans in exchange for across the board spending cuts in future spending–cuts that will take place on March 1. You are mixing and matching two separate issues and using constitutional gobble-de-gook to make it sound like you know what you are taking about. Now go get read up, clean that $h!t stain off, and come back with a substantive point of view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  66. Pharoah Narim says:

    What I honest to goodness see is a “good cop-bad cop” routine by both parties that gives them plausible deniability with their bases. No, I can’t prove it. Its just a feeling I have as this whole thing is two ridiculous to even be believable. The only thing I can chalk it up to is that it must be deliberate. Sequestration was always going to happen–both sides are getting cuts out of each other’s sacred cow. And the plutocrats that fund both of them get a reduced middle class and less of a chance of default on the interest payments they get off the money “loaned” to the federal gov’t.

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  67. anjin-san says:

    Provided that Mr. Mataconis is right, then that is the issue at hand.

    So do you have an official thread monitor secret decoder ring?

    Yes, some of us wander a mite off topic. Being a Democrat is a little more complicated than being a Republican, where all you really need to know is “Constitution, blah, blah. Deficit, blah, blah. Bengazi, blah, blah. Galt’s gulch, blah, blah.”

    So you be sure not to say anything Doug would not approve of. In most cases “both sides do it” will have you covered…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  68. David M says:

    @Justinian:

    Yes, anjin-san is correct to call me stupid: what a fool I was to think that his comments were about the subject of this discussion, and how much in the future I will need to be more intelligent in recognizing his remarks as being completely off-topic.

    Given that you were advocating turning most (all?) of the spending authority over to the House, it’s not off topic to point out that the House majority is compromised mostly of cranks not remotely up to doing their job now, let alone what you’re advocating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0