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House Speaker John Boehner makes a brief statement to the media at the Capitol in Washington December 19, 2012. Frustrated by their inability to wring more
The fact that federal spending cuts were the primary factor driving today's grim economic growth report makes it clear that moving forward with the sequester's draconian spending cuts would be a complete disaster. This is not something that Republicans want to get blamed for, but unfortunately for House Speaker John Boehner, the only way he got House Republicans to agree to raise the debt limit was by promising to enforce the spending sequester. So now he's in a bit of a trap: He has to defend the sequester at the same time that he has to deny responsibility for it.

Here's how his office tried to accomplish that balancing act today:

"These arbitrary, automatic cuts were a creation and demand of the White House in 2011," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner in response to Carney's comments. "Twice the House has passed legislation to replace them with common sense cuts and reforms. If there was any uncertainty late last year about the sequester, it was because the Democratic-controlled Senate, per usual, never lifted a finger to pass a plan to replace it."
Actually, the truth is that the Senate has offered plenty of ways to achieve the same level of deficit reduction as the sequester—it's just that doing so would raise taxes, and Republicans refuse to do that. So it's not that the Senate hasn't lifted a finger, it's that House Republicans don't like the Senate's ideas.

Beyond that, however, there's no eternal rule that says the House couldn't just suspend the sequester indefinitely. The fact that they are insisting on equivalent cuts means that one way or another they are the ones insisting on the sequester.

Boehner's spokesman says the White House is the reason the sequester was created in the first place, back in 2011. But the truth is that Republicans were the ones pushing for the massive spending cuts—the president was trying to figure out how to keep the government running the face of GOP obstruction, and the sequester is what we ended up with.

That being said, what difference does it make who came up with the idea in 2011? It's 2013: What matters is what happens now. The GOP has within its power the ability to put aside the sequester—if it so chooses. If it doesn't, the most logical explanation is that John Boehner was telling the truth when he said this in August of 2011 after passing the debt ceiling deal that created the sequester in the first place:

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.
Republicans created our fiscal nightmare. They can still fix it, or at least get out of the way, but the clock is ticking.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:39 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Krugman was on Starting Point on CNN (12+ / 0-)

    yesterday or Monday (can't remember which) debating Marcia Blackburn on the deficit and the notion of draconian cuts - he did a very good job of explaining why the cuts will be damaging to the economy.  

    It was probably the most lucid explanation I've seen in a few short sentences about what threat the sequester cuts hold for the economy and why.

    Would have been even more interesting if that debate had taken place today after the news of the economic contraction.

    •  Mr. Krugman has been proven right time and again. (6+ / 0-)

       The time has come to utilize his sound advise, relegating the deficit worries to the back burner, as it's a long-range, not an immediate concern, and solve the problem in front of us.

         This is the time as the Teahadist reign of foolishness is over so we can now talk about immigration reform, common sense gun control, global climate change, etc.
          Common sense economics need to be back out in the open again as well.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:57:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The president should re-introduce (17+ / 0-)

    the American Jobs Act to promote much-needed growth in the economy and to help to bring down an unemployment rate which remains far too high.

       Let's start moving in the right direction. Increased growth and higher levels of employment will only serve to bring down the deficit which is a nice bonus to this strategy.
       It's smart politically as well, as it has popular support, and will produce positive results. Good policy has the added reward of being good politics generally speaking.

        And the GOP, already suffering from a lack of popularity will have to cave or fall even further behind.

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:14:40 PM PST

  •  keep the defense cuts (8+ / 0-)

    get rid of the discretionary spending cuts

  •  Ok. We need to push for a John Boehner challenger (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, LilithGardener

    STAT!  I don't care how red his district is!  Shake it up!

  •  Do ANY non-Teahadists (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, RichM, Egalitare

    believe this guy's bullshit!

  •  Word salad... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm confused - does the government create growth and employment or does it not?  Because from what I know of the GOP, it shouldn't matter if the cuts were 'arbitrary and automatic' - the government is evil and needs to be cut.  Period.

    'Guns don't kill people, video games do - paraphrased from Lamar Alexander (Sen-R-TN)'

    by RichM on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:36:51 PM PST

  •  Yeah, Fox News blamed the White House because... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elwior, bewareofme, RichM, AllanTBG

    I dunno, I guess because they already the screenshot of "GOP blames Obama & White House" so they just went with it.

    Follow me on Twitter! @guileofthegods

    by Guile Of The Gods on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:36:53 PM PST

  •  "the fact that" - great way to head off any (4+ / 0-)

    meaningful conversation.

    I remember in my college days 35-40 years ago, that people did a number of studies that established military spending as just about the worst possible way to stimulate the economy, far less effective than private sector spending.

    I wonder how much that has changed -- if at all.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:41:00 PM PST

    •  I imagine that that's still true, but (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tb mare, dinotrac

      the cuts will represent a contraction in the economy - it would be better if the funds were redirected into more stimulative areas - but given this House and the crazy GOPers - I'm pretty sure that would be too much to hope for at this juncture.

    •  I'm from a State (5+ / 0-)

      which is very dependent on military spending.  We could, however, use those billions of dollars for more enviro friendly spending connected with the military.  

      I'm in Connecticut and we have Electric Boat, a sub base, the Coast Guard Academy and United Technologies.  Why not use the already amazing environmental "friendly" technology developed by the Navy (hybrid ships) and the Army (personal solar packs) and pull in private funding.  

      Our sister State, MA, has been on a roll at MIT for all sorts of enviro "friendly" energy sources.  We could really create a corridor here which could reduce military spending and provide consumer products, much like the NASA programs.

      I put "friendly" in quotes because there's always a negative cost to the environment somewhere.

      " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

      by gchaucer2 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:59:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think some clever military spending could (0+ / 0-)

        stimulate a lot of goody sustainable private sector work.

        A couple of things really hold back private sector energy spending:

        1. Oil roller coasters like crazy.  One day it gets so high that people are looking for little cars, efficient appliances, and alternative sources.  Next day, it craters, and people forget.

        2.  There is a huge petroleum/coal/natural gas infrastructure.

        We don't want the military spending stupid dollars, but as the largest buyer of diesel/jet fuel, it seems like they could lay out some guaranteed purchase contracts -- ie, if this much is available at this price, we'll buy it, multiple birds would be goners on the back of one well-aimed stone.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:23:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Senate lifted a finger. The middle one. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tb mare, olo, wewantthetruth

    They were just countering the one Boehner was using in signaling his intent to the country.

  •  Jed - Defense cuts drop every 4th quarter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, Eric Nelson, Egalitare

    Blaming the GDP drop on defense cuts, is really very misleading.

    There were no defense cuts in fiscal 2012.  The spending, however, was imbalanced between 3rd and 4th quarter.

    The large rise in GDP in the 3rd quarter was due to spend it or lose it government rules, since the federal fiscal year ends Oct 1st.

    So, basically we robbed GDP from the 4th Qtr for the gains in the 3rd Qtr.  And it happens every year.

    Here's a better explanation:

    Why defense spending plunged 22% last quarter

       Defense spending often rises in the third quarter of a year and drops in the fourth quarter. Here’s a graph of the quarterly change in defense spending since 2010. Note the usual highs in September and lows in December of each year:
    Look to link for graph..
       There’s a reason for this. The fiscal year ends in September, and government agencies typically try to spend all the money Congress allotted them for that year by then — otherwise, they fear, they’ll get a smaller budget next time around.

        “In the Pentagon, you have to use it or lose it by the end of the fiscal year in September,” said Lawrence Korb, a former assistant secretary of defense now at the Center for American Progress, in a recent interview. “You see this a lot. ‘We’ve got to fly a lot this month for training, otherwise Congress will take back the money they gave us.’”

    •  Yes... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vcmvo2, wewantthetruth

      But that doesn't mean that the sequester cuts won't have the same chilling affect going forward.

      'Guns don't kill people, video games do - paraphrased from Lamar Alexander (Sen-R-TN)'

      by RichM on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:46:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe no - yes to the sequester cuts being (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eric Nelson

        harmful that you suggest - but no to the analysis presented above about Pentagon spending because it isn't in context of the contraction reported today - the analysis of what happened in the 4th Quarter seems to point the finger at an overall drop in government spending (unlike past years) and the manufactured crises like the fiscal cliff which affected spending by consumers and businesses - and also Super Storm Sandy - delayed relief funds probably hasn't helped there specifically - and that's an extremely important region in our economy.

        I've been waiting all day to see someone more qualified than me to highlight and analyze this data because it really seems to point the finger at the intractable House Republicans and their attempts to hurt Obama's economy - not caring that it is really ALL of our economy.

    •  This happens at every level of government (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferg, Egalitare

      I worked at several labs for counties and states. Every damn year they wasted money at the end of the year to ensure thier budget wasn't cut in the next budget. It seemed insane because why couldn't money be set aside to cover extraordinary odd year expenses and a cushion for low revenue years. If the excess persists for a longer period then budgets could be reduced to be used elsewhere. I never liked that every cent of revenuse had to be spent in a frenzy of test tubes, paper products, chemicals, or unneccessary equipment. Then when bad things happen to the economy the government organizations face huge shortfall because they were forced to waste revenue. I know this even happened when I was in the USAF labs... I always joked that that was why David Grant had such big basements... to store all the crap. I think that is why the military maintains huge warehouses of stuff that is falling apart.

      Fear is the Mind Killer...

      by boophus on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:57:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  unlike most places/people (0+ / 0-)

      wall street did not blink. rest of economic news was positive.

      mittens=edsel. no matter how much money is spent to promote it, if the product sucks, no one will buy it.

      by wewantthetruth on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:23:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  John of Orange just makes me laugh!! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    klamothe, vcmvo2, Fulgour

    He couldn't manage himself out of a paper bag.

    How many Obama traps has he been caught in over the last 2-3 years? It simply amazes me that he can still step up to the microphone and spin.

    I mean, seriously, any idiot can see he's lost a lot more than he's won. And, I don't think he understands the meaning of "happy." If he does, it never shows in public.

  •  Iwish Boner would shove 98% of his head up his ass (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bewareofme
  •  is there any hope for the Party of Stupid ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bewareofme

    Politically, certainly right after a lost election should be the time for the remaining non-stupid in the GOP to move the party back towards the Center, on sequestration, on immigration, gun control ...

  •  Today's Boehner contradicts the WSJ Boehner (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tekno2600, ferg, Eric Nelson

    In the first week of January, John Boehner did a Wall Street Journal interview where he all but dared the President to go through with the defense cuts in the sequester agreement.

    As Mr. Boehner tells the story: Mr. Obama was sure Republicans would call for ending the sequester - the other "cliff" - because it included deep defense cuts. But Republicans never raised the issue. "It wasn't until literally last week that the White House brought up replacing the sequester," Mr. Boehner says. "They said, 'We can't have the sequester.' They were always counting on us to bring this to the table."

    Mr. Boehner says he has significant Republican support, including GOP defense hawks, on his side for letting the sequester do its work. "I got that in my back pocket," the speaker says. He is counting on the president's liberal base putting pressure on him when cherished domestic programs face the sequester's sharp knife. Republican willingness to support the sequester, Mr. Boehner says, is "as much leverage as we're going to get."

    http://online.wsj.com/...

    The choice of our lifetime: Mitt Romney, It Takes A Pillage or President Barack Obama, Forward Together.

    by FiredUpInCA on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:48:30 PM PST

    •  Shhh...Boehner thought he flushed that down the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FiredUpInCA, Eric Nelson

      memory hole.

      Boehner has made many comments about how he is willing to go forward with the sequester. But, apparently, now, all must be forgotten. So, just wait for the bright flash to erase your memory and be happy.

      Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

      by tekno2600 on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:54:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't understand the confidence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RichM, Urban Owl

      that the sequester will be averted.

      For both sides in DC it's a pretty good deal.

      (Both sides in DC are more pro-austerity than most Kossak commenters.)

  •  Title misleading ? 98% applies to any subject. (0+ / 0-)

    Not just on sequester.

    I think that Republicanism is revealing itself as a personality disorder, not so much an ideology." -- Naomi Klein

    by AllanTBG on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:56:17 PM PST

  •  I miss having annual, official budgets (0+ / 0-)

    I'm still not sure why we haven't had one in 4 years.

    -7.13, -6.97 Facts matter. Vice President Joe Biden 10/11/12

    by klamothe on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 01:58:44 PM PST

  •  What does replacing cuts with cuts do? (0+ / 0-)

    Even if you said something like: Defense cuts are damaging to the economy, so let's cut the same amount out of other domestic spending instead..... well, how does that not damage the economy just as much?

    Or even more, as DOD spending is one of the least efficient use of tax (or borrowed) dollars around, almost up there with either burning it or giving it to rich people to play with.

    Cheers.

    Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

    by databob on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:08:38 PM PST

  •  Smile? (0+ / 0-)

    Does Boehner ever smile? Even when he gets 98% of what he wants?

    The first human being who insulted his enemy instead of throwing a rock at him was the founder of civilization. - Freud

    by Dhavo on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:14:47 PM PST

  •  Let the sequester take effect (0+ / 0-)

    Based upon an earlier diary linked below, it appears to me that Obama ought to call the bluff and force Boehner and the Repubs to crawl and beg to reduce the level of defense cuts or take responsibility for the carnage to those they are beholding to.  This gives Obama a ton of leverage to craft a deal that saves so called entitlements as well as minimize damage to nd discretionary spending for the price of cutting the bloat.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    •  this is all about wingers in congress (0+ / 0-)

      not wanting to cut defense spending at all as thir benefactors would suffer as would the wingers payoffs don't let anyone fool you.

      days of hostages being held are gone, O called their bluff. Don't believe any hype about dire consequences, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me or whatever Dumbya said.

      mittens=edsel. no matter how much money is spent to promote it, if the product sucks, no one will buy it.

      by wewantthetruth on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 05:27:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  team limbaugh were as much to blame as anyone (0+ / 0-)

    because they dedicated their shows to convincing the GOP radiobagger base it was no big deal to default - so they went there and sequestration was the result.

    unfortunately the dems don't really know to give limbaugh and sons the credit they deserve so we can keep going though teh same type thing again and they get to blame obama and the dems and half the country will believe them

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 02:46:29 PM PST

  •  Could we limp along the next 20 months... (0+ / 0-)

    ...or so with Boehner announcing every 3-4 months that the GOP Caucus decided that sequester requirement is "temporarily suspended?"

    Would the the TEA Caucus pretend it was a "unique and isolated incident" each and every time?

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 03:06:41 PM PST

  •  Just end the sequester... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fulgour

    It is incredibly stupid.

    No spending cuts, no tax increases.  Just cancel it, raise the debt ceiling, and argue over what next years budget should be.

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