Sequester Tango: Boehner Dog-Whistling His Donors

Digby

Washington Examiner columnist Byron York is worried that the Republicans aren’t as serious about allowing the sequester to happen as he’d like them to be:

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? Boehner and the GOP are determined to allow the $1.2 trillion sequester go into effect unless President Obama and Democrats agree to replacement cuts, of an equal amount, that target entitlement spending. If that doesn’t happen — and it seems entirely unlikely — the sequester goes into effect, with the GOP’s blessing.

In addition, Boehner calls the cuts “deep,” when most conservatives emphasize that for the next year they amount to about $85 billion out of a $3,600 billion budget. Which leads to another question: Why would Boehner adopt the Democratic description of the cuts as “deep” when they would touch such a relatively small part of federal spending?

The reason is, of course, that Boehner remembers what happened in 1995 when the Republicans acted like asses as shut down the government. And he also knows that his defense contractor owners will be very upset if these cuts blow up their gravy train, even for a short time. They pay these guys to keep those tax dollars flowing. Even as he threatens to do it, Boehner needs to be on the record bemoaning that consequence or somebody is likely to blame him for it.

Wednesday morning, when Boehner’s op-ed appeared, I sent questions along these lines to Boehner’s office. Spokesman Michael Steel replied, “We support replacing the indiscriminate cuts in the sequester with smarter cuts and reforms (of an equal amount). That’s what we did with the sequester replacement bills written by Chairman Ryan that we passed last year.” Another spokesman, Brendan Buck, added that “it is not the amount of the cuts…it’s where they fall — disproportionately on accounts important to our national security.

And don’t worry, there are plenty of Democrats who are scared to death that the Military Industrial Complex is going to be adversely affected as well. Perhaps we’re going to have some drama for a while, but the Village consensus that these cuts are going to go through in their entirety and the world is coming to an end still seems a bit hysterical to me.

All John Boehner has to do is ignore the Hastert Rule and pass a replacement with Democratic votes. He could lose his speakership, true.  But there are many grateful millionaires out there who will make it very worth his while. The Tea Partiers may not know on which side their bread is buttered, but he certainly does.

But you can’t blame him for holding out until the bitter end. It’s worked out very well for the GOP so far to have the White House and the Democrats panic and start offering up concessions by the barrel-full before they reach a deal:

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