The GOP’s “Sequester Cheerleaders” Greatest Hits … So Far

Terrance Heath

Gimme an “S”! Gimme an “E”! Gimme a “Q”! Gimme a “U”!  Gimme an “E,S, T, E, R”! What’s that spell? That depends. If you’re almost everyone else, the sequester spells an onslaught of unnecessary, painful, and “just plain dumb” spending cuts. If you’re one of the GOP’s “Sequester Cheerleaders,” it spells sweet, sweet, victory. 

The GOP’s pro-sequester cheering section is considerable and growing. One of the latest Republicans publicly declare his membership is tea partier Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R, Kan.).

Tea Party Republicans are crowing about the harsh and indiscriminate “sequestration” cuts beginning Friday. “This will be the first significant tea party victory in that we got what we set out to do in changing Washington,” says Rep. Tim Huelskamp (Kan.), a Tea Partier who was first elected in 2010.

Now we know, Huelskamp is far from the only one. A disturbing number of GOP representatives have publicly cheered for the sequester’s spending cuts. Here’s just a few:

[T]here are way more Republicans than just Paul Ryan cheering it on. They can’t wait for sequester! They want it so badly they can taste it. They don’t care that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office warn it could push our economy back into recession.

Here’s a round up of quotes from the DCCC, which will give you a good sense of the real reason Speaker John Boehner is not proposing a sequester replacement bill (hint: he doesn’t have the votes):

Republican Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA). “I want to see it go into place.” [Cherokee Tribune, 2/9]

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO). “I don’t think going over the fiscal cliff would have been a huge deal” [kdvr.com, 1/02/13]

… Republican Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R-TN). “Sequestration needs to happen…Bottom line, it needs to happen and that’s the deal we struck to raise the debt limit.” [Cleveland Daily Banner, 2/1]

Republican Congressman John Fleming (R-LA). “The sequester is law. Those cuts happen no matter what. We’re willing to hang in there and insist that those cuts go into place…” [NHPR, 1/30/13]

Republican Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY. “Sequestration will take place…I am excited. It will be the first time since I’ve been in Congress that we really have significant cuts.” [Billings Gazette, 2/11]

… Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC). “We want to keep the sequester in place and take the cuts we can get.” [Dow Jones Business News, 2/8]

Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS). “It’s going to be a homerun…I am very optimistic that on March 2nd, we’ll all wake up and America will have tremendous respect for what its House of Representatives led and what it’s federal government was able to accomplish.” [Politico, 2/13]

Outside of Congress, conservative organizations like Americans For Prosperity have three words for the sequester’s deep cuts: “Bring it on.”

Mark Lucas wouldn’t mind seeing America’s defense budget cut by billions.

“There’s quite a bit of waste within the military,” Lucas, who serves as Iowa state director for the conservative group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), told ABC News. “Being in there for 10 years, I’ve seen quite a bit of it.”

 … Lucas cited duplicative equipment purchases, military-run golf courses and lavish food on larger bases — unlike the chow he endured at a combat operations post in Afghanistan with about 120 other soldiers.

“These guys would have very good food, and I’m talking almost like a buffet style, shrimp and steak once a week, ice cream, all this stuff,” Lucas said. “They had Burger Kings and Pizza Huts and McDonald’s. And I said to myself, ‘Do we really need this?’”

As I pointed out in a post last week, the sequester’s brutal, automatic, across-the-board cuts were never supposed to take effect. No, they were designed to be so damaging and stupid that both parties would be forced to come up with a compromise on spending cuts and revenue. Letting such draconian, damaging cuts take effect was supposed to be the last thing any member of Congress wanted to happen. 

It’ turns out that Republicans see the sequester as an opportunity to inflict painful cuts that Americans don’t want and didn’t vote for, and the GOP’s ultra-conservatives want it to happen because they believe it’s the right thing to do.  

[P]ointing out Republican-caused harms to millions of people — many of them Republicans — does not sway the ultra-right. Why? Democratic pundits say that Republicans want to hurt the president, to show government doesn’t work by making it not work, and to protect “special interests” from higher taxes. All true. But there is an additional and deeper reason. Ultra-conservatives believe that the sequester is moral, that it is the right thing to do.

Progressives tend to believe that democracy is based on citizens caring for their fellow citizens through what the government provides for all citizens — public infrastructure, public safety, public education, public health, publicly-sponsored research, public forms of recreation and culture, publicly-guaranteed safety nets for those who need them, and so on. In short, progressives believe that the private depends on the public, that without those public provisions Americans cannot be free to live reasonable lives and to thrive in private business. They believe that those who make more from public provisions should pay more to maintain them.

Ultra-conservatives don’t believe this. They believe that Democracy gives them the liberty to seek their own self-interests by exercising personal responsibility, without having responsibility for anyone else or anyone else having responsibility for them. They take this as a matter of morality. They see the social responsibility to provide for the common good as an immoral imposition on their liberty.

Their moral sense requires that they do all they can to make the government fail in providing for the common good. Their idea of liberty is maximal personal responsibility, which they see as maximal privatization — and profitization — of all that we do for each other together, jointly as a unified nation.

They also believe that if people are hurt by government failure, it is their own fault for being “on the take” instead of providing for themselves. People who depend on public provisions should suffer. They should have rely on themselves alone — learn personal responsibility, just as Romney said in his 47 percent speech. In the long run, they believe, the country will be better off if everyone has to depend on personal responsibility alone. Sequestration offers Republicans to potentially irresistible opportunities: the chance to bring President Obama down a peg or two, as well as a shot at implementing spending cuts that the majority of Americans have repeatedly rejecting at the polls. The consequences of those spending cuts doesn’t bother tea party conservatives in the least.

They’ve a lot of spirit and some really big megaphones. So, the GOP’s “Sequester Cheerleaders” will probably rack of even more stunners as this manufactured crisis drags on. We might as well keep track of them, so as to remind Americans who wanted the sequester — and its attendant economic pain and suffering — to happen.

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