A No-Brain Victory for GOP: Keep $1.2 Trillion “Sequester” Cuts on March 1st

After getting badly beat by Barack Obama in the first two major battles of 2013  --  passage of Obama’s $620 billion tax increase and his $60 billion “disaster relief” bill  --  the Republicans will gain a huge victory if they can muster up courage for the next battle coming to a head on March 1st.  

The Republicans in Congress will not even have to pass any legislation to gain a victory on March 1st.  That is because what Obama, and his fellow Democrats in Congress, thought was a clever little trap for Republicans  --  automatic cuts amounting to $1.2 trillion (half in defense spending cuts and half in domestic spending cuts spread over a 10 year period  --  will back-fire on Obama and Democrats if the Republicans allow the “sequester” cuts (which will also reduce the nearly $17 trillion federal debt by $1.2 trillion; no small feat) to become reality on March 1st.

The package of $1.2 trillion in “sequestration” cuts was part of the Budget Control Act passed by Congress in 2011 and the cuts were to begin on January 1st,  but Congress put off the spending cuts until March 1st hoping to come up with an alternative to these “draconian” cuts.  The cuts in the defense budget were designed to not affect spending on the war in Afghanistan and the domestic cuts exempt most entitlement spending such as Social Security and Medicaid.  Compared to America’s $17 trillion federal debt  --  which will have grown some $10 trillion during Obama’s 8 years in office  --  the $109 billion “sequestration” cut for 2013 is miniscule.

The Budget Control Act established that the $1.2 trillion in “sequester” cuts would take effect on January 1st if Obama’s super budget commission did not agree to at least a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package by November 23, 2011.  And of course  --  this being Washington D.C.  --   the bipartisan commission did indeed fail to reach a deal and the “sequester” was “triggered.” 

Ever since that November 2011 deadline passed, the big-spending Democrats have been moaning and groaning about the automatic $600 billion in cuts to domestic spending.  On the other hand, some Republicans  --  and defense contractors  --   have been moaning and groaning over the $600 billion in defense cuts now scheduled to begin on March 1st.  However, since the cuts will be spread out over the next 9 years, only $55 billion in domestic cuts and another $55 billion or so in defense cuts will take place at the end of this month. 

Charles Krauthammer, a columnist for “The Washington Post,” on Fox News “Special Report” last night, said that the Republicans should do absolutely nothing and pocket the $1.2 trillion in budget cuts.  Krauthammer said:  “I think the Republicans will do what (House Majority Leader Eric) Cantor is suggesting, which is to do nothing. This is the one time since election day where Obama does not have the upper hand. He had it in the fiscal cliff negotiations because you would have had automatic hikes in taxes, which is what Republicans did not want. So they had no good options. This time, the shoe is on the other foot. This time if the Republicans do nothing, then you will get these severe cuts, $1.2 trillion, half in domestic, half in defense spending. Obama is the one who suggested it in the negotiations on the debt ceiling in 2011, but now he doesn't want them at all. The reason is he doesn't want any of these domestic cuts.

“He's not somebody who wants any cuts anywhere, anytime and this will be forced on him, and on the Pentagon cuts, which he would have thought the Republicans would do anything to avoid. He's the commander-in-chief. He has to worry about what's going to happen with the forces, his own Secretary of Defense has said it will hollow out the forces and it will cost a lot of jobs of contractors, a lot of whom live in a state he wants, Virginia.  He has to do something about this and it is unbelievable that he would have offered the Republicans a deal in which there are extra tax increases as a part of the deal. Republicans will do nothing and they should do nothing and demand if the president wants to avoid this, you do the cuts but do them somewhere else but no tax increases.”

The president is absolutely desperate to not allow the $600 billion in domestic spending cuts to occur on March 1st.  On the other hand, fiscal conservatives in the Republican party  --   which include a lot of Republicans during these days of annual $1 trillion deficits and a national debt of $17 trillion  --  led by conservative heroes, Senators Tom Coburn, R-OK and Rand Paul, R-KY, would like to see several trillion dollars of spending cuts, including up to $1 trillion in cuts in the defense budget. 

The question now is, will the Republicans in Congress snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?  For the sake of the future of the Republican Party, congressional Republicans better not blink this time in their battle against the president.  As British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher told Republican president, George H. W. Bush, before the Gulf War:  “Don’t go all wobbly on me now George.”  Republicans in Congress:  don’t go all wobbly on the American people!