"Shared sacrifice", GOP style
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, has drafted a bill that would replace the military reductions that would occur under a process known in Congress as sequestration with 5 percent cuts to other, unspecified parts of the federal budget, and a 10 percent decrease in pay for members of Congress. In the House, similar measures are being assembled.
"If the joint select committee does not do what it needs to do," said Representative K. Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, "most of us will move heaven and earth to find an alternative that prevents a sequester from happening."
How rude to talk about cuts to the military! We've got to attack Iran, people! Think of the boost to the economy that will be! Those are almost-sort-of jobs for disadvantaged youths who will be trained in - well, there's not a lot of skills in the military that can be carried over into civilian life, but they'll learn how to obey orders and that'll do 'em just fine in any job they do manage to find. And how are we supposed to splash liberation right around the world unless we have the guns & bombs to do it?
Some Democrats are increasingly concerned that some Republicans on the committee, in declaring that they will not be able to accept new revenues toward deficit reduction, are calculating that they will be able to reverse the triggered cuts.
"New revenues" meaning taxes, which are so anathema to Republicans that they reject spending on teachers and police and infrastructure rather than vote for pitifully small increases on taxes for the wealthy. Presumably if we think we really need bridges and first responders, we can go humbly, hat in hand, to the 1% and ask them nicely to buy them for us for Christmas.
Republicans have expressed more alarm about possible across-the-board cuts in Pentagon spending than Democrats have voiced about cuts in domestic programs that would also occur. Many safety-net programs for low-income people, like Medicaid and food stamps, would be exempt from automatic cuts. And Medicare payments to health care providers could not be reduced by more than 2 percent.
Priorities. Plus, if they can pass legislation to immunize the Pentagon from the cuts, what really would prevent the GOP from writing similar legislation to include Medicaid in the "other, unspecified parts of the federal budget"? (And don't think I'm not disappointed in the Dems for not pushing as hard to keep social programs from being cut. WTF are you people thinking?)
And from the "goddamnit, we're Republicans, and we always get our way" department, there's this gem:
Some Democrats had expected the threat of automatic cuts in military spending to be the leverage to force Republicans to consider tax increases. Republicans said Democrats should not count on that. "If Democratic members of the committee think that Republicans just cannot resist calls or demands for a big tax increase because of the sense of unacceptable cuts, I think they would be wrong in that," said Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama.
Sen. Sessions then said "HO HO HO! TEEN-EE JE-DAI! BOSKA!" and hit a button that dumped Senate Democrats into the Sarlacc pit.
No, not really. But I wouldn't put it past him.