The Washington Post has Debt-Ceiling Amnesia
I have a problem that I hope some you can help me with. I read an editorial in the Washington Post this morning about the upcoming budget sequester, which the editors appear to be very concerned about. Evidently, the editors think Obama should “lead” on this budget sequester thing of which they are very concerned, by cutting entitlements. Or something.
The editorial contains some very DC boilerplate “both sides are at fault” material, but specifically the editors claim that the sequester is or was “Obama’s idea” and that it is up to the president to “lead” his racalcitrant party in cutting entitlement spending, which the editors at the Washington Post have long been very concerned about.
The funny thing is, I searched through this editorial carefully for some mention of how we got to this sequester point in the first place. You know, the Tea Party Republican debt-ceiling hostage fight of 2011. As we remember, after the Tea Party elections of 2010, the new Republican leadership in the House threated to make the government default on its debts if the president did not agree to deep, long term spending cuts. The debt ceiling was ultimately raised, and the default was prevented, by an agreement between the president and congress that first called for a congressional bipartisan Super Committee to come to an agreement on a mix of cuts and tax increases to Fix The Debt. The second part of the agreement was that if said Super Committee failed to agree on a deficit cutting package, then the deficit target would be met through budget cuts implemented across the board, including to defense spending. These automatic cuts are what we know today as the sequester.
Now, surely if we are going to talk about the implications for the country of the looming budget sequester cuts, scheduled to begin Friday, March 1, we should probably have before us the information about how the sequester came to be, if we are to discuss options to alleviate it.
But try as I may, I am unable to locate in the Post editorial any mention of the 2011 debt ceiling hostage-taking fight that precipitated the need for the sequester scheduled to begin Friday, which the Post editors say they are very concerned about.
Perhaps some of you with better vision or more caffeine this morning can find it for me. Here the editorial’s opening graphs. Follow the link for the whole thing.
This week Washington is having a stupid fight over a stupid budget issue. The so-called sequestration of $85 billion in federal spending would weaken the economy just as an increase in the payroll tax appears to be giving consumers pause. It would force the government to make mindless cuts across the board, instead of allowing reasoned choices. According to Mr. Obama’s senior military advisers, it would endanger national security. Yet nobody seems inclined to prevent it.
In the petty arguments over this self-inflicted wound, there are merits, or demerits, on both sides. The Republicans are right when they say that the sequester was Mr. Obama’s idea, in the summer of 2011, and that he agreed to a deal that was all spending cuts, no tax hikes. He is correct that he hoped the sequester would never go into effect but would be replaced by a 10-year bargain that would raise revenue and slow the growth of entitlement costs. He is correct, too, on the larger point: Such a deal is what’s needed, and the Republicans are wrong to resist further revenue hikes.