little green footballs

Eric Cantor's Disingenuous Sequester Talk

Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 9:53:40 am

Eric Cantor has repeatedly offered tweets and statements that the House GOP has offered up an alternative to the sequester and that all the nation has to do is get the President and the Senate to consider the House passed bill:

This is one of his recent tweets on the matter:

It has been 288 days since the House first passed a bill to replace the #sequester. It's time for the Senate to do the same.

— Eric Cantor (@GOPLeader) February 22, 2013

There's just a slight problem with his statement.

It's completely bogus.

As anyone who remembers the hypocrisy spewing forth from GOPers over disaster aid and ultimately the failure of Congress to timely pass Sandy disaster aid, we know that once the lame duck session of the 112th Congress ended after 2012, all bills that had not yet passed died and that the 113th Congress would have to start the process anew.

In other words, it doesn't matter that the House passed a version of a sequester bill 288 days ago. Congress did pass a sequester extender in January because the House and Senate couldn't agree on the terms of a permanent deal to avoid the sequester cuts it imposed on itself through earlier legislative action.

And the House bills that Cantor repeatedly refers to would have been a sequester bill that offset some of the cuts by completely defunding the PPACA - that's the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Cantor and the GOP knows [and knew] that there was no way that the President and the Senate would ever pass defunding legislation at any point - primarily because the President won reelection and the House Democrats picked up seats in 2012.

The American people understand the situation more clearly than Cantor does.

Cantor has repeatedly made the bet that the President and Democrats would blink first and that brinksmanship would favor the GOP (and that's after saying repeatedly that the GOP shouldn't engage in brinksmanship through 2011). He has been wrong at every step of the way. At a time when the sequester and fiscal cliff could have been avoided last year, Cantor warned Boehner off of cutting a deal. That was a stupendous mistake on his part, and instead we're running up against a sequester deadline that could have been avoided.

While the GOP would love to have people blame the President for the sequester, the blame actually falls on Cantor and the House GOP caucus. Their ongoing intransigence is going to have significant effects on the American economy. The effects wont be felt right away and it will depend on the federal agency or Department.

Federal agencies and Departments have leeway and discretion on how to address the coming sequester. Some may opt to push the cuts to the forefront by choosing policies that show just how important those agencies/departments/programs are.

Some agencies, like the NPS have indicated that they’re going to be forced to keep some areas of major national parks shuttered (not plowing open areas or opening campgrounds because they wont have staff to do the work - much of which is a seasonal variation).

Others, like the FAA will shift personnel and furlough those who aren’t in mission critical positions to keep the control towers and inspectors on the job.

Still others will reduce personnel available to keep overall agency/mission/program operating.

Some will reduce personnel because they have no other choice - like say PTO office staff to handle filings.

Others will attempt to continue with current staffing levels, but would face hard choices as sequester drags on, drastically reducing staffing or programs later.

The GOP is attempting to capitalize on the different approaches by different agencies as proof that this isn’t as bad as the WH is saying it would be, or that the cuts aren’t that bad, but any problems are Obama’s fault.

All the while, many within the GOP are actually happy about the cuts, since it achieves a long sought goal of curbing and reducing the size of government. Their intention is to further starve discretionary spending and programs like Medicare/Medicaid/Social Security, while protecting programs in the Defense budget.

UPDATE:
Cantor's at it again today:

It has been 294 days since the House first passed a bill to replace the sequester.

— Eric Cantor (@GOPLeader) February 28, 2013