The Asymetrical Sequester

The sequester gives Republicans cuts in government spending while protecting the wealthiest Americans from paying higher taxes. It’s a fallacy that it provides equal satisfaction to Democrats in the form of military cuts. Although many Democrats rightfully support elimination of pork barrel military contracts for equipment that doesn’t work and that the pentagon doesn’t want, for political reasons Democrats can’t boast about cutting military spending as triumphantly as Republicans can about cutting off medical care and education for poor children. Democrats really don’t want to gut the military. Republicans really do want to gut services that help the poor and middle class. The imbalance is exacerbated by the bizarre fact that Republicans never pay a political price for voting against the military, and also by the freedom the media seems to feel to blame Obama, rather than congressional Republicans, for everything the Republicans do to the economy.

The cuts to programs like head-start and meals on wheels are part of the sequester because that’s what Republicans were demanding. The military cuts are part of the sequester because they were, in theory, so unpalatable to Republicans that they would be forced to negotiate. Apparently, closing the wealth gap is more unpalatable.

Both Republicans and Democrats have the option of caving to the other’s demands in order to protect the military. But if Republicans cave, it will mean higher taxes on the wealthy. If Democrats cave, it will mean gutting programs that Americans depend upon, and allowing Republicans to get what they want by threatening to destroy our economy. It is due to that threat that the sequester deal was suggested in the first place.

In the Washington Post, Thomas Mann notes something else that the Republicans get:

The insistence on deep discretionary-spending reductions while calling for even deeper tax cuts shows that the sequester is not about money but about taking a meat ax to government as we know it … Planning, recruiting personnel and drafting long-term contracts have become impossible in areas from cybersecurity to embassy security to medical research to homeland security, damaging not industries rife with waste, fraud and abuse but critical services.

The very rich have always faired well through tough economic times, which might explain the willingness of the Republican party to sacrifice the economy to get what they want. And they never cared about the troops the way they claim to. But their willingness to sacrifice our safety to prevent the wealth of the wealthy from being used for food, health, and education is surprising.

Depression era photo of poeple on food line in front of billboard about America's high standard of living.

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