Sequester “threatens national security,” then why is Boehner threatening to use it?

Boehner takes America hostage over the sequester

There were some cracks in the conservative armor the past few days over the issue of the looming sequester – aka, across the board budget cuts to defense spending and domestic spending to take place on March 1 if a new budget-cutting deal isn’t reached.

In a nutshell: The Republican party has adopted two major talking points about the sequester.

1) The sequester was President Obama’s idea (which is a lie).

2) If the sequester happens, we’re all going to die.

We now know that talking point 1 above is a lie – in fact, it was John Boehner who proposed the sequester back in 2011, and we have Boehner’s own documents to prove it.

As for talking point 2, there’s actually a third GOP talking point that Boehner is also employing, and that, along with talking point 2, are getting him and the GOP into a lot of trouble.

3) The GOP will let the sequester happen if the Democrats don’t agree to huge cuts in Medicare and Social Security.

So, John Boehner thinks the sequester will destroy our country, and John Boehner is threatening to let the sequester destroy our country if he doesn’t get his way.

John Boehner just admitted that the key Democratic talking point on this issue, that the Republican party is holding Americans hostage to the GOP’s far-right Tea Party extremism, is correct.

GOP increasingly concerned over Boehner sequester hostage-taking

The devastating contradiction wasn’t lost on GOP analyst Byron York:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner describes the upcoming sequester as a policy “that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.”

Hostage, terrorist, prisoner, sequester, sequestration, budget

Terrorist via Shutterstock

Which leads to the question: Why would Republicans support a measure that threatens national security and thousands of jobs?  Boehner and the GOP are determined to allow the $1.2 trillion sequester go into effect unless President Obama and Democrats agree to replacement cuts, of an equal amount, that target entitlement spending. If that doesn’t happen — and it seems entirely unlikely — the sequester goes into effect, with the GOP’s blessing….

The effect of Boehner’s argument is to make Obama seem reasonable in comparison. After all, the president certainly agrees with Boehner that the sequester cuts threaten national security and jobs.  The difference is that Obama wants to avoid them.

Bill Kristol, another hugely influential conservative GOP talking head, argues that the Republican party isn’t putting national defense or national interest first.

It’s understandable that Republicans are tempted by the prospect of allowing the “sequester”—the automatic cut to defense and domestic discretionary spending agreed to as an enforcement mechanism for the 2011 debt ceiling deal—to go into effect on March 1. It’s understandable because Republicans are in favor of cutting domestic spending. It’s understandable because Republicans are desperate to secure what they think could be a political victory over Barack Obama and Harry Reid. It’s understandable because going to the trouble of fixing the sequester would be difficult, and the effort to do so will create strains within the Republican conference.

But what’s understandable isn’t always responsible. Allowing the sequester to go into effect would be deeply irresponsible.

It’s true that the sequester will cut domestic discretionary spending. On the other hand, it will do so ham-handedly, with no reforms to domestic programs, and with the big-ticket entitlements untouched. Far more important, the sequester will endanger national security—cutting the military abruptly and arbitrarily to levels far below what Republicans have ever thought desirable….

Meanwhile, there’s the small matter of defense and the national interest. The sequester would do real damage to both. So Republicans should resist seduction by the sequester, overcome the temptation of embracing it, and should instead take the lead in fixing it….

A great political party, on matters of great moment, puts national defense, and the national interest, first.

GOP has been a fan of taking America hostage for years

The Republican party has been a fan of taking America hostage for years now. Certainly, they’ve done it repeatedly in the budget talks, particularly with their threat to let the US default on its debt.  But the Republicans have held other things hostage as well, in order to get their way.  The GOP has held consumer protection hostage.  They held the stimulus hostage, even though it threatened to send the country into another Great Depression.  The Republicans even threatened to shut down the entire government over Obamacare.

What’s perhaps most disturbing is the GOP willingness to hold our national defense hostage to their petty whims.  Remember the time the Republican Senate held the US Air Force hostage?  And we know Mitt Romney is a big fan of using hostage crises for political gain.  And the US currently doesn’t have a CIA director because Lindsey Graham is using the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi to run for re-election (Graham has been fundraising off the Benghazi deaths for a while now), and because John McCain is still upset that he lost the presidential election in 2008 to Barack Obama.

Graham and McCain are also holding up the President’s nominee for Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, because  Hagel thinks the pro-Israel lobby is a tad too powerful in Washington, and it is, along with a number of other lobbies, like the NRA, Big Pharma and Wall Street.

Holding America hostage is nothing new for Republicans.  The GOP sees our national security and economic survival as one big human shield to get what they want, or else.  This is what happens when extremist take over one of the only two political parties you have in a country.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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