Congressional Progressive Caucus: “Just cancel the sequester”

A small but increasing number of people have voiced the obvious solution to the “sequester” — the meat-axe budget cuts that Congress foisted on itself last year. As it stands, the sequester is supposed to kick in on March 1, this Friday. The result in DC is both consternation and quiet.

All you need to know — this is one more manufactured emergency. Who wanted it? By many accounts, Barack Obama himself. Read this good piece by Yves Smith and Bill Black at Naked Capitalism on that. I’ll have more about the Smith piece later; it deals with the causes of the present problem. Here I want to focus on the solution.

How to fix the sequester? Cancel it.

That’s right; Congress can just cancel the sequester. Anything Congress can do, Congress can undo. So Congress can undo the sequester. The latest to call for this solution is the Congressional Progressive Caucus (the CPC), which I’ve been writing about. From the office of the two leaders, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison:

If Congress cannot come up with a replacement to the sequester before the end of the week, we should eliminate the sequester entirely. One million working Americans should not be forced to pay the price for Republican stubbornness. If this goes into effect, it will be one of the most irresponsible legislative failures in the history of the Republic.

And they provide a stark look at what will happen if the sequester goes through as originally written:

The consequences of more massive budget cuts are real. Economic growth will slow, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost, and more people will have to rely on government assistance to meet their basic needs. In 2013 alone, seventy thousand children will be kicked off Head Start. More than one million kids will see their schools lose education funds. Emergency responders will lose their jobs, meaning slower response times and weaker disaster preparedness. Layoffs and furloughs for Social Security workers will cause delays and hassles for millions of seniors who depend on Social Security to put food on the table. Cuts to air traffic controllers and airport security agents will mean longer waits and travel disruptions.

Naturally, they place blame for the extended sequester fight on the Republicans (again, see Yves Smith, as noted above), and it’s true that the Republicans don’t give two figs for programs like Head Start (though for the leadership of either party to play chicken with these cuts is … well, unconscionable, within the full meaning of the word.)

Chris Hayes on Cancel the sequester

The CPC is not alone with this solution. Here’s MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on the subject (h/t digby):

See? Simple. All they have to do is show up for work. One sentence couldn’t be that hard. I offered two options here. I’m sure you can think of your own. (Atrios also agrees, in his atrionic fashion: “Just repeal it.”)

By the way, note the graph that Hayes showed. See what the sequester does to the deficit? Not much. What’d I tell you — a manipulated “crisis.” Both parties have their dabs on it. I hope you’re noticing how all of the spending cuts in the sequester, military and non-military, are being used to blackmail progressives and conservatives alike to buy a deal that … (wait for it) … reduces the social insurance programs.

My prediction, and a note to the CPC

If Obama and Boehner can blackmail their recalcitrants (that’s you, CPC, so far) into voting for cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, you’ll see a sequester “deal” vote that includes benefit cuts.

But if that blackmailing manufactured crisis can’t attract enough votes to make it worth proposing, the sequester will magically disappear. Hayes and the CPC will have gotten their wish. In a blink Congress will be asked to make the sequester go away, and they will.

My caution to the CPC — this is a strong statement, the one above, and a strong position. Congratulations, and thanks. But you may not get to vote on a cancellation. Obama may get the deal he wants, and you’ll be stuck with only two choices — Yes to Cuts or No to Cuts. If so, I suspect that any progressive who votes Yes to Cuts will have hell to pay.

2014 is not that far away, and the American people absolutely hate benefit cuts. Click here to see the data on that; it’s overwhelming. So consider this advice a service — that vote on cuts, if it comes up, will be a land mine of epic proportions. No one wants any of you to step on it.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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21 Responses to “Congressional Progressive Caucus: “Just cancel the sequester””

  1. Mass Progressive says:

    I didn’t vote for him again. He’s a disgrace. I won’t vote for most Dems anymore, just Liz Warren last time. I’ll only vote for OCCUPY! now.

  2. Jean-Paul Bondy says:

    How is the US economy in any way anything like Greece? Sheesh. Some zombies won’t die.

  3. Marcus says:

    Is it too conspiratorial to suggest that perhaps the GOP want the sequester to hit? Just like they refused to pass stimulus and jobs packages in the last congress and then hammered Obama and Democrats on the state of unemployment and stagnant economic growth? And they do this by hiding behind a largely unreal ideology?

  4. condew says:

    I will not turn out to vote for a Democrat who supports cuts to Social Security or Medicare. Yes Steny Hoyer that includes you. As to my Senators, I am pleased to say they seem to understand that Social Security is not negotiable, or at least to vote to harm it is to end their careers.

  5. Indigo says:

    Sequestration is economic defenestration without the dead body on the pavement.

  6. Indigo says:

    Our media have been careful not to report on developments in Greece. Your report helps illustrate why that it is. When, at last, the Second Great Depression that we are experiencing now is seen directly and named for what it is, it’ll be such a surprise. You know how we Americans are, we love surprises.

  7. irritatorofthepowerful says:

    The Sequester will not be magically going away. The Republicans have no where else to go…if they cave to President Obama this time when they hold the cards, they will cease to be a national party. Yes, they will take heat, but it will be less heat than if they’d folded their tents. And as a writer in the Washington Post said recently, the worst case scenario for Progressives is if the cuts come and nobody notices. Based on how the cuts are going to be implemented, I see the latter as a definite probability.

  8. karmanot says:

    Very Like +

  9. BeccaM says:

    Sadly, the only remedy the ‘serious’ people (i.e., the ones in charge of this mess) are calling for is MOAR austerity.

    Obviously they haven’t paid attention to centuries of human history, and the inevitable result when people are pushed to the breaking point. It’s gonna get ugly.

  10. Bravo! Bravo!

  11. Teabaggr Collective says:

    Boy, did I get a laugh out of that!

  12. BeccaM says:

    Slight correction there: Obama allowed the ‘Baggers to hold that gun to his head, and made sure to give it back to them as part of the phony-crisis temporary resolution deal.

    Time and time again, he could have asserted that the debt ceiling law itself was unconstitutional, because on its face, it is. Or make it a matter of national security, since that seems to trump every single provision in the Constitution, including supposedly sacrosanct civil rights.

    Instead it’s “Please don’t throw me into the briar patch! And oh — by the way, here’s your gun back.”

  13. BeccaM says:

    Oh my, brilliant analogy.

    Rachel Maddow had a great segment the other night about how these crises truly have been artificially engineered to hit every few months — and how at this point the American people have stopped giving a damn about the incessant “crying wolf”.

    While I won’t exactly say “both sides do it,” what I do firmly believe is that the current set of circumstances is being perpetuated — on purpose — by both sides. The Republicans dutifully take their hostages and make ridiculous, constantly changing extremist demands — and the Dems, after giving the GOPers most of what they want, just as dutifully ensure the Republicans can keep retaking the hostages, all the while insisting their (the Dems’) hands are utterly tied.

    Filibuster reform, debt ceiling (multiple times), Bush tax cut expiration, the phony fiscal cliff, now the sequester, and they’ve already got the debt ceiling teed up again in May. Anyway, it all reminds me of this particular Robot Chicken clip (not exactly safe for work):

  14. nicho says:

    Coming to a USA near you:

    The Greek Economy is Kaput

    After 5 years of negative growth, record-high unemployment and savage cuts to essential safety-net programs, Greek society is beginning to buckle. Diabetics cannot afford their insulin, suicides and anti-depressant usage is off-the-chart, tuberculosis and HIV rates are soaring, and desperate pensioners in Athens have been reduced to dumpster diving outside grocery stores for a few scraps of food to feed themselves and their families. The shocking devolution of a modern nation into a failed state did not happen overnight or without the help of EU bureaucrats and financial potentates who dictate economicpolicy from Brussels, Frankfort and Berlin. These so-called “managers” have steered the 17-member eurozone into the biggest slump since the Great Depression, imposing belt tightening measures that have choked offgrowth, sent unemployment skyrocketing, and incited protest and street
    violence across the continent. Greece has been particularly hard hit. Poverty and destitution are now widespread. The country is a basketcase.

  15. But he always does this shit. First, he preemptively acquiesces to bullying when he doesn’t have to. He started 2010 by adopting right-wing speak on deficits deficits deficits. (Then lost the House because he was hiding under the table all while regaling us all about how “oil doesn’t spill.” Then, when it’s time to pay the piper for being such a pussy, he shifts to blaming those mean Republicans with whom he plays golf and regularly enables. My point is that he’s playing this strong warrior now “no cutting to prosperity,” but that’s not at all what he was saying just at the beginning of last year. I know that I’m supposed to believe in Obama and all the joy and endless abandon he brings to us each and every day but I’m tired of being played the fool while Obama continues to lie and burnish his right-wing cred more and more.

  16. nicho says:

    Because the Teabaggers in Congress held a gun to his head over the debt ceiling. The bigger question is why the Teabag Congress is, as you say, “mouthing off.”

  17. I’m confused. If Obama is railing against them now and mouthing off all these (probably true) doomsday scenarios, why did HE MAKE THEM LAW BY SIGNING in the first place?

  18. nicho says:

    It’s a veritable tsunami:

    On Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling protecting the rights of same-sex couples to both be recognized as the legal parents of the children they are raising together. The case involved two women, Marci Frazier and Kelly Goudschaal, who had been
    raising children together, but then faced a custody dispute after they separated. The Court ruled
    that the coparenting contract the couple had signed is valid and shouldbe recognized, because their children are better off having two parentsthan just one:

  19. Naja pallida says:

    The entire sequester is essentially Congress pinning themselves underneath their bed covers, farting repeatedly, and then complaining about the smell. If they don’t want to do it, all John Boehner has to do is bring a resolution to the floor to not do it. But they’d rather play their silly games. Just like they will again in a month when the budget discussions come up, and then a couple more months after that when the debt ceiling comes up again. Republicans pre-planning to set their hair on fire over conducting regular government business.

  20. nicho says:

    OT — but mindblowing

    Dozens of prominent Republicans sign brief in support of same-sex marriage.

    WASHINGTON — Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to
    former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.

    The document will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court in support of a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and all similar bans. The court will hear back-to-back arguments next month in that case and another pivotal gay rights case that challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.

  21. samiinh says:

    Cut the other guy, but leave my benefits alone. This is Amerika.

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