In November 2011, President Obama lamented that “some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts” that were part of that August’s deal to raise the debt limit. “My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defence spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.”
Now, it’s Obama who is looking for an off ramp. With the automatic spending cuts about to go into effect, the Associated Press reports, “President Barack Obama will ask Congress to come up with tens of billions of dollars in short-term spending cuts and tax revenue to put off the automatic across the board cuts that are scheduled to kick in March 1, White House officials said Tuesday.”
The press has been filled with stories about how the Republican Party is on the ropes these days. Much of that is due to the Republicans’ bad habit of taking fixed positions and doggedly fighting for them even when they consistently lose the war.
Now it looks like someone is thinking on their feet. The key to this is the Republicans’ willingness to allow major cuts in defence spending. Obama and his people were unprepared for this volte-face, but for the party that depends upon government doled patronage, the sequester is a potential disaster.
The truth of the matter is that the Republicans should have called his bluff back in December and adjourned the House when the “fiscal cliff” negotiations reached an impasse. As I noted then, there was plenty of time to deal with the economic blow-back before the next election. But it’s better late than never.
One thing that may be making things easier on Republicans to accept deep defence cuts is their weariness with what Bob Dole used to call “another Democrat war”, in this case the continuing debacle in Afghanistan. The military is still primarily a “red state” institution, manned and womaned by people from same red states, and it gets depressing to see people continuing to come home in body bags while we pursue “legalised” assassination of American citizens and the other delightful things our government promotes. Liberals always wonder why their conservative counterparts persist in their loyalties; maybe the conservatives are starting to wonder themselves.