How Republicans Learned to Love the Sequester

| Fri Mar. 1, 2013 8:32 AM PST

John Boehner will be meeting with President Obama this afternoon, but he's already announced that he refuses to seriously discuss the sequester anymore. It turns out this was just what he needed to bolster his flagging reputation within the Republican Party:

As the president and Congressional Democrats have tried to force Mr. Boehner back to the table for talks to head off the automatic budget cuts set to take effect on Friday, Mr. Boehner has instead dug in deeper, refusing to even discuss an increase in revenue and insisting in his typical colorful language that it was time for the Senate to produce a measure aimed at the cuts.

....While the frustrations of Congressional Democrats and Mr. Obama with Mr. Boehner are reaching a fever pitch, House Republicans could not be more pleased with their leader. “We asked him to commit to us that when the cuts actually came on March 1, that he would stand firm and not give in, and he’s holding to that,” said Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana.

....Representative Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican who was elected on the 2010 Tea Party wave and has had his differences with the speaker, was similarly complimentary toward Mr. Boehner. “He’s doing exactly what he said he was going to do, and I think it’s working to our favor and to his,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “I get the feeling that our party is probably more unified right now than it has been at any time in the last several months.”

I'm not surprised about this. After all, Republicans are fine with the domestic cuts, and probably figure the inevitable horror stories won't be bad enough to do them any lasting damage. They can tough it out. And while cutting every single agency by the same amount is dumb, it's only for seven months. They're allowed to rejuggle the cuts during the upcoming budget cycle.

As for the defense cuts, they're probably counting on putting that money back into the budget somehow. There are enough Democrats who will go along with this to make that possible.

So here's what they get: A bunch of cuts to domestic programs. A short-term hit to the Pentagon. No tax hikes. And lots of chaos over the next few months, which will make voters even more disgusted with Washington than usual. What's not to like? This is Republican heaven, assuming their political read of the situation turns out to be correct. And it might.

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