Bipartisanship has returned to Capitol Hill. In a big way.
Democrats and Republicans, Congress and the President. They are all in happy union.
What’s the topic? Sequestration.
Or rather, What Sequestration?
In 2011, Congress passed legislation known as the Budget Control Act that would trigger steep, automatic cuts to the budget if a special “supercommittee” could not reach a budget deal.
Surprise, that committee flopped.
But the legislation remained.
The vote in the House for the measure — now an unwanted bastard child — was 269-161, with Republicans favoring the bill 174-66 and Democrats splitting down the middle, 95-95.
The Senate vote was overwhelming as well, 74-26. A majority of both parties said “yes” to sequestration.
That was 2011. Fast forward to 2013, when the cuts have begun – and will continue each year over the next decade if nothing is done to replace them.
The spending reductions are approximately $85.4 billion during fiscal year 2013, with similar cuts in subsequent years, split between defense and non-defense.
So the Obama Administration submits its budget for Fiscal Year 2014 and whoops, using disappearing ink, totally ignores the looming cuts as if they were not on the books.
It did argue that its proposed deficit reduction proposals could replace sequestration, but the only ones who believe that was a successful strategy also believe in the tooth fairy.
“Be prepared” is the Boy Scouts’ marching song. But the Administration decided ’tis better not to be prepared and to pretend the cuts don’t exist.
Perhaps they hope that the cuts will be wiped out by some act of God or act of Congress, whichever comes first.
Did you hear any Republican denunciations of this profligacy from the President? A Daryl Issa (R-CA) investigation and new subpoenas? A Ted Cruz (R-TX) call for impeachment of the President?
Nope, because Republicans in Congress, in a happy marriage with Democrats in Congress and the President, also prefer to ignore their unwanted child.
So next week, the House Armed Services Committee considers the annual bill that funds the Pentagon. And to deal with the unwanted budget cuts? The Committee joins with the
White House and says speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil.
The Republican majority and the Democratic minority at least agree on one important point.
Soon thereafter, the House Appropriations will deal with its version of the Pentagon spending bill.
I am sure, dear reader, you will not be surprised to learn that the appropriators, hand-in-hand with the authorizers and the President, are ignoring the mandated budget cuts.
Well, not totally ignoring them. House GOP appropriators are sloughing off the cuts from military programs to health, education, transportation, food stamps and other programs they do not favor – which means almost anything else.
So Washington may not be able to agree on guns, immigration, Keystone pipeline,
Obamacare, climate change, judges or the budget deficit.
But it can agree on one issue in one more mixed metaphor: pay no heed to the elephant in the budget.