At this point, I don’t think there is a Republican position, per se, on sequestration cuts. As we talked about the other day, GOP lawmakers came up with the idea, then condemned it, then embraced it, then blamed President Obama for it, then celebrated it as a “victory,” then condemned it again when it started delaying flights.
All things considered, though, it appears Republicans are for the sequester at least to the extent it gives them a policy outcome they consider worthwhile. Igor Volsky flags this quote from Sen. John Boozman (R) of Arkansas this morning.
“I really think the FAA and many of the other agencies are trying to figure out how they can make things as painful as possible to the public. And it reminds me of a spoiled brat kid. You take away some of his stuff and, you know, he starts screaming. They don’t want any cuts period. […]
“You know, you can knock sequestration or not knock it, but it’s worked in the sense that hit has forced reduction in spending. And I’ve been here 11 years and this is the first time I’ve seen it in this manner, in the sense that it is something that’s actually working.”
What an interesting argument. By cutting spending, Congress has succeeded in cutting spending. As sequestration defenses go, Boozman’s approach at least has a certain tautological beauty.
But in terms of grown-up policymaking, this just isn’t a responsible approach for a U.S. senator to take.
For one thing, government spending was already cut, before the sequester. For another, to accuse the FAA for deliberately making conditions “as painful as possible to the public” is a deeply silly conspiracy theory, unsupported by the facts.
But even putting that aside, as we’ve discussed several times, the sequester is taking a terrible toll on the nation – hurting everything from the economy to cancer clinics, the military to education – and independent economists have projected the policy will cost the nation in upwards of 750,000 jobs this year.
But it’s “working”? If cutting spending is an a priori value, sure. To hear Boozman tell it, cutting spending is good, therefore it’s good that the sequester has cut spending. But what I would hope is that those responsible for shaping public policy would consider the question with a little more depth – the policy is “working” for whom? Are Americans better or worse off? Is the economy going to be stronger or weaker?