A muddled message gets messier and more mendacious

Updated
 

With the sequestration cuts just days away, Republicans have spent the last several focused on rhetoric instead of policy. By any sensible standard, GOP policymakers have invested no real effort on resolving the problem, and have instead devoted all of their energies in winning a public-relations fight once the sequester starts doing real damage.

And with this in mind, one might expect their message to be amazing. After all, once a political party gives up on governing and focuses solely on messaging, it’s stands to reason they’ll be pretty good at it.

And yet, Republicans’ sequestration message “is all over the place.” GOP leaders believe the sequester will be awful but they want to let it happen. The policy was integral to the Republican fiscal plan and it’s entirely the White House’s idea. When Republicans say the cuts will hurt, that’s fine; when Democrats say the cuts will hurt, it’s evidence of scare tactics.

And now Republicans are simultaneously convinced the cuts will hurt and help the economy.

For those who can’t watch clips online, Rep. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a likely U.S. Senate candidate, argued over the weekend that sequestration cuts “must” happen in order to “get this economy rolling again.”

As a matter of economic policy, Price’s argument is practically gibberish. Taking billions out of the economy and forcing public sector workers from their jobs does not get an economy “rolling,” unless we’re talking about “rolling” downhill. Independent economic estimates, including that of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, suggest these cuts will likely cost the U.S. economy 750,000 jobs just this year, which leads to legitimate questions about whether Price, a member of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, has the foggiest idea what he’s talking about.

But the larger point is, Price’s comments offer a reminder that Republicans don’t even agree with other Republicans. If the sequester will “get this economy rolling again,” why is Price’s party so eager to blame the policy on President Obama? Why are some far-right House Republicans saying these cuts will do real harm while other far-right House Republicans say the exact opposite?

In the meantime, while conservative policymakers trade contradictory talking points while focusing entirely on winning a p.r. fight, the White House is focused on the policy consequences.

The White House on Sunday detailed how the deep spending cuts set to begin this week would affect programs in every state and the District, as President Obama launched a last-ditch effort to pressure congressional Republicans to compromise on a way to stop the across-the-board cuts. […]

Seeking to raise alarm among a public that has not paid much attention to the issue, the White House on Sunday released 51 fact sheets describing what would happen over the next seven months if the cuts go into effect. […]

The sequester – worth $1.2 trillion over 10 years – effectively orders the administration to make across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts to agency programs, sparing only some mandatory programs such as Medicaid and food stamps.

I’ve included the state-by-state links below. Each of the documents are pdf.

1. Alabama        

2. Alaska        

3. Arizona        

4. Arkansas        

5. California        

6. Colorado        

7. Connecticut        

8. Delaware        

9. District of Columbia

10.  Florida        

11.  Georgia        

12.  Hawaii        

13.  Idaho        

14.  Illinois        

15.  Indiana        

16.  Iowa        

17.  Kansas        

18.  Kentucky        

19.  Louisiana        

20.  Maine        

21.  Maryland        

22.  Massachusetts        

23.  Michigan        

24.  Minnesota        

25.  Mississippi        

26.  Missouri        

27.  Montana        

28.  Nebraska        

29.  Nevada        

30.  New Hampshire        

31.  New Jersey        

32.  New Mexico        

33.  New York        

34.  North Carolina        

35.  North Dakota        

36.  Ohio        

37.  Oklahoma        

38.  Oregon        

39.  Pennsylvania

40.  Rhode Island

41.  South Carolina

42.  South Dakota

43.  Tennessee

44.  Texas

45.  Utah

46.  Vermont

47.  Virginia

48.  Washington

49.  West Virginia

50.  Wisconsin

51.  Wyoming

Tom Price, Sequester and Sequestration

A muddled message gets messier and more mendacious

Updated