Slowly but surely, away from the glare of the national spotlight, the sequestration policy is doing exactly what it was intended to do: it's hurting the nation's economy and taking benefits from American families that need them. Worse, the sequester is undermining the country for no reason.
The policy has drawn universal opposition from Democrats, who've pushed for a balanced deal to replace the cuts, but Republicans still don't seem to know what they think of the sequestration policy they helped create two years ago. Last month, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said many GOP lawmakers "voted against the sequestration because we knew all of these calamities were in the future." And yesterday, as Robert Schlesinger reported, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said largely the opposite.
Appearing before reporters this morning at a press breakfast organized by The Christian Science Monitor, Flake was asked about the paradox of achieving a grand bargain becoming harder even as falling deficits makes such a deal's needed scope smaller. "It's amazing what a drop in $400-500 billion a year in the deficit will do," he quipped.... Then he added:"The fact that the sequester went into effect has been another thing that has taken some of the pressure off and a lot of members of Congress will publicly complain and moan about the sequester and privately say better that somebody else makes the decision than us. Unfortunately that's what happens."
As Schlesinger added, "If he's speaking the truth, it would speak to the utter political cowardice on the part of the Secretly Relieved Caucus." Quite right. Lawmakers are responsible for making difficult decisions, and Flake is letting us in on a little secret -- members of Congress, presumably Republicans, "privately" concede that they like sequestration because it makes decisions for them.
I'd just add that this also reinforces the post-policy thesis quite nicely. Flake is describing an attitude in which those responsible for governing are delighted that they don't have to bother. It's all just automatic -- the sequester undermines the economy, it hurts struggling families, and it just keeps happening without Congress lifting a finger.
It's a rolling disaster on auto-pilot. Congress could prevent the damage, but members "privately say" they doesn't see the point in bothering.