The sequester is coming and both parties are – in true Washington fashion – trying to place the blame on each other. The White House released an estimate of state-by-state impact of the sequestration in an attempt to pressure Republicans into compromising while Republicans tried a more novel tactic: GOP operatives tried making #Obamaquester trend on Twitter in hopes of shifting the blame on Obama.
The House continues to lose the blame game, in part because of their striking unpopularity. According to one recent Washington Post-Pew poll, 45% of the American public blames the House Republicans for the sequestration. While Obama doesn’t exactly escape from this debacle without a taint (32% of Americans blame him and 13% blame both parties equally), this 13% gap is significant. If sequestration is viewed as a bad thing by both parties, then the Republicans will have to own it.
Sensing that, there’s been yet another fracture within the Republican Party. Some Republican politicians, led by John Boehner, have conceded that the sequester will be the owned by the GOP. And if the sequester is going to be a Republican thing, why not try and act like it’s a good thing. It’s political spin at its very barest, and it’s the best Boehnor can do short of convincing the Tea Party to stand down and get a deal done. As a result, he’s now claiming that the sequester will save “tens of millions of jobs in the future,” by chipping away at the debt problem.
In a speech today in front of the Credit Union National Association, the House Speaker doubled down. “Spending is the problem, and spending cuts are the solution,” he said as the nation draws nearer to the Friday sequestration.
Other Republicans, of a more conservative bent, are bemoaning that the sequester cuts don’t go far enough. Senator Rand Paul, he of Libertarian fame, lamented on CNN that the sequester cuts are “a pittance,” adding that “there are no real cuts happening over 10 years.” Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan said that he’ll vote against any bill, Republican or Democrat, that includes spending cuts less than that which is in the sequester.
But then there are Republicans, whose constituents will face the brunt of the sequester, who are bemoaning Boehnor’s sudden reversal on the sequester. Not surprisingly, Virginia Republicans are leading the charge with Rep. Scott Rigell “calling on leadership from Speaker Boehnor, [Senate Majority] Leader [Harry] Reid and President Obama to put what is best for our country ahead of anything else,” at one town-hall recently.
If the American public’s opinion is to mean anything, it is these latter Republicans who are making more sense. According to the same Post-Pew survey, 62% of Americans think sequester will have a negative impact on the economy.