House Speaker John Boehner is frustrated. Why? The legislative body he runs has passed two bills to replace the president's sequester with offsetting sprending cuts. Democrats, who control the Senate and White House, have done nothing. The upper chamber hasn't voted on a single legislative alternative, and the president hasn't outlined a specific plan of his own. He's been far too busy flying around the country on Air Force One, holding campaign-style rallies designed to scare the living daylights out of people about the dire consequences of cutting 2.4 percent of 2013's projected federal spending -- which would still be higher than 2012 levels, even if those "cuts" are fully implemented. Boehner's had enough:
“We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something,” Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters in a press conference Tuesday morning. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded to Boehner with his own colorful rejoinder. “I think he should understand who is sitting on their posterior,” Reid said. “We’re doing our best here to pass something. The Speaker is doing nothing to try to pass anything over there.”
What the hell is Reid talking about? He's the leader of the Senate. He can schedule a vote whenever he wants, but he hasn't. The Dems can't even blame a GOP filibuster because you can't filibuster a non-existent bill. Meanwhile, House Republicans have twice done what Reid is accusing Boehner of "doing nothing" to accomplish. It's bizarro world stuff. What Reid actually is doing is throwing down pointless gauntlets:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would support letting the $85 billion in across-the-board sequestration cuts take effect on Friday if Republicans don't agree to increasing taxes as part of an alternative plan, the Nevada Democrat said on Tuesday "Until there's some agreement on revenue, I think we should just go ahead with the sequester," Reid told reporters after a meeting with Senate Democrats.
Um, yeah. That's the plan, champ. Here are the options Reid's presenting to Republicans: Either (a) unravel the guaranteed, agreed-to cuts proposed and signed by the president by partially replacing them with new tax increases, or (b) resist new tax increases while allowing the agreed-to automatic spending cuts to go into effect as scheduled. Easy call. Boehner is pledging to open door number two if Democrats don't "get off their ass," firmly ruling out the president's phony definition of "tax reform:"
Just two days before the sequester is set to take effect, House Speaker John Boehner will reject closing tax loopholes outside of a comprehensive rewrite of the Tax Code — the central tenet of President Barack Obama’s plan to blunt the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. “Higher tax rates are not the answers to our problems,” Boehner said in a speech Tuesday to the Credit Union National Association, according to prepared remarks. “Spending is the problem, and spending cuts are the solution. Yes, we should close loopholes, but we should do it as part of tax reform that lowers rates and helps create jobs. And again, this should be one of Washington’s highest priorities.”
Polling is all over the map. People don't know much about the sequester and they're prepared to blame Republicans for it (although that trend line is improving slightly), and yet they agree with the GOP's policy preferences. The new NBC/WSJ poll is filled with horrific data for Republicans -- they're seen as less reasonable, more partisan, and at fault for pretty much everything -- and most people see the sequester as a bad idea (although not as many seem to know whose idea it was). But consider the response to this question:
To deal with the deficit, which of the following three options would you favor Congress moving ahead with -- the current set of automatic spending cuts, a plan that has more spending cuts, or a plan that has fewer spending cuts?
The current automatic cuts: 14 percent
A plan that has more cuts: 39 percent
A plan that has fewer cuts: 37 percent
So by a 53-37 margin, the public prefers either the current sequester or a replacement that cuts spending more. And despite Obama's incessant doomsaying and reckless stunts, less than a third of respondents in a new Pew poll think the automatic cuts will negatively impact their lives. That's a major scare fail for the president. No wonder liberals are getting nervous that people will wake up on March 2nd and realize that reducing spending isn't all that bad, which would diminish the impact of future Obama hype-jobs. Let's sew this piece up by circling back to the House Speaker: Boehner has absolutely no reason to back down or enter any closed-door negotiations. Either the Democrats "get off their ass" and pass a plausible replacement bill of their own without any tax hikes, or the sequester goes through -- and the sun rises on Saturday morning.
UPDATE - While we're on the subject of Democrats getting "off their ass," voila: