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With the sequester looming at midnight last, the Senate awakened from it's coma, blinked it's eyes, took a bleary-eyed look around..and then laid down and went back to sleep.
Thanks, Senate. I know you're supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body, but you distinguished gentlemen and gentlewomen have been deliberating on budgetary matters for almost four years now. It's time to make some choices already. Y'all make turtles look like Usain Bolt.
Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans each made proposals last night, kinda.
First, the designed-to-fail, completely partisan proposal of the Democrats. From the New York Times:
Democrats assembled legislation to replace $85 billion in cuts this year with a mix of tax increases on the rich, corporate taxes and cuts to military and agriculture subsidies with no consultations with Republicans.
The Republicans had already taken more revenue off the table after caving on revenue last month, so there was not a snowball's chance in hell of Republicans going along with this proposal, especially when it was designed without any Republican input whatsoever. This was purely a move for political cover for the Democrats, so they can claim they at least TRIED to pass something to avert the sequester. Naturally, it was voted down along party lines.
Things got more interesting with the Republican proposal. From the same Times article:
Republicans, internally divided but desperate for some alternative to the Democratic approach, offered legislation that would have locked in the cuts but would have given President Barack Obama near carte blanche to decide how to mete them out...[Republican] party leaders settled on legislation that would have given Obama extraordinary powers to set the course of the federal government over the next seven months, as long as he hit the $85 billion target..."
This is an amazing giveaway by the Republicans. They were going to let President Obama decide on the spending cuts ? If I was Obama and the Democrats, I would have jumped at the chance to cut what I wanted to cut, and keep what I wanted to keep. It would give Obama exactly the power he needs to avoid the sequester and shape the cuts to his liking. A very magnanimous move by the Senate Republicans. I'm surprised they did it. This was just the leverage Obama needed to avoid the harsh sequester cuts that Obama said would harm the country.
But the Democrats voted down the Republican proposal, and you are going to love the reason why. Here it is, as unbelievable as it sounds:
Democrats and the White House rejected [the Republican proposal] as a ploy to saddle Obama with the political consequences of the cuts.
You...gotta...be...fricking...kidding...me. This President would let the sequester, which he's been railing against, go into effect rather than shape the cuts to his liking because he fears the political consequences ??? God forbid if anything might become Obama's responsibility !!!! Cant have that !!! He's only the President, for heaven's sake !!!! It's not like he's in a position of authority or anything !!! Off we go through-the-looking-glass again with this President. The limp-wristed Obama just put his own narrow, personal political interests above the interests of the entire country. Allow me to pause here for a minute to compose myself, lest I unleash a paroxysm of profanity in Obama's direction.......arrrrrrrggghhhh......
Our fearless leader is some fella, eh ? I use the term "leader" very loosely, of course, since Obama's number one move invariably seems to be absolving himself of responsibility (unless something good happens. Then it was all Obama's doing. Did you hear that Obama got Bin Laden ? Oh yeah !!!).
After those two votes, and a sickening display of cowardice under fire by our Commander-In-Chief, the Rip Van Senate went back into it's coma, and the sequester is on.
And Obama will tell you it's not his fault. No sirree. It's those darned, uncompromising Republicans. That's the ticket.