Mitch McConnell: No, there will be no tax hikes to replace the sequester.

This is a pretty clear statement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that he would not accept a plan to avert the sequester by raising taxes, just days before Democrats are expected to propose exactly that.

“My constituents in Kentucky will not accept a tax hike in the place of spending cuts that were already agreed to by both parties,” McConnell said. “We agreed to reduce this amount of spending in October of 2011, without raising taxes. We’ve already made this agreement.

“The question is, what are we going to do about it?”

…And while I know that it’s fashionable, and even often easily justifiable, to go off on Mitch McConnell for being only intermittently resolute on these things, this is looking to be one of those times when he is being resolute.  The bottom line is that the sequester will go off unless the Republican Congressional caucuses decide otherwise; and it seems that the Republican Congressional caucuses have decided that while the impact will be unpleasant, it’ll be less unpleasant in the long run than letting the Democrats continue to freebase the Treasury.  Ben Domenech argues that this is due to a power shift between the factions that make up the Republican party, with the defense hawks losing out; speaking as a defense hawk I’d have to say that this is… more or less true; but it’s more like we saw the writing on the wall ahead of time and decided not to fight in a burning house.

Ben and I do agree on one thing, though: Barack Obama and Senate Democrats* weren’t really prepared for this showdown.  If they were, they’d be probably trying something a bit smarter than relying on the President calling for hate-the-rich tax hikes at tomorrow’s State of the Union address.  Which, as the link shows, is something that even the Washington Post is just the tiniest bit skeptical about whether that will work.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: One more point: if the Obama administration does make a deal on the sequester it will probably not include Harry Reid this time, either.  But if it does not make a deal, expect the whispers to start to come from the executive branch staff that it’s all the Senate Majority Leader’s fault – oh, and they’ll blame the GOP, too. But some of it will slop over onto Reid.

*Nobody cares what House Democrats are doing right now, of course.

5 thoughts on “Mitch McConnell: No, there will be no tax hikes to replace the sequester.”

  1. The trick to in defeating a trap is to know it’s there. The “D”s knew it was there and walked in with no clue how to beat it and now it will smash down on them. In short “Clueless”, it’s what we’re going to be having for four more years. Don’t blame me I voted for the other guy.

  2. The President wasn’t prepared, and neither was the Pentagon. I worked as a Navy Contractor in DC at the time the sequester was negotiated and signed. A few months later, the question came up at a quarterly meeting. The Client said point blank that direction from the CNO and Pentagon were no plans were being made and we were to go on like the sequester was not going to happen. Which is why they’re scrambling now and doing things that could have been avoided, like cancelling an entire Carrier Strike Group deployment and ship repair contracts. That money is easy to disappear, even if it hurts us more long-term.

    Obama simply assumed that the defense cuts were a poison pill that would force the Republicans to the table and be more amenable to his position later, if he were re-elected. He chose….poorly.

  3. As a hardcore defense hawk, I think we can more easily afford, the not risks but certain national security costs of cutting the defense budget entirely than we can afford the national security costs of letting certain entities continue to rape the economy and the currency to death.
    A military is a thing that works better with a regular and reliable money supply. Given that, it works better if it has enough money for food, housing, and especially costly, training. Procurement and equipment are also important, but I tend to think that training, and uncontrollable psychological factors of the host society are most significant. (Per the Romans, the more you sweat, the less you bleed. One of the other factors in the Romans beating so many of their peers was how crazy the Romans were by the standards of those peers.) If you have money to train, and can attract and recruit the most suitable people from your population, it is nice to also have the funding and economy to be able to regularly go to war with people without bankrupting yourself. Needless to say, this is a huge amount of money to want to spend.
    Even so, I think high levels of spending on military issues can give the United States of America a huge savings compared to throwing things at the Federal level together whenever we end up needing an army or navy to fight a war with somebody. This is not just a savings in money, it is also a savings in blood, that I think well worth spending above the minimum in treasure. (Note that I consider these savings significantly more certain and real than the returns on proposed investment heavily discussed at the big Democratic convention last fall. The Democratic proposal is similar to the ‘train hard enough, and you can get super human strength and speed’ that you see in the sillier martial arts anime, manga, and other stories.)
    If we could have negotiations in good faith, we might be able to get deals cut that would let us invest some in military spending, and cut overall costs enough that we won’t be looking at our military investments going bottom up sometime in the future due to economic screw ups. As it is, it looks like stronger medicine might be needed.
    Strongest is cutting everything. This would hurt really bad. This would have certain costs in terms of terrorist murders and such. We can say enough about the near term situation that it probably couldn’t cause vital damage unless we are already dead. We should try to avoid this, if we can afford the choice, due to our responsibilities to our citizens and legal residents. Not to mention our allies and interests. Even if we restarted military funding after a short break, we would never be able to regain all that we would lose in terms of military ability. But, if we could tie it to total cuts in everything, they couldn’t just tack on the savings to other parts of the government.
    Yes, doing this would make us look weaker. Weaker than we’ve already made ourselves look with the Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy?
    We can predict the environment of short term pain, if we have it out now. If we wait on fortune, who knows when it will strike?
    As far as I am concerned, exclusive of funding and missions, Obama has already heavily vandalized the military. Burning the Louvre would be less of a crime.
    America’s interests are being advanced so haphazardly that progress is retrograde. Even if funding and leadership were sound as of now, we are likely to see successful terrorism anyway. If all goes as expected, it is pretty much a certainty in the medium term, and has been for some time.
    It is a worse mess than has been made of my efforts at writing this.
    (See where I started losing steam, lost track of my argument, and started really needing to go to bed? )
    (It is a poison pill. All medicines are poisons, and toxicity is in the dose. People will only avoid the poison pill if it is less survivable than what you try to offer them instead.)

  4. I’m not super-pleased that defense will be 50% of the cuts (who negotiated this stuff?), but, it’s necessary. Cannot keep spending $1tr more than you take in on an annual basis.

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