Senate Democrats, Obama still have no ideas on sequester replacement … after 18 months

posted at 11:21 am on February 8, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The Republican embrace of the sequester cuts has already paid dividends, even if all it does is slow the increase in spending rather than make real reductions in overall budgets.  It has forced Barack Obama to ask for a delay on his own budget proposal while offering no new ideas on spending reductions.  The move also forced Senate Democrats to go back to normal order to offer alternatives, and The Hill reports that they were utterly unprepared for it:

Senate Democrats are struggling to come up with a replacement for the $85 billion spending-cut sequester set to begin on March 1.

Key Democrats huddled Thursday in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) office to discuss options for preventing the looming cuts after returning from a retreat in Annapolis where they discussed strategy with President Obama. …

Other senators said the party so far has not agreed on the balance of tax hikes and spending cuts in a package, on how big the package would be or on how much of the sequester it would replace.

Yeah, but other than that, they’ve got it nailed.  What else is there to discuss?  The bill title?

Remember, too, that the sequester was proposed by the White House, passed by both chambers of Congress, and signed by President Obama eighteen months ago.  At that time, no one expected it to actually activate; practically everyone expressed opposition to the sequester.  However, only the House actually took action to replace it — twice, in fact, passing bills that replaced the sequester cuts with other more rational spending reductions.  Neither the Senate nor the White House acted on those House bills, and neither entity proposed even a single specific idea for its replacement.

Even more amusing, the Senate has gone so long without passing a normal-order budget that Democrats aren’t quite sure what the process is any longer:

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over tax issues, but Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.), the panel’s chairman, said he wasn’t sure who would lead the bill through the Senate.

Asked if he would be the senator shepherding the bill, he responded: “Good question.”

Unbelievable.  After 18 months, the Democrats had no Plan B for the sequester, assuming that Republicans would be desperate to stop it themselves and would willingly go back into fiscal-cliff mode to deal with Obama and Harry Reid directly.  Instead, the decision to insist on normal order and require Democrats to produce a bill has exposed them as entirely unready to govern in both the Senate and the White House.

As I wrote yesterday for the Fiscal Times, this doesn’t mean that Republicans will win everything they want, but they’ve certainly made the real problem in spending discipline as clear as possible:

Obama provided plenty of dire warnings about the damage that his own budget-gimmick proposal may do if it becomes active in less than four weeks.  What Obama hasn’t provided is an actual solution for replacing his previous solution.  In fact, Obama hasn’t yet provided a budget proposal for FY2014, despite having a statutory requirement to do so by now – making four budget proposals out of Obama’s five opportunities that arrived late.  Instead of offering specific proposals for spending cuts to replace the sequester, Obama offered a vague demand for “tax reform” that would increase revenue again.

This deadline has been in place for months.  It became clear weeks ago that Republicans would likely allow the sequester to go forward, at least long enough to put pressure on replacement cuts from Democrats, and would be in position to refuse to raise any more revenue.  And yet Obama not only sounded like someone shocked out of a reverie, he offered nothing to resolve the standoff – and neither did Harry Reid and Senate Democrats, not even an offer to take up the bill approved by the House in the last session if passed again.

It turns out that the real crisis has been Democratic governance all along … or the lack of it.

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This is what happens when you don’t pass a budget for- what, four years now?

BigGator5 on February 8, 2013 at 11:26 AM

The Obama campaign doesn’t need a stinking plan. Just blame the enemy for anything that goes badly and take credit for everything else.

forest on February 8, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Well you do know somehow the r’s will get the blame, they always do by bho/d’s!
L

letget on February 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM

Please tell me Reid’s not asleep at the podium.

avagreen on February 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over tax issues, but Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.), the panel’s chairman, said he wasn’t sure who would lead the bill through the Senate.

I thought the brilliant Patty Murray was leading this. Has she forgotten ?

Jabberwock on February 8, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Heh, one might say we sent a boy to do a mans job.

antipc on February 8, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Who is not surprised? **raises hand**

hillsoftx on February 8, 2013 at 11:33 AM

It turns out that the real crisis has been Democratic governance all along … or the lack of it.

Wrong! It turns out that the real crisis has been the voting public all along … and their unwillingness to face reality.

WashJeff on February 8, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Time for a quick junket on the tax payers dime in a private jet to bang some pre-teen hookers in a foreign land.

acyl72 on February 8, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Struggling? Really? The $800 BILLION so-called “stimulus” is now part of the baseline and these damn fools can’t find 10% of that to cut?

That highlights why we will never get our spending under control until after the economic collapse.

Charlemagne on February 8, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Nobody cares.

trigon on February 8, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Sadly, the low-info Obama voter doesn’t care about the Senate Democrat’s fecklessness. They’ll be told by their masters who to blame for any cuts and vote accordingly.

sigh

Common Sense Floridian on February 8, 2013 at 11:38 AM

That FT article is interesting:

What Obama hasn’t provided is an actual solution for replacing his previous solution.

So…the Senate cannot act without explicit instruction from Obama? I wonder what happened to ‘separation of powers’? I wonder what happened to Congress as a body (as opposed to the Senate as a tank)? I wonder what happened to the Senate abiding by its own rules for conducting its procedings?

I wonder when folks are going to accept that Harry Reid has ADD?

ss396 on February 8, 2013 at 11:40 AM

You see, the real problem of it is that the American people aren’t paying attention. All they see is the usual Washington infighting, and Obama in front of every camera available claiming that Republicans want to throw grandma off the cliff, cut off funding for children with autism and eliminate education credits for poor people.

Unless you are one of us, and follow politics closely, you cannot tell that Obama is spewing his usual lies and the Democrats are utterly unable to govern. So while Republicans may be winning this skirmish, they are losing the battle of messaging, which, as we saw in November 2012, will end up with Republicans losing the war.

Republicans need to nominate someone to go tit for tat with Obama and respond to his lies as soon as he speaks them. And I’m not talking about a press release. I’m talking about someone literally standing up somewhere in front of a bunch of microphones and calling him out. That way, the media can’t just ignore it.

JoeShmoe99 on February 8, 2013 at 11:41 AM

It would be nice if the GOP didn’t cave on this fight. Unlike the fiscal cliff deal when doing nothing would have meant enormous tax hikes, doing nothing now means modest (yes, the Dems will tell you ENORMOUS) spending restraint.

As for the DoD “cuts,” the DoD could stand to have some downsizing just like every other part of government. And no, that doesn’t mean chiseling VA hospitals. It could easily be trimmed from the 5 sided palace in DC, for example, where we spend godknowshowmuch money coming up with plans for a possible war with Canada.

MJBrutus on February 8, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Sadly, we all know this. Regular low-info Americans don’t! All O has to do is a couple of speeches (itinerary/speeches TBD), the puppy press does a number and once again it is the dang Rs that are so obstructionist.

The Rs still won’t learn the messaging problem they have!

CoffeeLover on February 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Repeal the Seventeenth Amendment!!!

LoganSix on February 8, 2013 at 11:46 AM

…who needs a plan or a budget when the Politburo Press is in your pocket?…obviously you can do whatever you want!…the press will demonize whoever you want and ignore whatever you want…

KOOLAID2 on February 8, 2013 at 11:47 AM

After all he “won.”

docflash on February 8, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Wrong! It turns out that the real crisis has been the voting public all along … and their unwillingness to face reality.
WashJeff on February 8, 2013 at 11:35 AM

You mean the government can’t just keep spending a trillon and a half dollars of imaginary money on free stuff for us forever?

tommyboy on February 8, 2013 at 11:54 AM

LoganSix on February 8, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Agreed.

BigGator5 on February 8, 2013 at 11:55 AM

What else is there to discuss? The bill title?

How about the “We got nothin’ act of 2013?”

Seriously, the House GOP should be driving home the point that the Dems refuse to come to the table with even one suggestion as to what should change. Other than that, the Republicans simply need to step back and let sequestration come. The Dems were so sure that they could go into deal-making mode where the rat-eared wonder summons the leaders of both parties to reach agreement that they’re not prepared to actually lead.

Happy Nomad on February 8, 2013 at 11:55 AM

We have to pass the sequester (point) to find out what’s in it.

h/t: Nanzi

CorporatePiggy on February 8, 2013 at 12:00 PM

All O has to do is a couple of speeches (itinerary/speeches TBD), the puppy press does a number and once again it is the dang Rs that are so obstructionist.

The Rs still won’t learn the messaging problem they have!

CoffeeLover on February 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM

I don’t think you are right, this time.

A couple of reasons. The GOP has floated ideas only to have them tossed on the pile of dead (i.e. non-Democrat) legislation in Harry Reid’s office. So long as the GOP lets these bastards twist in the wind, a speech isn’t going to change the reality that sequestration is coming. The biggest mistake the GOP could make at this point is make a suggestion about where to cut so that the commies could get morally indignant that the GOP would even consider cutting [insert wedge issue here]. The party of criminals owns the Executive Branch and one-half of the Legislative Branch. It’s time they show the world just how super smart they are by solving the looming sequestration cuts through normal order before the clock runs out three weeks from today.

Happy Nomad on February 8, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Other than solicit underage hookers, avoid paying taxes and demagogue anybody that doesn’t agree with Marxism…what exactly is it that liberals in Congress do?

search4truth on February 8, 2013 at 12:01 PM

You mean the government can’t just keep spending a trillon and a half dollars of imaginary money on free stuff for us forever?

tommyboy on February 8, 2013 at 11:54 AM

That’s one and a half of those new coins!

Happy Nomad on February 8, 2013 at 12:01 PM

You know what? Rhetoric isn’t very nutritious.

And a lot of people are about to discover its the only thing their government is capable of producing.

BobMbx on February 8, 2013 at 12:05 PM

I see only one ‘problem’ with allowing these cuts to go through.

As we saw after WWI and WWII, cuts to government spending do IMPROVE the ECONOMY!

We must make sure that everyone knows that over time, CUTTING GOVERNMENT SPENDING results in an IMPROVED ECONOMY!

Which is, of course, the exact opposite of what the economic idiot in the White House claims on a daily basis.

Freddy on February 8, 2013 at 12:10 PM

You know what? Rhetoric isn’t very nutritious.

And a lot of people are about to discover its the only thing their government is capable of producing.

BobMbx on February 8, 2013 at 12:05 PM

And the best part about it is that it isn’t the productive that get hit first and get hit hardest. It is the stupid greedy parasites that just gave us a status quo election that are among the first to feel the pain.

Happy Nomad on February 8, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Its amusing to see the dems squirming. Pubs, embrace the sequester. That’ll back up your rhetoric of cutting spending and make the dems squirm even more.

tommy71 on February 8, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Obama is contemptuous of even the idea of having to offer a plan. He goes through whatever motions he does purely as a pretense and only as abolutely required. He has no respect — none — for Constitutional governance. Indeed, he is deeply, intrinsically contemptuous of the outside dead-old-white-man’s structure, contraints and expectations placed on him. He privately sneers at the whole thing. This is a lazy malice and determined bad faith at work here unlike anything ever seen in America.

rrpjr on February 8, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Congress had a deadline of September 14 for Obama to outline his idea of cuts in exchange for the PREVIOUS years debt ceiling increase.

The dog, Bo, ate Obama’s homework during the election, and the president needed a pass.

He told Romney at a presidential debate, in front of the entire country, that no lay off notices needed to be sent to defense industry contractors, that their jobs would be fine, and it would be taken care of.

Another Lie.

Fleuries on February 8, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Instead of offering specific proposals for spending cuts to replace the sequester, Obama offered a vague demand for “tax reform” that would increase revenue again.

Obama wrongly assumes that raising taxes will increase revenue.

The second part of the “Bush Tax Cuts” were signed May 28, 2003, and turned the economy around… both employment and revenues went UP as a result of the Bush Tax Cuts.

Note how both employment and revenues went UP in FY 2004, UP again in FY 2005, UP again in FY 2006, and while employment dropped slightly in 2007, revenues were UP again that year.

The Bush Tax Cuts improved employment and improved revenues… Revenues in FY 2007 were 44% larger than FY 2003 revenues!

So, if lowering tax rates led to higher employment and 44% larger revenues, isn’t it logical to think that raising tax rates will lead to lower employment (higher UNemployment) and LOWER revenues?!?

Laffer Curve 101.

ITguy on February 8, 2013 at 12:13 PM

In the 3rd Presidential Debate, Barack Hussein Obama looked into the cameras and declared regarding Sequestration, “It will NOT happen.” He even said it a 2nd time to stress the ‘fact’ that it would NOT happen.

What are all you people worried about?!

easyt65 on February 8, 2013 at 12:15 PM

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over tax issues, but Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.), the panel’s chairman, said he wasn’t sure who would lead the bill through the Senate.

Asked if he would be the senator shepherding the bill, he responded: “Good question.”

That is frightening coming from Senate Finance Committee Chairman.

But no worries. Plenty of urgent issues. Guns, Wimmins rights, undocumented future citizens…

Meanwhile budget… we are printing money 24X7

antisocial on February 8, 2013 at 12:15 PM

It turns out that the real crisis has been Democratic governance all along … or the lack of it.

Average Outlays, as percentages of GDP, during four all-Republican budgets, FY 2004-2007:
19.8

Average Outlays, as percentages of GDP, during two all-Democrat Fiscal Years 2009-2010:
24.7

Data Source: Budget numbers directly from the White House Office of Management and Budget

ITguy on February 8, 2013 at 12:15 PM

They’re just mad Republicans won’t play their stupid game.

supernova on February 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Obama, Reid, etal are like petulant children, PO’d that they really have to do what they agreed to.

Tater Salad on February 8, 2013 at 12:18 PM

They’re just mad Republicans won’t play their stupid game.

supernova on February 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

I think you’ve pretty much summed up everything there.

gsherin on February 8, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Instead of offering specific proposals for spending cuts to replace the sequester, Obama offered a vague demand for “tax reform” that would increase revenue again. hit the campaign trail to raise money for fellow democrats.

BacaDog on February 8, 2013 at 12:21 PM

So, if lowering tax rates led to higher employment and 44% larger revenues, isn’t it logical to think that raising tax rates will lead to lower employment (higher UNemployment) and LOWER revenues?!?

Laffer Curve 101.

ITguy on February 8, 2013 at 12:13 PM

The liberal theory on taxes vs revenue is simple to disprove.

Just ask this question: If raising taxes increases revenue and helps the economy, if we raised taxes to 100% are we guaranteed 100% employment?

BobMbx on February 8, 2013 at 12:23 PM

In the 3rd Presidential Debate, Barack Hussein Obama looked into the cameras and declared regarding Sequestration, “It will NOT happen.” He even said it a 2nd time to stress the ‘fact’ that it would NOT happen.

What are all you people worried about?!

easyt65 on February 8, 2013 at 12:15 PM

It will be interesting if the rat-eared bastard touches on sequestration during the State of the Union speech and, if so, he continues to deny it is about to happen. Conversely he could offer specifics.

But here’s the thing. Congress has said that it wants the Dems and rat-eared one to offer alternatives to the scheduled cuts. Congress can’t go into normal order proceedings and mark up something called “reform.” And the House GOP shouldn’t even bother trying. The Dems have three weeks to do something before sequestration hits. Hard enough if you have a leader who does his job but next to impossible when the bastard is launching a fundraising tour.

Happy Nomad on February 8, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Please tell me Reid’s not asleep at the podium.

avagreen on February 8, 2013 at 11:29 AM

No, he’s brain dead.

CurtZHP on February 8, 2013 at 12:26 PM

They’re just mad Republicans won’t play their stupid game.

supernova on February 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

For 18 months now Dems have been like the fat girl waiting to be asked to the prom.

Ed Morrissey is wrong when he says that they have no Plan B. There Plan B has always been to pounce on the GOP suggestions as harmful to one protected class of parasite or other. If, for example, the GOP were to suggest cuts to Medicare then the mantra would be about throwing Granny off the cliff. Ending extended unemployment benefits would be an attack on the jobless (and just as recovery is getting underway too). And cuts to any program even remotely related to lady parts would be met with accusations about a war on women.

We are three weeks away from sequestration. I’ve got to wonder just when during this time the Dems come to realize that they are not going to stop it from happening. Then Plan C comes into play- the blame game.

Happy Nomad on February 8, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Here’s whats going to happen.

Congress will wait till midnight prior the sequestration, and pass by unanimous consent a bill to delay the sequester by 3 months. Or 72 months.

They’ve learned that this game of attempted financial suicide is really fun, and makes for some interesting diversions from governance.

BobMbx on February 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Sadly, we all know this. Regular low-info Americans don’t! All O has to do is a couple of speeches (itinerary/speeches TBD), the puppy press does a number and once again it is the dang Rs that are so obstructionist.

The Rs still won’t learn the messaging problem they have!

CoffeeLover on February 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM

People who know all about the Kardashians but who can’t name the Speaker of the House have no business being allowed to vote.

wildcat72 on February 8, 2013 at 12:42 PM

BobMbx on February 8, 2013 at 12:35 PM

No, I think it is going to happen. The cuts are already scheduled. If in 18 months the Dems aren’t even prepared to discuss this issue then the GOP has no motivation to help them by delay. Quite the opposite is true. The GOP should be energized about going into budget talks after sequestration.

Happy Nomad on February 8, 2013 at 12:43 PM

How many quarters are in a sequester?

/Average Obama voter

Christien on February 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Other senators said the party so far has not agreed on the balance of tax hikes and spending cuts in a package, on how big the package would be or on how much of the sequester it would replace.

The Democrats may be in a bit of disarray right now but we’re only a few more “balanced approach” speeches and the State of the Union Address from Obama away from the Democrats proposing “closing loopholes” and other tax increases on the “rich” and some token cuts in the rate of spending increases that will be hailed by the media and used again to demagogue the GOP as the party of the “rich” willing to hold the prosperity of the children and the poor hostage to the Democrat plan that cannot fail to unleash prosperity on the land.

And then Boehner will cave.

gwelf on February 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

The Democrats may be in a bit of disarray right now but we’re only a few more “balanced approach” speeches and the State of the Union Address from Obama away from the Democrats proposing “closing loopholes” and other tax increases on the “rich” and some token cuts in the rate of spending increases that will be hailed by the media and used again to demagogue the GOP as the party of the “rich” willing to hold the prosperity of the children and the poor hostage to the Democrat plan that cannot fail to unleash prosperity on the land.

And then Boehner will cave.

gwelf on February 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Boehner is already practicing his “cave” speech……

dddave on February 8, 2013 at 12:54 PM

And then Boehner will cave.

gwelf on February 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

That’s what has me worried. And you’re right that the SOTU is PBHO’s perfect opportunity to demagogue this thing to death.

MJBrutus on February 8, 2013 at 12:57 PM

How many quarters are in a sequester?

/Average Obama voter

Christien on February 8, 2013 at 12:46 PM

4-15 min quarters I think

cajunpatriot on February 8, 2013 at 12:59 PM

They’ve blown smoke for so long that there is none left in their smoke generator and they must either fish or cut bait. Because of their total incompetence and their inability to solve the problem they have only two options . . . ignore it and let the world collapse around our ankles, or continue to kick it down an infinitely long road. Why do we keep electing these useless bums?

rplat on February 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Behold the Power of Urkel(tm)

Key West Reader on February 8, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Why do we keep electing these useless bums?

rplat on February 8, 2013 at 1:02 PM

ObamaPhone!

/Keep Obama in Preznit

Key West Reader on February 8, 2013 at 1:10 PM

But….John Q public has less in their paychecks. One woman asked Chicago J to “give a sista a break”. The low info folk believe O lied about only the rich being taxed. They don’t know the difference between SS and income taxes, nor do they know what the tax holiday meant. No one in the public are talking about tax hikes, because low info folks and young libs now believe they’ll get hit again (at least the ones I know and warned). Boehner better not screw this up. No new taxes!

skeeterbite on February 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Barry doesn’t have any “new” ideas. He can’t think outside the socialist box.

GarandFan on February 8, 2013 at 1:47 PM

They’re just mad Republicans won’t play their stupid game.

supernova on February 8, 2013 at 12:16 PM

I firmly believe that no one in Washington thought Obama would get reelected, including himself. Dems in the Senate thought they would have to work against a Rep House and a Rep President, and now that they own it, they don’t know what to do.

cptacek on February 8, 2013 at 1:56 PM

Quasi O/T: Some further reasons to stop the Hagel nomination for DoD in its tracks.
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/340169/hagel-toast-andrew-c-mccarthy

onlineanalyst on February 8, 2013 at 1:58 PM

What? I didn’t hear anything about this on the “news!” This has to be some kind of right wing plot to make the President look bad./s

Vince on February 8, 2013 at 2:02 PM

So where are the trolls blabbering about they won and we lost?

itsspideyman on February 8, 2013 at 9:48 PM