Okay, so here’s today’s edition of what Brian Beutler has labeled GOP “sequester NIMBYism.”
A group of nearly 30 House Republicans (and a few Democrats) has written a letter to the Obama administration protesting implementation of the sequester. They claim the federal government — because of the sequester — is requiring a refund of money that has “already been disbursed to states,” which is unfair, because those funds “are already being used for rural schools, emergency services, infrastructure, and protecting communities from the risk of catastrophic wildfire.”
Whether these Republicans are right on the merits — and perhaps they are — this is yet another reminder of the degree to which Republicans are chafing at the sequester cuts (which some of them claim they wanted all along) when they hit programs these lawmakers like.
(For one of the best examples of this, see GOP Rep. Steve Stockman, who recently warned against sequester cuts to NASA because the agency “fulfills one of the few legitimate functions of government.” The proof of this? The “near hit by an asteroid.” Naturally, NASA’s Johnson Space Center is in Stockman’s district.)
Republicans continually say the sequester is a victory for them, while acknowledging that it is substantively terrible and must be replaced with “better” cuts.
Yet as one Democrat points out, what keeps getting lost in the discussion is that virtually all House Republicans voted for the Paul Ryan budget, which would simply wipe out truly huge swaths of the kind of spending Republicans are now protesting in the sequester. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities concluded about last year’s Ryan plan, “by 2050, most of the federal government aside from Social Security, health care, and defense would cease to exist.” Other than in the areas of Social Security, health care, and defense, the analysis concluded, “the rest of government would largely have to disappear.”
CBPP has since said this year’s Ryan plan is “just as extreme,” with spending cuts that are “just as massive.”
When you step back and look at the bigger picture, this is just crazy. Republicans voted near-unanimously for a fiscal blueprint that would decimate much of the normal functioning of government, all in service of the goal of “balancing the budget in 10 years.” But now they are calling out for relief when obscure programs — funding for rural schools, asteroid monitoring, etc. — are threatened.
The deeply farcical nature of this is important, and shouldn’t be dismissed as business as usual. This is another way in which — as Rachel Maddow noted last night — today’s Republicans have become “post policy” and are only interested in positioning themselves politically in opposition to the president, rather than being “actually invested in any particular outcome for the country.” Actually, scratch that. This shows Republicans are invested in a particular policy outcome. Even if they did vote for a budget that purports to wipe away huge chunks of the federal government (without specifying in meaningful detail how), it turns out Republicans vociferous oppose spending cuts they don’t like.