I don't generally endorse theories of pathological Democratic weakness, but there really is no other way to see Senate Democrats voting to exclude FAA furloughs from sequestration. As my label-mate Derek Thompson points out
, when you have a Congress that "reacts to flight delays but not to low-income families losing housing vouchers" you have a basic problem of democracy.
Everyone agrees that sequestration is horrible policy. That was the point. Democrats now agree that poor and working people should bear the full brunt of that policy, while Delta Gold members should bear less of it. This is cruelty, or at least the willingness to abide cruelty. From Ezra Klein:
Sequestration was premised on the abiding belief among Democratic power-brokers -- including the president -- that Republicans and Democrats were working with equal pain thresholds. They are not. Obama underestimated his enemies, and now we are going to pay for it.
If I were a Republican moderate (assuming there even are any left) what argument would I have for pulling my my more wayward allies to the table? On sequestration, at least, we all know the Party of Morning Joe is going to eventually fold anyway.
As a CQ / Roll Call reporter tweeted last night, "Make no mistake, this FAA fix is a complete, utter cave by Senate Democrats and, if signed, by the White House." This is a sentiment expressed in other press reports over the last 12 hours, including, Politico: "Democrats blink first on aviation" and Chicago Tribune: "White House Scrambles For Damage Control."
Consider that the Democrats opening position was they would only replace the sequester with tax increases. By the first of this week Senator Reid proposed replacing the whole sequester with phony war savings. And by last night, Senate Democrats were adopting our targeted "cut this, not that" approach.