Which is worse: raising taxes or ceding your biggest and most important power to someone else? Some Senate Republicans would rather be irrelevant than raise taxes. In a couple days, the sequester will force across-the-board spending cuts totaling $85 billion by the end of the fiscal year. Except GOP senators are now floating a bill that would require the same $85 billion to be cut, while giving President Obama the authority to decide what gets cut, Politico's Manu Raju reports. That sounds more reasonable than you might think — instead of furloughing 800,000 civilian employees, maybe the Pentagon could cut wasteful Cold War-era programs instead. But the proposal would mean Congress is handing over its most important constitutional responsibility — the power of to decide how tax money is spent.
Why would they support such a thing? Because it shifts the blame for the unpleasant effects of the sequester to Obama. The president has been giving a series of speeches in front of various human props who will be affected by the sequester. If the Senate GOP proposal were to pass, then it would be Obama's fault those human props got a 20 percent cut to their paychecks. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (pictured above center) said, "It’s exactly the right thing to do."
Some Republican senators think that's dumb. These are mostly hawks, because the sequester-replacer would still force $42.6 billion in cuts to the Pentagon. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said, "I don’t care how flexible you want to be, the top-line numbers don’t add up to me on defense. That’s my problem," according to The Hill. Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby said, "You give a president all the power in the world, you’re giving up a lot." A second plan, floated by New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, would require just $10 billion in defense cuts.
Worse, most Republican senators know it's futile. Whatever the Republicans put forward is unlikely to pass. (Neither is what the Democrats put forward, which is a replacement for the first year paid for with a 30 percent minimum tax on millionaires.) "I've never seen so much passion about something that is not going to pass," Corker said Tuesday.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.