Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sequester break

The sequester event is evidently driving the natives mad, to the point where David Brooks found himself typing a lie so egregious that he was obliged to post a correction, which is as far as I know a unique occurrence in the history of the column, and then submit being taken to the metaphorical woodshed by Ezra Klein, though of course Klein is so courteous and Brooks so fatuous that he may not realize he's been there.* I hope the kids in Humility Class think to ask him how it felt, though.

The Vixen thinks the sequester was a kind of present from Obama to Boehner, a device meant to help the Speaker get some control over his goofy caucus, but too complex, alas, so that he couldn't figure out how to operate it. There's something to that, for sure (note that Boehner did manage to split the Fiscal Cliff into parts and get half of it down, the tax rise half, at the beginning of January—the sequester is what's left).

But I don't think Boehner himself sees it as a gift. I think, in the pattern that's been repeating itself two or three times a year, he begins by believing he's tricked Obama ("I got 98% of what I wanted") and ends up feeling that the tricked one is himself: he's raised his patrons' taxes, the Hastert rule is broken, he failed to defeat Cantor because Cantor didn't even want to run for Speaker, and all he got was this lousy T-shirt. You can already see the outlines of the same thing happening in the next couple of weeks or so: in the deal he's finally forced to accept the chained Consumer Price Index will be hedged round with compensatory machinery, and the Medicare cuts will turn out to be the $137 billion that the CBO just lopped off its projection.
Fen de Villiers, Time Sequestered (wood, plaster, ink). Photo by Tim Peters.
*Brooks also slipped into another reference to a "progressive sales tax", meaning his dread X-tax, which is starting to make him sound like one of those exotic single-issue perpetual presidential candidates, like Pierre "Pete" DuPont and Malcolm "Steve" Forbes. Patrick "Pat" Buchanan. David "Dave" Brooks. Could Brooks really have his eye on those truly vast spaces for entertaining? Or is he just after a gig at CNN?

Afternoon Update:
Second paragraph seems to suggest wrongly that the Happy New Year Fiscal Cliff deal is all that needs to be said about taxes, but it's not, as BooMan reminds us: additional revenue was always part of the deal.

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