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Friday, October 28, 2016

WASHINGTON — The deficit that should concern us most right now has to do with time, not money. Money can be recouped. Time just disappears.

And time is what Washington is wasting now on an utterly artificial crisis driven not by economics but by ideology, partisan interest and an obsession over a word — “sequester” — that means nothing to most Americans.

Here is the most important thing about the battle raging in the capital over $85 billion in automatic spending cuts: Republicans are losing the argument but winning the time war.

The more time we spend on pointless disputes about budget cuts no one is expected to make soon, the less we spend trying to solve the problems that confront us right now — and, God forbid, thinking about the future.

Moreover, the 2012 election gave President Obama new authority and new energy. Republicans want to place as much distance between themselves and that election as they possibly can. From their perspective, the more months we fritter away on these dumb, fake emergencies, the better. As Obama’s clout slowly diminishes, so will his opportunities to press his own priorities.

If Washington can be kept in a state of partisan paralysis, Republicans stand to gain more. The voters hoped that by settling certain questions in 2012, they could push the politicians toward problem solving. Some Republicans in their heart of hearts even want this to happen. But if gridlock retains its icy grip on government, the president will ultimately suffer because it is members of his constituency who will be most demoralized by the failure of their votes to change anything.

The confrontation over the sequester should be seen for what it is: a hangover from a different period when a different political majority was temporarily ascendant. In 2011, Obama was fighting for his political life. Republicans had just seized the House and cut into the Democrats’ majority in the Senate.

The debt-ceiling clash was the product of that midterm election and of a victorious Tea Party that made slashing federal spending the one and only priority. The sequester was a temporary way out of the impasse that political moment created. Both sides agreed to a package of cuts in domestic and military spending assumed to be so unpalatable that eventually the contending parties would come to their senses and make a deal.

  • There was talk of the Nuclear Option. I think it’s time to enact it.

    • old_blu

      Yeah we should drop one on congress and glass em.

  • nobsartist

    Time has been wasting since 2001.

    Nuke the republiCONs.

    Throw the Koch brothers in prison for terrorist activities as they have single handed terrorized our economy.

  • The only positive thing about deficit spending, borrowing, and out of control increases in the national debt is that the party that told us for decades that deficit spending was not a problem finally realizes it is likely to destroy us from within.
    Unfortunately, that realization has not yet turned into tangible action or even viable proposals on how to solve our fiscal problems, other than repeating the same claims that put us in the pickle we are in.
    The time for excuses and smoke and mirrors is over. We either do something designed to solve our problems, which should include spending reductions, tax increases, and investment, or we might as well shut up and go down with the ship.
    The recent tax increases, which were too small and affected only the top 1%, are not enough to make a dent on the budget, and spending cuts alone will not do the trick, unless they are so severe that instead of worrying about the budget and the debt we have to worry about where the next meal is going to come from. We need public and private sector investment to get us out of the mess we are in. Unfortunately, since the public has been convinced that public sector investment is evil socialism and something to be avoided at all cost, that is unlikely to happen. To make matters worse, private sector investment is limited to building new plants and service centers abroad, instead of in the USA, where they are desperately needed.
    In the midst of all this, we remain fixated on evil Muslims and the need to arm ourselves to the teeth to make sure we can protect ourselves from each other. Come to think of it, what we really need are huge mental institutions with tens of thousands of psychiatrists. Maybe that’s where the future lies…

    • RSDrake

      Good analysis and excellent satire. I would add that we need to dial back the Defense Department. There is plenty of waste there. Unfortunately, the waste won’t be cut, but personnel probably will be via furloughs. It is a strategy that will incite people to call Congress to get the funds restored. I hope Hagel has enough savvy to cut the right stuff.

      • browninghipower

        The goopers have Fox…the Defense Department has the Military Channel, that continues to sell the bullshit that the B-1 bomber is one of the greatest bombers/weapons system ever!

        • RSDrake

          It gets worse. We’ve spent a ton of money of the F-22. In exercises against the German AF, their planes flew as well as the F-22 and they spent a hell of a lot less for a relatively unsophisticated fighter. Now comes the F-35 and the changes keep piling on and it will be so sophisticated, it will be unaffordable for the support tail … unless we borrow more and add to the debt.

          Ruger 77 Benchrest 40 power Weaver Scope.

          BTW, none of our gun stores have ammo, primers, bullets, or powder …

    • old_blu

      You are right again Dominick, I think we need to punish companies for going over seas and reward them somehow for building here in the United States. I don’t know how but I think that’s what needs to be done.

      • sigrid28

        The current tax code favors these practices. “Closing loopholes” might encompass both of the useful policies you suggest.

        • idamag

          Sigrid, you can see how the party who ran of debt reductin by closing loopholes is fighting to save the loopholes for the wealthy.

    • Lisztman

      In 1860, James Petigru (1789-1863) commented, on the secession of South Carolina, that South Carolina was “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” This might presently apply to any number of states (especially those wherein significant numbers are calling for secession).

      But the asylum option is right up there in line with your comment… Although I’m contemplating official retirement, maybe I SHOULD go back to school and do the medical thing. Either that or open up my own private rifle range (available, of course, for rental to individuals who like to trot out their manhood in public).

      • Hahahahaha, I can just see it now. All the bets on whether they can hit some individual’s (really small manhood ;P), you got scopes that powerful? Be like tryin to shoot a humming bird with a bazooka at fifteen feet

    • adriancrutch

      25% of the prisoners of the world are here in the U.S.A.!

    • While they might realize the scope of their actions they are NOT ready to accept responsibility for them NOR are they ready to do something to fix them. Hence they really DO NOT CARE about anyone but themselves and as long as they can gerrymander their existence they do not have to care.

    • We’re already in the nuthouse, it just so happens to be a nuthouse that the inmates are in control of.

      • idamag

        You sure have that right. Look at Michelle Bauchman and Darrel Issa for two.

    • idamag

      Dominick, I was watching an interview with a tpier and that person said the only thing the Federal Government should provide is armies and be allowed to declare war.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    The GOP may call it “sequestration.” What most Americans are about to experience is the Second Coming of A GOP-Inflicted Greater the Great Depression.

    How is cutting defense to the bone or the FAA and other departments not going to cause serious threats to our national security? Aren’t these the GOP Big Bois who support the military industrialists who provide the stability of their GOP state economies?

    The GOP bullies are going to wish they were dead when they’ve finished creating another Republican Great Depression. Hoover must be dancing a jig in his casket.

    • TZToronto

      They are willing to take the whole country down for their flawed ideology. This is unconscionable. The United States has gone so far into needing the central government to run so much of what goes on in the USA that dramatically cutting almost anything will lead to economic and social ruin.

    • I sincerely hope that they crash and burn very soon.

  • old_blu

    I have become numb with the Republicans holding us hostage on every little thing that comes accross their desks. You know they are going to wait until the last minute to do anything AGAIN.

    Right now they have 8 days I’ll bet (my best friends money) that it gets done in 7.5.

    • neeceoooo

      It will be one of those last minute issues.

      • We need to be especially vigilant if it comes downt to another last minute deal.When it happened in late December,Mitch McConnel attempted to attach a rider that would give bio-tech giant Amgen,what would amout to being a “get out of jail free card,with cetain unseemly tax advantages that would allow them to recoup the civil and criminal fines they were ordered to pay for thier fraud conviction last year.To the tune of in excess of $739 million.I don’t think I need to tell you who would get to pay for that and yet that sorry piece of crap continues to rule the house. Isn’t there a part of the Constitution that says the people can and do have a responsibility to use whatever means necessary to remove and replace the government or those persons within,when it or they have become burdensome and unresponsive to the needs of the people?

        • idamag

          I’m not one who is interested in the lives of celebrities, but Go Ashley judd.

    • latebloomingrandma

      What a way to run the greatest country on earth. How long will that title hold with these shananigans going on year after year? Why would other countries want to emulate our “democracy” when they witness what’s going on here? There are no adults in the Republican party.

      • old_blu

        Pretty embarrassing huh?

    • Siegfried Heydrich

      No. They’re committed. If they cave, their base will go up like a bonfire, and the party leadership will have been shown to be a toothless tiger. The civil war they are waging will stop being so civil, and the party will more than likely shatter on the spot. There is only one thing unifying the two factions, and that is their hatred of and opposition to President Obama. If the party leadership reaches an agreement, it will be on Obama’s terms, and that will not, cannot be tolerated. They would rather die a thousand deaths than compromise at this point.

      They are hoist on their own petard while simultaneously being impaled on the horns of their self created dilemma. If only I could slice, package, and market the irony here . . .

  • ChristoD

    What is this Dooms Day Thursday ? Snap to it people ! If you let the ass—– get you down, they win and there is no f—– way that is going to happen on our watch. Face ’em down Mr. President and then move on to the next battle recognizing that this is the way it is going to be until 2014 when we need to do everything possible to win the house back. Hop to it folks !

    • bandrulz

      And the longer they play this game, the more likely the voters are to remember that the
      R’s are the problem and get rid of them.

      • Siegfried Heydrich

        I think they’re in complete denial of the fact that their base is shrinking while the demographics that support progress are growing. And yes, the voters will remember, especially as the Republicans become more strident and desperate. However, I don’t think the GOP grip will be broken until 2016 or even 2020. I do see the GOP retreating to a regional rump party centered in the old confederacy, determined to resist the tide of time to their dying breath.

    • sigrid28

      Contemplating the size of the population of the U.S. and its resources, the Democratic majority now and in the future, I feel confident we can wait out this beltway Kabuki and move on. Remembering how many of us struggle day-to-day to make ends meet, while troops overseas undergo excruciating risks daily without Congress shouldering its responsibilities while it runs out the clock, I feel desperate. A group of less than a hundred people is toying with the well-being of millions here and tens of thousands in Afghanistan. For us, it is a life-and-death matter. For them, it is a rigged wrestling match–they are almost completely insulated from the consequences of their inaction.

      It may be that the Democratic party must do more than send out the president and his surrogates. Until the sequester is behind us, I wish the Democratic party would pay for thirty minutes of prime time daily, fifteen minutes of the vacant House and fifteen minutes of the vacant Senate, with scrolling lists describing the consequences of the sequester running over footage of these empty chambers and with a voice-over reiterating its dire consequences of the sequester. We should interrupt “American Idol” and other prime time programming, as a public service, because the outcome of the inaction of Congress can cause as great as or worse destruction to our country than Hurricane Sandy, for which all regularly scheduled programming came to a halt.

      • ChristoD

        sigrid28 I feel your pain. As a retired 69 year old professional manager/executive who has paid his dues, and then some, I am enjoying a reasonably good retirement and I have concluded that the fight is not about me, or people like me, it is about our children and grandchildren and folks like you that I have joined the fight. Folks like me can only assure you that we will do whatever we can to stay the course that our PROGRESSIVE democracy has been on for over 200 years. Our democracy is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but the reason why the right is fighting this DESPERATE holding action is that they see their vision of America rapidly slipping away and are doing everything they can to stem the tide. Most on the right are good people who really believe in their vision but are incapable of seeing why MOST PROGRESSIVE programs have been the reason for the boom that this country has enjoyed through the years. As such they are easily enraged by the talking media heads, the likes of which I have not seen in my lifetime. Our reaction to this should be to seize the high ground and stay the course and we will rule the day and our future. Not fancy words but a strategic direction that we must not lose sight of as we deal with the daily frustrations that our Republican brothers and sisters are putting us through. But stay the course we must. Hang tough sigrid28, your words identify you as a worthy soldier in the fight…..hang tough.

        • sigrid28

          You must forgive me if I find it hard to take comfort in your confidence in a workable solution. You fault “fancy words” as a progressive strategy while acknowledging that the “fancy words” coming from the far right “talking media heads . . . easily” enrage Republican partisans. We need more than aspirations in OUR arsenal. Hopefully, the pen will be mightier than the sword. I’m very unhappy with the media on the Left that is not sufficiently loudly or eloquently notifying the public of this immanent national disaster.

          As for contacting our legislators, a progressive friend of mine sent a letter to Harry Reid six weeks before January 2nd, the only day when Senate rules could have been amended. In his letter, my friend made the case for revising the filibuster. He sent his letter six weeks in advance because that is how long it takes for mail to get through security and be processed for American lawmakers. You see the result of my friend’s letter: the Right is so outrageous in its behavior that the Left in the Senate has to retain the filibuster as it is to hold Republicans in check. Harry Reid is one of the legislators on the front line of the struggle to save the economy and possibly the democracy. Six weeks! How can the Left convey any sense of urgency with its hands tied in this way?

          You might think there are good people on the right. I’m beginning to lose my faith in human nature on the Right, as its leadership subscribes to a policy of mendacity while its constituents stubbornly cling to a doctrine of bigotry, hatred, and anti-science. They are a matched pair inside the conservative bubble, ripe for manipulation. If they ever believe they cannot survive, we on the left will have to have the nerve to let them self-destruct. Desperate fighters are dangerous opponents, because they have nothing to lose. This may be the impasse we have come to now with the sequester in Washington.

          If not, some of us who do not have employment or a comfortable retirement will have to grit our teeth and endure REAL hardship while fifty or so legislators play out this end game over and over again for the next two years. Why is there no way to inhibit this downward spiral?

          • Sigrid,I don’t want to merely watch or let them self destruct,I want to encourage and help that process to occur as quickly as possible.I think a massive citizens march on and occupation of Capital Hill is in order.Those insufferable assholes need to feel the peoples rage.

          • plc97477

            I kinda think electing Barak was the rope to hang themselves with.

      • plc97477

        not completely insulated, every time they mess up they lose a few more voters.

    • neeceoooo


  • TheSkalawag929

    The republicans are like the Ferengi from Star Trek.

    Their only motivation is profit. No profit. No movement.

  • The GOP and the Speaker are now trying to play the blame game; as usual all of the ills of this world are the fault of our Pressident. They presume that most of us do not know basic civics, that the House is responsible for the federal budget.

    • Siegfried Heydrich

      Sadly, their Fox educated base know virtually nothing of 10th grade civics or the constitution beyond what Fox tells them.

  • It’s time to send a clear message in 2014 and get rid of Boehner once and for all.

    • neeceoooo

      That is probably easier said than done, the republican party is pretty good at gerrymandering.

    • Is it O.K. for us to kill him and the rest?

      • idamag


        • I think the answer should be “Not Yet” and they may bring it on themselves by continuing to jeopardise our government and predate upon the people.

  • mah101

    One exception I have with EJ Dionne’s article is his implication that the Tea Party members were elected to cut taxes and have focused on that goal since 2010. They certainly have focused on that goal, but as I recall the election of 2010 the issue that got them support was JOBS. They have taken the tax cut issue and deficit reduction issue on in great disproportion to the importance it may have had in their election. Yet they have done precious little about the jobs issue on which they were elected.

    In essence, they misrepresented themselves to gain control, then hijacked the government for their own purposes.

    • sigrid28

      In addition, Tea Party Republicans also tried to pass legislation to limit women’s health choices and repeal the ACA, tying up the House with legislation dead on arrival in the Democratic Senate. They didn’t campaign on demolishing Medicare (because who would elect them if they did so) but voted for Paul Ryan’s budgets designed to do just that. The bait-and-switch tactics of the Republican party have undermined the good faith of millions of voters, and yet Republicans in the House and Senate–and many state legislatures–persist in them nonetheless. I think even low-information voters understand this deception. Certainly, centrist Republicans and Independents do. E. J. Dionne focused on the just one of things GOP candidates promised–jobs–and neglected, rather than including in his piece as well the many other unpopular initiatives Republicans have advanced without telling voters of their intention to do so. I guess.

    • plc97477

      so what else is new?

    • idamag

      I remember, thier big push was taxes and smaller government.

  • All President Obama has to do is to invoke the 14th Amendment as Harry Truman did, and raise
    the limit. The stupid Republicans will go into shock when ther President does this, and he will go
    to the Public and justify his action by specifically naming each and every Republican to tried to
    hold the Government and We the People hostage.

    • I’d be interested in seeing that if it comes down to it,just to get the progressive ball rolling.

      • Mark,

        If I am not mistaken, former President Bill Clinton has already advised President
        Obama to take that action. Way back when Clinton was President, Newt (good ol’
        boy) Gingrich, was then the Republican Speaker of the House, and tried to cut
        Medicare, but Clinton vetoed Newt’s Bill. Well, Newt was incensed, knowing he
        could not garner the necessary votes to overcome the veto, so he tried to put Clinton against the wall by freezing the federal budget. Clinton outfoxed Newt by borrowing money from the civil service retirement fund (later paid back) to keep the government running. The public rightfully blamed Newt and not Clinton for this political fiasco. Later on when they tried to impeach Clinton because of the Lewinsky affair, Newt got up in Congress and loudly accused Clinton of being an adulterer – the Pot calling the Kettle black, because all the while Newt was having an affair, later divorced his wife, remarried and carried on another affair, and again
        remarried. And that my friend is how the loosers play their dirty game. They obstructed Obama during his first term, and continue with the same tactics.
        The question is – how do We the People, put a stop to this? My answer. Limit the terms of ALL members of Congress to eight years as we limit the term of the President, and go to Public Financing for all elections, county, state and national level, putting a limit of $5,000.- on contributions per candidate and party. We
        must insist on a reversal of the Supreme Court’s stupid Citizens United decision,
        put a stop to Super Pacs, large donations by the Koch Brothers, Casino Owners,Big Business, the Chamber of Coomerce, Unions, etc. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt clearly and aptly said: ” We are standing for the great fundamental rights upon which all successful free governments must be based.We are standing
        for elementary decency in politics. We are fighting for honesty against naked robbery. It is not a partisan issue, it is more than a political issue; it is a great
        moral issue. If we condone political theft, if we do not resent the kinds of wrongs and injustice that injuriously affect the whole nation, not merely our democratic
        form of government but our civilization cannot endure.” Yep. Teddy also called Big Money – “Traitors to the People.” We, All of Us, MUST bluntly tell ALL of our Representatuives in Congress, and I do mean ALL, to stop the nonsence, get to
        work, or GO.
        We the People, MUST take back OUR Government.

        • I think that your proposals are right on.However,trying to get all that done,minus an extreme and overpowering show of force might be like spitting into the wind given the type of obstructionism we have been encountering.Otherwise,I don’t think that I could agree with you more.

          • No Mark it won’t be easy. But then again life is not easy, which leaves us just two options-continue taking the hit, or Fight Back.
            Having spent 43 years with the US Army., I am inclined to Fight.
            It may even turn out to be fun, because it is time for the mouse to kick the elefant in the ass. In spite of the attempts to disenfrancize American citizens of their Right to Vote, the people came out and voted, and in doing so, defeated the Big Money boys, whose names we all know. They spent close to a Billion Dollars and got ZERO in return. It will be hard, that’s true, but all we need to really do is, to UNITE, Make OUR VOICED heard loud and CLEAR, and let those in Congress know, either OUR WAY or
            the HIGHWAY.

          • plc97477

            what everyone on this site should do is try to talk one person in your life to vote dem. I have done it so I know it can be done

        • plc97477

          I like the idea of getting rid of citizens united, the sooner the better, but I am not sure I like term limits. When you get a good one you don’t want to get rid of them too soon

  • charleo1

    You know Dionne is right when he points out this sequester thing, was a bad idea caused by some
    really stupid people. But, I think we have to look at how these really stupid people ever got into positions of power in the first place. And for that, we need to look at some very clever people, doing
    some very dishonest things. But to be fair, they had just watched their President, and an economic
    policy that had taken them years to put into place, self destruct, near the eve of an election that was
    supposed to anchor their Party into the leadership positions at all levels. Where they could then
    consolidate that power, and rule the United States for the next hundred years. Everywhere they
    looked, they saw opportunities for the taking. The wave of nationalism following the 9/11 attacks,
    catapulted their President to unheard of levels of support. Both Congress, and the press were
    mortified to challenge him. Lest we were to be attacked again, and careers could be ruined.
    An already Conservative Supreme Court, with four aging Liberals, held the promise of blessing
    even the most radical of Constitutionally troubled legislation. The keys to the Kingdom, and the
    hundred year reign, had been crystal clear to the Neocons since the first Gulf War. Iraq, and it’s
    second only to Saudi Arabia, oil reserves would finance the entire operation. So, they all must
    have been wondering, how something that seemed to close, so perfect, could blow up in their faces.
    And now, this, “Negro,” this Harvard lawyer, and former community organizer, was to be President? Some politicians, especially from the Old South, could hardly contain their rage.
    The economic collapse, screamed in their faces, the multiple failures of Reagan. His nonsensical
    supply side, theories, and huge deficit spending, that masked the fundamental, wrongheadedness, of heaping great stores of wealth in the coffers of a few hands at the top, at the expense of jobs, and wages. Then, favor these few, by sending the debts of the Country down to the States, and finally to
    the working class, to pay as best they can. And the Congress they had ruled as they pleased, for more than 10 years, was gone, because they had been wrong on the economy, and the war, and could no longer deny it. Not that they are still not trying to convince us. Why is the Republican Party the stupid Party? The Party of uneducated dolts, turned ideological idiots? I really don’t know. For many years, I thought everyone loved this Country. And had honest disagreements about what they believed would be best for it. The last few years have caused me to have some very serious doubts about that assumption. And I don’t believe I’m alone on this.

    • You are not alone in your thinking,far from it.I congratulate you on your grasp of recent history and its fallout,and the clarity and exactness of expression.Thank You

      • charleo1

        Thank you Mark! Such great people on this site. I am inspired daily.

    • idamag

      You are not alone.

  • I think the president should let it happen just like Clinton did. The republicans and teaparty people are betting on the president to give in because of his love for the american people but this time he should just stand his ground. They have to get the message the hard way, he won the election and he is tired of them playing around with him and saying no to everything he wants done. One minute they say don’t want to work with the president and then the next minute they are crying and whinning he won’t call them or invite them to the white house. Well when he did invite them, they refuse to go and talk down to him and now they feel left out. They hate the idea that he is not a party man who will sit down with them everyday and drink instead of going home to his wife and children like family men are suppose to do. Maybe if more of them went home to their wives, there would be less affairs and children born out of wedlock. Isn’t it odd that the samegroup of people who have a nerve to talk about single parent are in themselves contribing to single parenthood.

    These are same ones who want to do away with abortions, civil rights laws, women rights, minium wages and anything that is good for people sound like they should have been born in the era of slavery times because that is what all their ideas amount too. They would be unhappy with anything thatis good forthe american people.

  • For ple97477: Yes, we don’t like to get rid of the good ones, which is understandable. The great 5 Star General MacArthur was a strategic genious, got releaved & replaced by 4 Star Matt Ridgeway, who did better. When I entered the army in 1948 it was One the Job Training (OJT), which simply meant, learn & do your job, or go. Even the good ones hang on so long that they begin to think the “own” their seats. I volunteered to take over a unit in 1982 that was totally unproductive under the condition that no one tell me how to run it. Within a year it was considered the best of it’s type Army wide, and I ran that unit my way for 7 years, until 1989. In time a problem developed, and the problem was ME, because I was beginning to believe it was MY unit, and not the Army’s unit. Back when the Constitution was ratified, Congress very often could not even get a quorum of delegates to show up with some attending only a few times a year. Perhaps the nation was better off then? However change is definitely needed, so the good have to go with the bad. We need to get rid of the Nitwits & by limiting the terms, going to public financing,
    and putting strict limits on big money paid lobbyists and Super PACs like ALEX, and hopefully we will be able to level the playing field. No, it won’t be easy-but it sure as hell is worth trying. Think about the fun we will have as we watch them screaming like stuck pigs as they are forced to leave office. Maybe insisting that Recall Measures be part of the contracts of all (city,county,state, & federal elected officials), so that the public can petition for recall action against any official who acts contrary to the will of the majority. We have to let them really know that they are there to
    represent The People, and not their own interests, or the interests of those with wealth and those
    on the selfish fringes.

    Mark, Ple97477, and all you others: We Can Do It.