Four reasons Republicans are embracing the 'sequester'

Republicans, it is clear, are conflicted on the "sequester." Some, particularly those from districts heavy with military installations and troops, are clawing tooth-and-nail to head off the $85 billion in cuts scheduled to begin March 1. The vast majority, however, say that a 2.4 percent reduction to federal spending – even one as unappealing as the sequester – is better than no reductions at all.

How did Republicans come to embrace the sequester? Here are four reasons.

1. There will be cuts!

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma (far l.) was one of the Republicans who met with reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday to challenge President Obama and the Senate to avoid the 'sequester.'

Republicans' No. 2 complaint about grand deals that purport to reshape government spending is that the tax hikes always occur but spending reductions never happen to materialize. (No. 1 is the fervent belief that tax hikes destroy jobs.)

With $85 billion in cuts in hand this year, under their control, Republicans have real, actual, in-the-law reductions to federal spending. And they aren’t about to let those go – even if they’d prefer the reductions be prioritized (and mostly hit Democratic priorities) instead of the across-the-board version currently in the law.

“We've all said the across-the-board spending reduction is the wrong way to do spending reduction, that it needs to be more targeted,” said Rep. James Lankford (R) of Oklahoma. “We have overspent the federal budget by a trillion dollars now five years in a row. We cannot continue to do that. And so this perpetual statement of let's just postpone it, let's do it another time, let's delay it another month, is the wrong way to do it.”

The 2010 tea party wave that gave House Republicans their majority tried to slash $39 billion in funding right off the bat. They got less than 10 percent of that in their first few months in office, an experience that was a frustrating introduction to Washington politics.

Now, they’ve got a fat round of spending reductions in their sights – and they aren’t about to back down.

1 of 4
of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.