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Author: sykesix Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 61161  
Subject: Re: Defense-Cut Hypocrisy Date: 2/21/2013 1:07 PM
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It certainly hasn't filtered through to the current administration. If one listens to Panetta; sequestration will gut US defense capabilities.

It is a game of chicken. Sequestration was supposed to be something was so unpleasant that nobody would willingly let it happen. Panetta's comments are an attempt to pre-blame Congress if the cuts come about. Boehner is trying to pre-blame Obama. However, I think Boener has the much weaker hand here. The Sequester preserves Medicaid and Social Security, food stamps, etc. but makes deep cuts to defense and other discretionary spending. Medicare gets a slight cut, but it comes out of the provider's end, not the patients. So if/when the sequester hits, it will mostly affect defense contractors and doctors, which are located in every single Congressional district.

Obama's thinking goes like this: Republicans are against government spending, unless it is government spending that affects their district. Then they are strongly in favor of it. Once defense contractors start laying people off they will start screaming bloody murder for Congress to get something done to restore the money. Same with the doctors. They will want the money restored even if it means a slight tax increase (a small tax increase, by the way, is a fairly popular idea that enjoys broad support even among Republicans).

Boehner's thinking goes like this: Tax increases are bad, and if it comes down to it, the public will accept the defense cuts for a while until the President caves on spending cuts without a tax increase.

A whopping 19% of Americans agree with this line of thinking:

http://www.people-press.org/2013/02/21/if-no-deal-is-struck-...

Next, Boehner is also betting Congressional Republicans won't be influenced by the defense contractors in their district screaming for the restoration of their money and they will hold fast until Obama caves. I don't think that is a good bet. Republican defense hawks are already pushing back:

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/budget-appropriations/2...

A subset of Boehner's thinking is that perhaps the public will primarily blame the President for any pain the Sequester causes, and again that will force the President's hand. I'm not sure that will be the case. Obama is fairly popular right now, while Congress is extremely unpopular. Boehner's talking point is that the Sequester was Obama's idea. First of all that's not true:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/20/the-powerpo...

And Boehner thought it was a *great* idea at the time:

http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/speaker-boehner-stateme...

But even if it was true, a majority of Republicans in both houses including Boehner and McConnell voted for it, so I don't see how they avoid taking at least some ownership of the thing they were once so proud of.

In short, I don't see how Boehner escapes this one. Boehner is hoping that doing unpopular things will help him achieve unpopular goals. And that is why Obama is basically telling him to pound sand.
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