POLITICS

Morning Examiner: Republicans winning sequester fight despite themselves

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

On Tuesday, President Obama held an almost comical sky-is-falling press event in the White House warning that houses will burn, terrorists will invade, planes will fall out of the sky, and schools will collapse if the federal government cuts spending by a mere 2 percent. The proper response would have been to mock Obama as crazy 21st century Mayan profit of doom, but instead Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, played right into Obama’s hands writing in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, that the sequester “threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.”

The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York outlined why this is such a terrible message: “Why would Republicans support a measure that threatens national security and thousands of jobs? … Why would Boehner adopt the Democratic description of the cuts as “deep” when they would touch such a relatively small part of federal spending? The effect of Boehner’s argument is to make Obama seem reasonable in comparison.”

Fortunately for Boehner and the Republicans, Senate Democrats have begun to realize that there is zero chance Republicans will agree to tax hikes to undo the sequester. Even better, they seem to be operating under the fantasy that Republicans will cave on tax hikes if the Democrats threaten to shut down the government when the continuing resolution expires March 27th. The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent reports:

Democrats no longer see the sequester as sufficient to force Republicans to cave on new revenues; rather, they increasingly see the looming government shutdown deadline of March 27th as the real means for them to force a GOP surrender. The idea is that the sequester isn’t as dramatic a deadline as the fiscal cliff and debt ceiling deadlines were.

“The sequester doesn’t have that immediate shock value,” a senior Senate Democratic aide tells me. “It’s not the kind of thing where people wake up on March 1st and realize it happened. It doesn’t have the sort of acute impact that the fiscal cliff or debt ceiling did. We need a harder backstop to really force this fight.”

That “harder backstop” is the threat of a government shutdown, which gets the attention of the public — and with the GOP brand in trouble, Dems hope, it will be hard for Republicans to cling to their no-revenues-at-any-costs stance. “March is the month where negotiations will really ramp up,” the aide says.

If Sargent’s sources are right, then you should not expect to see the Senate actually vote on the sequester replacement bill they introduced last Thursday. Why bother forcing Red State Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2014 to vote for tax hikes if it’s just for show? Instead, expect the sequester fight to fade into the background as the White House finally releases its 2013 budget and both sides transition to the continuing resolution fight at the end of next month.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Cut role of feds in local police, fire and education
Phil Klein: Ex-Obamacare foe Gov. Rick Scott waves white flag on Medicaid expansion
Michal Conger: Universal Orlando dropping health care for part-time workers, citing Obamacare
Byron York: The GOP’s astonishingly bad message on sequester cuts
Conn Carroll: Federal government controlled 99.3 percent of mortgage market in 2012

In Other News
The New York Times, Chinese cyberspies have hacked most Washington institutions: Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them.
The Wall Street Journal, Senators in Immigration Talks Mull Federal IDs for All Workers: Key senators are exploring an immigration bill that would force every U.S. worker—citizen or not—to carry a high-tech identity card that could use fingerprints or other personal markers to prove a person’s legal eligibility to work.
The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Ups Ante for Spying on Firms: The White House threatened China and other countries with trade and diplomatic action over corporate espionage as it cataloged more than a dozen cases of cyberattacks and commercial thefts at some of the U.S.’s biggest companies.
The New York Times, Amid Questions on Ethics, Battle-Tested Senator Digs In: He has taken to little-used routes in the nation’s Capitol to avoid attention. His allies have hinted at conspiracies hatched against him, perhaps by shadowy enemies in Cuba. And he has even hired a prominent lawyer well versed in Congressional investigations.
Politico, Ashley Judd meets with DSCC: Actress Ashley Judd privately met with officials at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington earlier this week, as she continues to weigh whether to mount a Senate run against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, according to two sources familiar with the session.

Lefty Playbook
Lucia Graves reports that Obama Golfed With Oil Men As Climate Protesters Descended On White House.
Matt Taylor worries that Gov. Cuomo’s plans to run for president in 2016 are hampering his ability to govern New York.
Suzy Khimm
on Obama’s plan to let judges decide whether immigrants convicted of minor crimes should be deported

Righty Playbook
Larry Kudlow on The Pro-Growth Sequester.
Erick Erickson is very disappointed in Rick Scott.
Avik Roy on the losing battle Republican governors are fighting against the federal government.
Andrew Stiles on Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., war on welfare.

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