I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard this much talk about the word “sequester” since season 5 of “The Simpsons” when Homer purposely deadlocked the jury to be “sequestered” in the “Springfield Palace Hotel” to “get a free room, free food, free swimming pool, free HBO!”
While all the media talk centers around the definition of the legal procedure of automatic spending cuts triggered by the passing of the Budget Control Act of 2011, I thought we could take a look at some of the other meanings of the word in the context of Republicans looking for their own definition in the most recent political showdown.
#1 – Se•ques•ter: to remove or separate
In what might be the most difficult challenge of this current economic battle, Republicans need to separate themselves from being seen as responsible for the impending cuts which will occur after the March 1 deadline. While there is much talk of who is to blame for the original idea of the sequester, I don’t find it wise for the Republicans to sit back and assume that the President and the Democrats will be held responsible for the cuts and subsequent government shutdown.
Although the 2011 legislation was proposed by the President, it received bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Also, Republicans have been hawkish on the overspending and recklessness of Obama and the democrats. When the cuts kick in, it will be hard for Republicans not to be stuck with the outweighing bad effects. Let’s not forget we have a President with complete control over a mainstream media that will be complicit in his attempts to paint the Republicans as obstructionists and unwilling to compromise.
This isn’t the Fiscal Cliff, which Republicans poorly separated themselves from. I and others felt the best strategy would have been to go over the cliff and make the Democrats own the problems in the long term. Unfortunately, Republicans couldn’t find the intestinal fortitude to take the plunge. The sequester is different in that Republicans will have no choice but to be blamed if it is not resolved. This is also an opportunity for Republicans to be bold and turn the tables.
#2 – Se•ques•ter: to take possession or control of
Ok, so I’m taking a little liberty with this definition, but the point is still the same – take control and own the issue and make the Democrats the bad guys, for once.
My initial reaction on how to pull this off seemed a little unorthodox – give control of spending over to the Democrats to make the bad decisions and then make them take the blame. As the idea was rattling around in my head, I then read a Wall Street Journal article by the Architect himself, Karl Rove, who was giving similar advice (not sooo crazy after all, I guess).
So with influence from Mr. Rove, here’s the plan:
Pass a continuing resolution to fund the government for the remainder of the year at the level of the sequester. Add language in the resolution which (1) defines the level of Defense Appropriations and (2) gives flexibility to the President to move funds to more vital government programs.
Republicans may need to concede cuts to some of their favored programs, but it will also allow the opportunity to make the President and the Democrats the bad guys, while Republicans keep their promise to lower government spending.
Additionally, if Obama chooses his more liberal programs to fund, it is sure to keep the Republican base as well as many moderates and independents together against the choices made by the President. Either way, it becomes their problem to work out who to keep happy, not ours.
Now, Republicans will still need to stay vigilant on their message, but at the very least, there is a much craved for message to present to the American people – a message steeped in a unifying idea that government spends too much and is out of control.
#3 – Se•ques•ter: to retire into seclusion
Which is where message-less Republicans are headed if we run the risk of losing many more economic battles…