Jansing and Co | January 29, 2013
>>> new reports this morning that the next deadline for raising the nation's borrowing limit may not come up until august if the senate passes the debt ceiling bill this week. but republicans increasingly believe that the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts in the sequester are going to happen come march 1st .
>> we think these sequesters will happen, because the democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others and they've offered no alternatives.
>> house speaker john boehner recently told "the wall street journal " that the sequester, quote, is as much leverage as we're going to get. but does the gop actually stand to lose more than it gains? i'm joined by " washington post " columnist, and msnbc policy analyst , ezra klein , who has written about this. good morning, ezra.
>> good morning.
>> in one of your columns, you wrote that republicans are wrong to think that the sequester gives them leverage. what's your reasoning?
>> it's just become a somewhat bizarre conversation. look, you have to go back. the sequester, it's a very weird, kind of boring word. it comes out of the debt ceiling deal in 2011 and it was the backup to the supercommittee. and way it was designed, it was originally supposed to be half taxes and half spending cuts. so both sides would be terrified of letting it happen, and because they were so terrified of letting it happen, they would come to a deal. the point of the sequester was to get the two sides to a deal. but republicans wouldn't allow tax increases, even in the sequester. and so they made this weird deal with democrats . and they said, okay, the sequester has to be all spending cuts. but because we're not giving you any taxes, they can mostly be spending cuts you don't mind and that we really hate. so half of the sequester, a full half of it is defense. that is a huge, huge cut to defense. but it's actually worse than that for republicans . medicaid is completely protected from the sequester. social security , completely protected. most low-income programs, completely protected. medicaid beneficiaries, completely protected. veterans benefits , completely protected. pell grants , completely protected. so the sequester is these large spending cuts, but they mostly protect the core democratic priorities, and they concentration incredibly heavily on the spending republicans care about most. and that is because republicans cut this deal in order to not have tax increases in the sequester. so the idea that republicans can trade the democrats for a new sequester that has spending cuts democrats prefer, is ludicrous. the only thing that could trade the sequester for is something that includes tax increases, because the whole point of the sequester in the first place was, they couldn't find spending cuts democrats liked better.
>> and in fact, talking points memo argues that gop leaders have changed their tune since they lost the election.
>> oh, yeah.
>> here's what they wrote. "the contradictory posture suggesting that gop leaders are fronting for conference conservatives who are resttive about their leader's failure to force democrats to accept more cuts to federal spending, it's also a thinly veiled bluff." is it?
>> yeah, you might remember hearing in the election that president obama was haollowing out the military, they were going to prevent the hundreds of millions of cuts that president obama was going to put in. these were not new cuts we were talking about. this is all about the sequester, which is a policy that paul ryan voted for as part of the budget control act. republicans from paul ryan to mitt romney all the way on down spent most of the election in 2012 arguing that the sequester would be a complete disaster, because of what it would do to the military. now they're saying, after they lost the election and after the retreat, that absolutely, they don't mind the sequester at all, it's no big deal , they're happy to let it happen if democrats don't move. in that way, it's become a somewhat transparent bluff, which doesn't mean the bluff won't be called and we won't have the sequester. one thing i should say about the sequester, it's bad policy.
>> what do you think is going to happen?
>> i don't think it will happen for very long. i think it might happen for a year or two. but i think it's bad policy. the cuts are dumb. we should have a mixture of cutting breaks and fixing loopholes and smarter spending. the thing about the sequester, it's very blunt, it's very idiotic, and if it goes into effect, it's a huge failure on the part of republicans in washington.
>> ezra klein , always good to see you. thanks, ezra.
>>> today's tweet of the day comes from former labor secretary, robert reich . "there is one reason and one reason only why the gop now supports immigration reform . 70% of latinos voted for obama." but it's not just latinos who would benefit from immigration reform and