The Rachel Maddow Show | February 20, 2013
>>> november 2010 , republicans win control of the house of representatives . they all get sworn in january 2011 . and within just a few months in the spring of that year, congressional republicans are threatening to shut down the government. at first the common wisdom is they'll never go through with this. and then it was i can't believe they're going through with this. and then with everybody in full crisis mode, compromise was finally reached with just one hour to spare before the shutdown. that was march of 2011 . having barely caught its breath, the government then went through another totally on purpose self-inflicted crisis in july of that year when congressional republicans threatened to not raise the debt ceiling, threatening to not pay the bills the government has already accrued. the country about and the economy again on the brink. hours before that self-imposed economic doomsday for us and the planet, the president announces that a deal has been struck. it was close and unpleasant, and it was all on purpose. that was july. by september, same year, another threatened government shutdown . this time it was the senate that had to find its way back from the edge of catastrophe, but they did it with something like 90 minutes to spare. then this past december, let's all go back to the brink. congressional republicans threatening an avalanche of tax hikes and other recession-inducing budget cuts. it's the fiscal cliff, look out! congressional republicans blew right past the new year's eve deadline and then after the sky was supposed to have fallen, a deal was made shortly thereafter to retroactively avert said disaster. remember all that? well, here we are again, back at the brink again. do brinks wear out if you use them too much? for the seventh time since winning the majority congressional republicans are holding the government sort of hostage. tonight we are nine days away from another self-imposed man made crisis in washington . this one they call the sequester, which is a word i have diligently avoided until now because it makes me liss. we are nine days away from slashing the budget across the board was republicans and democrats both agreed that that should happen, there should be that threat if they couldn't agree on how to lower the deficit by now. everybody agrees that doing this will throw a huge wrench into the gears of the economy. it may throw us back into recession. but the agreed upon economy-smashing crisis nine days away is not a problem that is going to happen on its own. it's a solvable problem. it's a man-made problem and has a man-made solution. it's solvable because everybody agrees on one thing. everyone in washington agrees that this is a stupid idea, this sequester, like really stupid, like wearing a hat made of meat into a lion cage stupid. like googling santorum while your grandma looks over your shoulder stupid. it is stupid and everybody knows it. republicans , business leaders and economists, they have already said that these cuts known here in washington as sequestration are a bad idea.
>> if the looming sequester strikes, 70,000 young children would be kicked off headstart. 10,000 teacher jobs will be at risk.
>> let me make clear i don't like the sequester.
>> i think we should in bipartisan fashion stop sequestration before in the words of the secretary of defense destroys the pentagon.
>> everybody hates this thing. but in addition to hating this thing and agreeing that it is a bad idea, it would be very bad for the country and we shouldn't do it, they also all agree that it's the other guy's fault. president obama held a press conference this week in which he said it was the republicans holding the country hostage. meanwhile, republicans have tried to make this a household word, obamaquester. john boehner really wanted to lay the sequester at the feet of the president, the obamaquester, they want you to call it. it might have worked if it were true. the daily beast uncovered this power point slide from a year and a half ago, using it to try to sell republicans on the sequester deal. this power point presentation boasting about all the ways that sequestration was good for republicans , and how they, republicans should vote for it because there was a lot to like, because it look, sets up a new sequestration process to cut spending across the board. we like that. vote for that. maybe we should call it the boehnerquester, the quester of the house? maybe the p-90x quester. at the same time boehner was giving his power point presentation telling republicans they had to go along with it, paul ryan was bragging to fox news that this was a win for republicans and conservatives.
>> what conservatives like me have been fighting for for years are statutory caps on spending. legal caps in the law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money. and if they breach that amount across the board sequester comes in to cut that spending and you can't turn that off without a super majority vote. we got that in law.
>> we got that in law. we've been fighting for that. fast forward to now and paul ryan is thinking the opposite. now he is saying he doesn't like the idea. and it's the president's problem, the president's own making.
>> it's the president who first proposed the sequester.
>> everybody hates this upcoming made-up crisis, which is good, because there is a seriously simple solution to this universally reviled, universally acknowledged as dumb thing. we could not do it. crazy, right? congress has the ability to just not do it. just turn the darn thing off. it's very simple. and it is one very clear thought that is missing from this debate. it is the elephant/donkey in the room. am i missing something here? if we all think it would be bad for the country, why don't we not do it? there is one person who i think can explain to us why this is not happening already. his name is ezra klein , an he joins us next. es.