Tomasky suspects that Republicans will suffer politically if the sequestration cuts go into effect:
[I]t sure isn’t going to be looking very responsible to people, as the March 1 sequestration deadline approaches, for Republicans to be going before the cameras and saying that the cuts are unfortunate but necessary medicine, or whatever formulation they come up with. They’ve wanted these spending reductions for two years. It hardly matters much who invented the mechanism for the cuts. What matters, as the Republicans will find out, is that the people don’t want them.
I believe that is indeed Obama’s long game here. The precedent is the Gingrich government shutdown, which stopped his revolution in its tracks and gave Bill Clinton new political life. When cops are furloughed, when scientists complain about research cuts, when the military-industrial complex revs up its lobbying engines, I just don’t see how the sequester works politically for the GOP. It exists entirely because of their fixation on immediate austerity – despite the awful consequences that policy option has spawned in Europe.
But I don’t particularly like the Dems’ and Obama’s approach either. It may be politically savvy – they are going to target all sorts of populist tax loopholes for the very rich as an alternative to cuts, without making a serious effort to reform the insanely complex tax code as a whole. I’m working on a post on the sequester – and why, however crude and dumb, it may well be the least worst option in front of us. Stay tuned.