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Sequestration: The Republican’s Consolation Prize

John Boehner, Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh
AP/Susan Walsh/Stacy Bengs/Reuters/Micah

The good news is Republicans aren’t going to shut down the government, let alone allow the country to default on the national debt, later this year. The bad news is that probably means we’re stuck with sequestration for the foreseeable future.

That’s not to say an equitable or even tolerable alternative to sequestration was ever at hand. But even if it had been, the coming budget fights would make it more difficult for such a plan to clear Congress.

Sequestration has always been a tough problem. Democrats hate what it’s doing to investments across the government, particularly its indiscriminate cuts to programs for the poor and medical research funds. Republicans don’t like it much either. But most of them, including party leaders, are unwilling to consider a replacement that includes even a penny of revenue collected by tightening or closing tax loopholes benefiting top earners. That, and it’s also kind of a trophy for them — a totem they can point to when the tribe becomes depressed to remind of the time they really stuck it to President Obama.

That totemic significance is about to grow and as it grows it will make the task of rescinding the sequestration order more difficult.

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