When President Obama designed the sequester back in 2011, he did so with one goal in mind: forcing Republicans to vote for more tax hikes. So now that the sequester is just one week away, and the Republicans still have not budged on their refusal to raise taxes, Democrats are desperate to up the pain the sequester cuts will inflict on the American people.

Hence the opposition from Congressional Democrats to Republican plans that would give Obama maximum flexibility in how to administer the $85 billion in scheduled spending reductions set to begin March 1st. “Those conversations are happening and they’re happening at a leadership level,” a Republican Senate source told The Washington Examiner‘s Joel Gehrke. “The bill would not try to replace the cuts, [but] it would instead give the president maximum authority to prioritize.”

Democrats want to block this effort at all costs and The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent explains why:

At bottom, it is simply a way for Republicans to bait Dems into accepting their insistence on reducing the deficit only through spending cuts. Agreeing to it would represent a total cave on the need for more revenues, which Dems have worked very hard to keep in the deficit reduction mix. This would signal to Republicans that Dems are prepared to accept a cuts-only approach — making it impossible for them to renew any demands for new revenues later. … Agreeing to a cuts-only solution undercuts any leverage Dems can derive from this dynamic. Worse, since these cuts would be allocated by Obama agency heads, the Obama administration would own them.

Both House and Senate Republicans should move swiftly to force votes on a sequester-flexibility bill. Democrat opposition to the effort would perfectly expose that liberals care far more about punishing the rich through higher tax hikes than they do about lowering unemployment or preserving national security.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Greedy class-action lawyers take it on the chin
Philip Klein: Obama’s long record supporting deep defense cuts
Conn Carroll: Big amnesty is big government
Byron York: Budget hawks question Pentagon’s doomsday scenarios

In Other News
The Washington Post, Military leaders decry cuts: After staying largely on the sidelines of the debate over deficit reduction, the U.S. military’s service leaders have begun painting a stark picture of the toll a congressionally mandated budget cut could take on the readiness of the world’s largest armed forces.
Pew, If No Deal is Struck, Four-in-Ten Say Let the Sequester Happen: If the sequester deadline is reached without a deficit agreement between the president and Congress, there is somewhat more support for delaying the cuts than for letting them go into effect (49% vs. 40%). The majority of Democrats (57%) say the cuts should be delayed in this case, while both Republicans and independents are more evenly divided.
The New York Times, States Consider Gun Insurance Rule: Lawmakers in at least half a dozen states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, have proposed legislation this year that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance — much as car owners are required to buy auto insurance. Doing so would give a financial incentive for safe behavior, they hope, as people with less dangerous weapons or safety locks could qualify for lower rates.

Lefty Playbook
Greg Sargent reports that Democrats plan to campaign hard on guns and minimum wage in 2014.
David Dayen gives Dodd-Frank a Triple F Rating.
Benjy Sarlin claims the AFL-CIO/Chamber of Commerce immigration reform press release is a big deal.

Righty Playbook
National Review advises Republican to let the sequester happen but also pass a bill giving Obama more discretion over what is cut.
Avik Roy defends his pro-market health care reforms.
Charles Murray on The shaky science behind Obama’s universal pre-K.
Erick Erickson on The American Conservative Union’s embarrassing scorecard.