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Morning Examiner: Why Republicans are warming to the sequester

If The Washington Post wanted to print an article guaranteed to maximize the chances that House Republicans would stick to their guns and allow the scheduled spending sequester to happen, they could not have done any better than the front page David Fahrenthold story published yesterday. Under the header, “Many 2011 federal budget cuts had little real-world effect,” Fahrenthold writes:

Late on the night of April 8, 2011, Washington’s leaders announced that they’d just done something extraordinary. They had agreed to cut the federal budget — and cut it big. … Today, an examination of 12 of the largest cuts shows that, thanks in part to these gimmicks, federal agencies absorbed $23 billion in reductions without losing a single employee. … At the Census Bureau, for instance, officials had already said they didn’t need the more than $6 billion they had spent the year before. That money had paid for the once-a-decade 2010 Census. There wasn’t, of course, another census planned in 2011. … At the Transportation Department, Congress canceled $630 million in “orphan earmarks.” These were the wandering ghosts of the highway budget: pots of money assigned for specific road projects, which were still sitting unspent years and years later. Often, this money seemed unlikely to ever be spent. Many projects had been canceled. In one case, the funds were earmarked for a road that did not even exist.

Later in the article, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola explained the effect these phantom cuts are having on the current sequester debate: “There has been a shift in resolve. They have been burned in these fictional cuts. And so the sequester is like real cuts. So I think that there is a willingness to say, ‘We’ve really got to cut stuff, and [the cuts] have got to be real.’”

The sense of betrayal Chocolo describes among many then-freshman Republican congressmen is very real. They feel they were tricked by establishment Washington into voting for fake spending cuts back in 2011 and now they want to make those cuts real in 2013. Democratic plans to replace these very real cuts with tax hikes are completely out of the question, and kicking the can down the road by back-loading the cuts is now also suspect.

If the sequester is undone, it will have to be done with Democratic votes in the House. And the only way that happens, is if at least part of the cuts are replaced with tax hikes. That isn’t happening either. Which is why the sequester is almost certainly going to happen on schedule.

From The Washington Examiner
Examiner Editorial: Democrats’ big-government vision requires tax increases on the poor
Byron York: Six Obama pivots to jobs and the economy
Tim Carney: Obama assails special-interest tax breaks, offers special-interest tax breaks
Michael Barone: Obama’s weak policies increase rather than lessen risk of war
Conn Carroll: The Progressives war on the middle class
Philip Klein: Why it’s unlikely Dems will beat ’6-year itch’ and win back House
Mark Tapscott: Would Lincoln have droned Robert E. Lee?

In Other News
The New York Times, Details Emerging in Menendez Case: Senator Robert Menendez sought to discourage any plan by the United States government to donate port security equipment to the Dominican Republic, citing concern that the advanced screening gear might undermine efforts by a private company — run by a major campaign contributor and friend of his — to do the work.
The Los Angeles Times, State lacks doctors to meet demand of national healthcare law: As the state moves to expand healthcare coverage to millions of Californians under President Obama’s healthcare law, it faces a major obstacle: There aren’t enough doctors to treat a crush of newly insured patients.
The Wall Street Journal, Companies Fret Over Uncertain Outlook: Sixty-three S&P companies have lowered their forecasts for first-quarter earnings, according to FactSet Research, while 17 have raised them, the largest disparity since the firm began tracking the data in 2006.
The New York Times, Young, Liberal and Open to Big Government: On a central philosophical question of the day — the size and scope of the federal government — a clear majority of young people embraces President Obama’s notion that it can be a constructive force, a point he intends to make in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
The New York Times, Obama to Renew Drive for Cuts in Nuclear Arms: President Obama will use his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to reinvigorate one of his signature national security objectives — drastically reducing nuclear arsenals around the world — after securing agreement in recent months with the United States military that the American nuclear force can be cut in size by roughly a third.
The Washington Post, Iran is building militias in Syria: Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanese proxy, are building a network of militias inside Syria to preserve and protect their interests in the event that President Bashar al-
Assad’s government falls or is forced to retreat from Damascus, according to U.S. and Middle Eastern officials.
Politico, Bloomberg PAC spending $1M vs. Debbie Halvorson: A Mike Bloomberg-funded super PAC is about to surpass $1 million in ads in a special House election in Illinois, lambasting former Democratic Rep. Debbie Halvorson over her high marks from the National Rifle Association.

Lefty Playbook
The New York Times editorial board calls for Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to lose Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship.
Lawrence Summers on the growth agenda we need.
Geroge Lakoff says Obama’s speeches are not just words — they are political action.
Ben Smith on Obama’s plans to screw his base.

Righty Playbook
Bill Kristol urges conservatives not to accept the sequester.
Peter Ferrara says the last five years have been The Worst Five Years Since the Great Depression.
Joel Kotkin on Califonia’s war on the suburbs.