Friday, April 26, 2013

Don't sweat the small stuff (updated)

I'm not going to get my undies in a bunch because Congress voted to give the FAA some leeway on how they implement the sequester.

Sure, its cowardly to work on behalf of people who can afford to fly while not seeming to give a shit about regular folks who are being damaged by the sequester. And believe me...I'm noticing how my own Senator Amy Klobuchar seems so intent on taking care of her corporate clients lately. You can bet she'll be hearing from me about her priorities.

But lets take a big picture look at what's happening here. Its not like they took money from some other program to cover costs for the FAA furloughs. They simply gave the agency more flexibility in implementing the cuts.

And notice how many Democratic Senators were willing to stand up and object to Not even the lauded Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Why? Because to do so would be like giving airline travelers a big FU for no apparent reason other than to try to score political points against Republicans.

More importantly, the sequester is law for the next 5 months. The MUCH bigger question right now is the one about what is included in the next budget. Save your powder for that one folks. Its going to come right on the heels of the lunatic caucus wanting to blow things up over the debt ceiling. Pissing off a good portion of the electorate over intransigence on this one - not a good idea.

UPDATE: I've disagreed with Ezra Klein before, but I've never seen him be this sloppy.
In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched.
NO! The FAA cuts were not cancelled. The agency was given more flexibility in how to implement them. And then this:
If sequestration is permanent, however, they might as well make it a bit less painful.
Who said anything about sequestration being permanent? They are not included in the Senate Democrat's proposed budget nor in President Obama's budget. None of this changes that. I suppose there are some who would suggest that agreeing to this alteration of the sequester makes their inclusion in future budgets more likely. I don't buy that argument.

Where Ezra could be considered to be right is that by agreeing to this bill, the Democrats have probably lost any battle they might have waged over the next 5 months to end the sequester. But I doubt there was much chance of that happening anyway.

No surprise that Steve Benen is able to recognize some limits to seeing this as a total "win" for Republicans.
Republicans "scrambled" just as quickly this week, fearing they might get blamed for the delays, too. It's precisely why they launched such an aggressive public-relations campaign, hoping to divert responsibility for the spending cuts they claim to love.


  1. Thanks for this explanation and perspective.

    I was about to get pretty upset about this, because it seemed so unfair.

    Now, the strategy makes sense.

    1. Don't get me wrong. The fact that this is the only priority pisses me off. But in the big scheme of things, voting against this (or vetoing it) wouldn't have changed anything for the better.

    2. I agree. The moral argument is a good one, but does anyone honestly think that Obama would score political points if he were to veto this bill because it didn't also save Head Start?

      I'm reminded of the following exchange from "The American President":
      A.J.: Excuse me, Mr. President, I just got off the phone with the federal mediator in St. Louis. Management just walked away from the table; the baggage handlers, pilots and flight attendants are all getting set to walk out in forty-eight hours.

      President Andrew Shepherd: You know, I studied under a Nobel Prize-winning economist, and you know what he taught me?

      A.J.: Never have an airline strike at Christmas?

      It's not Christmas, but the principal remains the same: When people are trying to get home, they don't care about the niceties of political struggles. They just care if they are going to be stuck at the airport. The average citizens judges its government by how it handles the day-to-day stuff, even if they don't realize that is what they are doing. And when the stuff fails them, they will blame everyone until it gets fixed.

  2. Mo'nin, Ms. Pants

    It's been nutz. Daughter's gettin' married, a number of other things. But, I'm still around and will have you know that, just very recently, was able to educate some right wing friends of mine due to the recent report of "Congress miiiiight opting out of the ACA" as reported by "Tiger Beat On The Potomac" (LOVE that. Charles Pierce, donchaknow) and your timely analysis and brotha Boo and his crew are just having mass vapors over what you are explaining here. A brave soul leaped into the fray and directly linked you and this very piece. It soothed one mind, but the wailing and gnashing of teeth continued anyway.

    Hearding Libs is like hearding damn cats at any point. Therein.....

    THANK YOU, as ALWAYS for what you do.

    Your need continues.

    1. Mornin Blackman!

      I was just wondering where you'd gotten off to lately. So its great to hear that you're still out there doing your thing.

      Hope the upcoming nuptials are blessed.

      You know I mostly appreciate and respect "brotha Boo's" analysis. But he seems to be a bit off his game lately.

      I think this particular hair-on-fire incident will pass shortly. There's so much on the table right now folks will have forgotten about it soon.

    2. Well the brave soul waved me over here and I appreciate it very much. Somewhere between eleventy-dimensional chess and "He sold us out" lies the path forward, and if the past is any indication that's where we'll be in 5 months. Which is to say Reflexive caterwauling about betrayal is rather tiresome. It's refreshing to read analysis that puts things in perspective. Think I'll drop by more often.