Last week, we thanked former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson for reminding us about PEPFAR, that president's greatest accomplishment. This week, Gerson earns a mid-week post all his own, for a new op-ed he's written, about the sequester we're facing at the end of next week.
Here's where Gerson goes off the rails: "Democratic proposals to avoid the sequester are consistent with an aggressive blame-shifting strategy. Replacing a measure that currently consists of 100 percent budget cuts with one that includes 50 percent revenue increases would probably secure zero Republican votes in the Senate. If Boehner were even to publicly consider this approach, he would likely lose his speakership. The Democratic alternative is designed to be unacceptable to nearly every Republican, making it not a plan but a ploy."
Read that carefully. He's criticizing the Democrats for proposing a solution that does not give Republicans 100% of what they want. Because the Republicans refuse to compromise, the Democrats should reward them by giving them everything they're asking for. How does that make sense? How is that sort of hostage-taking even acceptable as a governing tactic? The only right thing to do is to give in to the minority party's every wish?
I don't know if Gerson wrote those words with a straight face, but his Washington Post piece doesn't include any smilies or ROFLs, so I have to assume he did.
This is even worse if you unpack it a little more. Here's a capsule history of the sequester: "In 2011, for the first time in American history, the entirety of the congressional Republican caucus held the debt ceiling hostage. GOP leaders presented the White House with a non-negotiable ransom note: give Republicans over $2 trillion in debt reduction or GOP lawmakers would crash the economy on purpose. Left with no choice, Obama agreed to negotiate, and accepted over $1 trillion in spending cuts, in exchange for literally no revenue at all. Republicans said this was insufficient, and demanded more than $1 trillion in additional savings -- and if the president refused, they'd crash the economy on purpose. Ultimately, policymakers agreed they needed more time to negotiate additional debt-reduction measures, so they created a mechanism: a 'super-committee' that would work on a bipartisan deal. That, of course, failed, when the panel's GOP members refused to compromise."
Arizona folks might remember that our former, unlamented Senator Jon Kyl was almost single-handedly responsible for preventing the super-committee from functioning. Kind of a parting gift to the nation that's entirely in keeping with the rest of his miserable record.
So we're at this point because of Republican hostage-taking. Now Gerson says if Democrats don't cave in to more Republican hostage-taking, they're at fault for what happens. Brilliant, Mr. Gerson. That's the kind of political acuity that landed you a job in one of the worst presidential administrations in history, and clearly you deserved it.