sequester kabuki

If you were hoping that the sequester being only hours away from taking effect would spur Congress to take action, you are going to be very disappointed. There are currently no serious negotiations taking place. Instead we are still in the kabuki theater phrase. When Congress only pretends to be doing something while trying to shift blame.

The only recent big developments regarding the sequester are two failed show bills in the Senate and what is effectively a photo-op meeting at the White House. In the Senate Democrats and Republicans put forward their alternatives, and as expected both failed. From The Hill:

The Senate on Thursday rejected rival proposals to stop the sequester, ensuring the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts will begin on Friday.

A bill crafted by Senate Democrats won 51 votes, while a Republican alternative won only 38 votes. Three Democrats — Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.), who are all up for reelection in 2014 — voted against their party’s bill, which fell 51-49.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also switched his vote to “no,” a procedural move that would allow him to bring the bill to the floor in the future.

No one expected either of the bills to pass or even gain any support from across the aisle. They were put up at the last minute mainly so senators can claim they “tried” to do something if they get blamed for the impact of the sequester.

The meeting taking place at the White House with the congressional leaders was also doomed to fail, but it happened anyway so they can at least claim they got into a room together to “try to work it out.” While people should know complex issues with huge ideological disagreements don’t get fixed by forcing all the top players to sit together in a room for half an hour, for some reason there is a whole class of centrist pundits who pretend it is the magical elixir that can cure anything. Now they can claim they at least tried that.

Photo by tommy the pariah[away] under Creative Commons license