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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 04:43 PM

Which Republican Party are we dealing with?

(emphasis my own)

Anyone wondering why we are facing the mindless prospect of deep and potentially catastrophic cuts in critical government services—thanks to the sequester—and why President Barack Obama has had so much difficulty in dealing with congressional Republicans need only listen to the Republican responses to the president’s State of the Union address last night. The fact that one Republican can no longer speak for the party is telling. While Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was selected to give the Republican Party’s official response, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) gave the response from the other wing of the party—the Tea Party Republicans.

During his remarks, Sen. Rubio actually blamed the president for sequestration, saying, “And tonight, he even criticized us for refusing to raise taxes to delay military cuts—cuts that were his idea in the first place.” As Politico’s fact checkers were quick to point out, Rubio didn’t portray the president’s remarks accurately.[font color="blue"](to put that more accurately: "He misrepresented what the President said" - in other words[font color="red"] "He Lied"[/font]__Bill USA)[/font] The president did criticize Republicans for trying to prevent defense cuts as part of the sequester by making cuts in nondefense programs deeper, but his remarks said nothing about raising taxes to delay military cuts.

Sen. Rubio was even more out of line in asserting that sequestration was the president’s proposal in the first place. Sequestration is a system of automatic across-the-board cuts that were attached at the last minute to the debt ceiling legislation passed in August 2011, just as the United States was about to tumble into default. The final agreement came after months of negotiations in which the White House consistently demanded a “clean” debt ceiling bill with no riders.

In response to demands from the most extreme elements of the House Republican Conference, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) brought the president’s request for an unamended version of the debt ceiling to the House floor on May 31, 2011, where it was defeated with all Republicans present voting “No.” Comments at the time of the vote from some of the more conservative members of the House were very upfront about their reasoning for wanting to put the United States in the position where it might no longer be able to pay its bills. As former Rep. Allen West (R-FL), a leader of the conservative Republican faction, put it in a press release issued after the vote:

I voted against increasing a debt ceiling absent of spending control measures … I will not vote for this debt increase unless all of the following criteria are met or included in the final bill that would aim to raise the debt limit … A failsafe trigger mechanism must be put in place that would automatically cut spending.


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