House Speaker John Boehner’s remarks to reporters Thursday included a comment that makes clear the GOP approach to the sequester is so unserious that no deal looks even remotely possible:
“I’ll tell you the same thing I told my Republican colleagues at our retreat,” said Boehner, according to The Hill. “The sequester will be in effect until there are cuts and reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget in the next 10 years.”
So, House Republicans are not only willing to let the sequester hit, but the only acceptable replacement will be a plan that wipes away the deficit in 10 years – all without new revenue?
Let’s consider what this means. Eliminating the deficit in 10 years with no new revenue would require extraordinarily deep cuts to the federal government. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently concluded that doing so would require across-the-board cuts of one-sixth to one-third of spending on government programs, depending on whether defense and/or entitlements are included.
Then there’s timing. There is simply no chance that House Republicans will produce such a budget by March 1, when the sequester is scheduled to take effect. Wiping out the deficit in 10 years with no new revenue would be at least as bad as the Paul Ryan plan – probably worse – yet even that plan was loaded with unspecified cuts and other big question marks.
Surely this drives home just how profound the imbalance has become between the two parties’ handling of this issue.