Despite the rhetoric about how damaging the automatic spending cuts mandated to take effect on March 1 will be, the debate on Capitol Hill isn't really about spending cuts at all.
In fact, President Obama has already proposed more spending cuts that the sequester would guarantee — including to Social Security and Medicare programs — if the Republicans would just agree to close certain "tax loopholes."
Why wouldn't Republicans want greater spending cuts in return for additional revenue?
It's because the sequester fight is about protecting current low tax rates on capital gains and dividends and keeping open the carried interest loophole that hedge fund and private equity managers use to reduce their own tax burden.
In other words, President Obama would agree to greater spending cuts if only Republicans agree to raise revenue by spreading the tax burden more fairly. A compromise that included both spending cuts and new revenues would obviously reduce the federal deficit by significantly more than the sequester alone.
But Republicans have dug in, saying new tax revenues are off the table.
Bottom line: Republicans don't really care anymore about the deficit and spending cuts than they say Democrats do.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 10 things you need to know today: October 30, 2014
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Beware of Splenda: The backlash against artificial sugars
- How to live a long life, according to science
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- For Democrats, the right lesson from 2014 is to be more liberal
- Sorry, we will not all be having sex with robots in the future
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How the brides of ISIS are attracting Western women
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week