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
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- Why insects are the future of food
- Behind the newest attempt to get the Supreme Court to strike down affirmative action
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
Subscribe to the Week