by JONATHAN ALLEN, Politico
Not everyone in Washington is so desperate to avoid sequestration.
A handful of Senate conservatives have been gaming out ways to block a deal, if they consider it a bad one — even if it means letting billions in across-the-board cuts go through, according to GOP sources on Capitol Hill.
The issue: Republican budget hard-liners fear that the White House, congressional Democrats and their own party leaders will try to replace or forestall the cuts with budget gimmickry or new taxes. They worry that “fake” cuts — savings that would have happened anyway or other accounting tricks — will become increasingly popular, even for moderate Republicans, as the zero hour approaches for the Defense Department.
In private sessions, these Republicans have begun laying plans to block a big, bipartisan agreement, either by pressuring GOP leaders not to give ground or using the congressional rulebook to slow-walk the process.
It is too early to tell what will come down the pike, and the discussions are preliminary, Republican sources cautioned.
But the conservative lawmakers are “concerned” that leaders could “use the sequester as leverage to get a bad deal” through Congress, one senior GOP aide told POLITICO.
They view the cuts as money in the bank, the silver lining of an August 2011 Budget Control Act, the debt-limit deal that gave Congress the choice of coming up with $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years or letting automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs take effect on Jan. 2, 2013.
“Whatever you say about the cuts, and we all opposed the BCA, it was a big victory for those wanting to cut spending,” said a Senate Republican source. “To then turn around and replace that with revenue” — or unrealistic future cuts — “is going to be a very hard thing to overcome on our side.” [MORE]