When the issue of Democratic Party strategy comes up, one of the biggest questions often is: does the Democratic Party finally dig its trench and swollen the bitter pill of sequestration in order to force the GOP into an unshakable political hole? Of course, there are as many opinions and answers as there are individuals answering this question. But two of the main answers are as follows.
One is that refusing to cave to Republican Party pressure to cut a raw deal on the sequester is an essential policy move that will make Republicans think twice about waiting the Democratic Party out to give in to GOP demands. And there’s a lot of truth to this. If the Democratic Party continuously ‘caves’ during the worst effects of poor policy decisions (like the sequester), then the Democratic Party has no real leverage to extract any significant policy demands from the Republican Party, like Ezra Klein points out. Yes, the Democratic Party may be saving their constituents pain in the short run, but when you give in to the demands of a mad man holding hostages, you better make sure you’ve neutralized the mad man (i.e., the Republican Party) in the process. Otherwise, the mad man will keep holding hostages!
Then there are those who would argue that allowing poor policies like the sequester to continue unabated is a moral wrong that would put the Democratic Party on the same morally bankrupt level as the Republican Party. As a party that prides itself on being the party of the people, how can the Democratic Party harm the people they’ve been elected to represent, even if it’s only for the short term? Of course, many within the GOP know that they can hold just about anyone hostage and the Democratic Party will cave in to its demands for fear that doing otherwise would lead to the senseless harm of the hostage (i.e., Americans in general).
Although I haven’t given the complexity of the debate its entire due, it’s really a more difficult issue than I’ve described here. Both sides that I’ve described have valid points. But at this point in the game, with so much riding on the Democratic Party standing its ground, it seems clear that the Dems have finally got to grit their teeth, gird their loins, and settle in for a long and painful policy battle. Ultimately the Republicans continue to chip away at hard fought Democratic policy victories.
Yes, it’s easy for someone like me who hasn’t been directly affected by the sequestration (yet) to advocate a hard and strong policy stance, but like so much else in life, it’s best to take a big hit now and recover rather than continue to draw out the economic pain.