Considering what Republicans were saying prior to the fiscal cliff deal - that the sequestration cuts were too much and would gravely injure our national defense - this news from Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, should raise a few eyebrows.
Automatic spending cuts postponed at the start of the year will go into effect as scheduled in March but "no one" is talking about allowing a U.S. government shutdown, the Republican House of Representatives Budget Committee chairman said on Sunday.
The automatic spending cuts had been delayed by two months as part of the deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and deep spending reductions - known as sequestration - that had loomed at the beginning of this month.
"I think the sequester is going to happen," Representative Paul Ryan, chairman of the House budget panel and the party's 2012 vice presidential nominee, told the NBC program "Meet The Press."
House Republicans, most of whom had strongly opposed any tax rate increases in the "fiscal cliff" debate, have now started to shift their focus away the issue of tax increases and toward the spending cuts.
"We think these sequesters will happen because the Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others and they've offered no alternative," Ryan said.
In the debate over how to get America's fiscal house in order, Democrats have argued for a combination of tax increases and public spending cuts. Republicans have favored spending cuts without higher taxes.
Some Republicans have called for delaying the planned spending cuts in defense while increasing cuts in other areas of the federal government. The Pentagon said on Friday it had begun laying off most of its 46,000 temporary and term employees and cutting maintenance on ships and aircraft in an effort to slow spending before nearly $50 billion in new cuts are due to go into effect on March 1.
We've extended the deployment of our carriers from 6 to 9 months because of budget cuts and cut back on deployments altogether. We have one strike force in the Gulf at the moment. We've had as many as three as recently as 4 years ago. Maintenance and preparedness will suffer as a result of these cuts. Some new weapons systems will be stretched out over more years, making them vastly more expensive. Some may get the ax completely.
And that's just defense. If the GOP hopes that sequestration will put pressure on the Dems to come to the table and substitute more reasonable cuts in the budget, it may eventually work. But in the meantime, there will be plenty of pain to go around for everyone.