Sequestration Nation

Joshua Green over at Bloomberg News has one theory why Republicans are so eager to let sequestration kick in:  it’ll hurt Dem districts more, a Bloomberg study finds:

The study shows that Democratic congressional districts will be harder hit by the military cuts than Republican ones, and that eight of the top 10 districts that will experience the deepest cuts are represented by Democrats. Robert Levinson, the Bloomberg Government defense analyst who conducted the study, found that “Democrats won 47 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives in the 2012 election, but 58 percent of the military’s fiscal 2012 prime contract spending went to companies performing work in those districts.” Among the top districts, military spending in those represented by Democrats averaged $893 million this year, vs. $573 million in those represented by Republicans.

Which districts will experience the most pain? Topping the list is Missouri’s first district, which is represented by Democrat William Lacy Clay and received $11.4 billion in “prime defense contract dollars.” Interestingly, Clay may not have to worry. Much of the defense work in his district is done by Boeing for the Saudi government and therefore won’t get cut. Democratic Representative James Moran, on the other hand, is probably concerned about the $11.3 billion sent to Virginia’s eighth district. Rounding out the top three is Republican Representative Kay Granger, whose Texas 12th district received $9.8 billion last year. Representative Morris Brooks of Alabama’s fifth district is the only other Republican in the top 10, with $5.9 billion in contracts headed his way.

Now defense pork is still defense pork, but I’d have to say that this explains at least somewhat the GOP about face on the sequester in the last month or so, and why they’ve been trying to do everything they can to shift blame for it to the Democrats.  The bigger issue is that Republicans are completely okay with the sequester at this point as long at Dem voters get hurt.   And considering a lot of actually useful things in the defense budget are going to get the axe (VA programs, medical care, VAWA provisions for the military, etc) well, as long as Dems feel pain, the Republicans don’t seem to mind at all…

40 replies
  1. 1
    c u n d gulag says:


    This is hardly news.

    Please remind me of a time in history when power-craving sociopathic Nihilists ever cared about the welfare of other people?

    So, thanks for the information – but not knowing that before, hardly surprises me at all, now that I do know.

  2. 2
    aimai says:

    I just don’t think that even teh republicans are stupid enough to think that when targeted groups get hit (specifically, groups in a congressional district) that its not perfectly easy for the dems to blame the republicans. I get that the argument might be “if it doesn’t hurt my constitutuents I don’t care” but the Republicans have been immune to that argument for years. ALL the attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will hurt specifically red state voters/citizens but the Republicans continue to pursue those.

    I also think that the whole personally pissing off a Secretary of Defense that they are eventually going to confirm shows that the Republicans have absolutely lost touch with political reality. There is nothing to stop Hagel and Obama from closing bases in Red States out of revenge. The very way the Republicans have carried on to Obama and Hagel indicates that they don’t think for one minute that the Dems/dem administration has the balls to push back against them. I just don’t think they think very far ahead on any political path. They are not opposing the sequestration because they can’t think of any way to climb off their high horse.

  3. 3
    General Stuck says:

    VA funding now no longer discretionary, and funded like an entitlement, I think. The safety net and entitlements were excluded, with the exception of medicare provider reimbursements, a definite republican constituency.

    While the local jobs picture could be more harmful to dems, the republicans support the MIC plutocrats at large, that own these contractors, so repubs have plenty of skin in the game. There are some social programs, though not the direct safety net ones, that could get cut, depending how things are carved up.

  4. 4
    General Stuck says:

    Oh, and almost forgot


    Just sose you nose.

  5. 5
    Baud says:


    I agree. I don’t the GOP’s posture these days on anything is the result of a rational analysis.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:


    The very way the Republicans have carried on to Obama and Hagel indicates that they don’t think for one minute that the Dems/dem administration has the balls to push back against them.

    They know there’s no downside from the admin/Cabinet side. If no one has learned anything else over the last five years it should at least be obvious that Obama doesn’t do petty. He may jab a little here and there on the stump, but he would never ever revenge fuck a district for what the Rep had said or done.
    This is clear.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    yeah, Obama doesnt’ do petty. But Hagel? I only wish that guy didn’t come across like a wimp.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    I made this point in an earlier thread, but one of the byproducts of GOP gerrymandering is that Dem districts are more solidly Democratic. Even assuming the accuracy of this study, House Dems have more headroom to play with.

  9. 9
    Amanda in the South Bay says:

    That study doesn’t pass the smell test-alas its behind a paywall. Certainly actual military bases aren’t located in predominately Democratic districts.

  10. 10
    Corner Stone says:

    I don’t think, and have never suggested, that anyone in the admin or Cabinet is a wimp or any variant. I honestly don’t know what Hagel would like to accomplish as SecDef.
    Some of the things he’s supported in the past I am in agreement with. Reducing our force abroad, reducing nukes, other overviews of force structure and weapons systems. All good with me.
    But there’s no doubt he came through his hearings looking like shit. He shat himself repeatedly during this phase. His effort was painful.
    And when he’s confirmed he may desire to take a clue by four to some Red States and smile but the fact will remain that he serves at the pleasure of the president.

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: What about defense contractors?

  12. 12
    Baud says:


    I saw the video of Hagel when he was attacking the Iraq war while in the Senate, and he didn’t come off as a wimp. My speculation is that he was trying to be as non-confrontational as possible during the Senate hearing, and he couldn’t pull it off.

  13. 13
    phil says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay: I agree. And even though the money is listed as spent in certain a district, the actual workers may live in other districts.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    @Baud: I know, I’m kidding. I am old enough to remember Hagel as a Senator. But its really clear that McCain, Graham et al assume he has what I would consider supernatural control over his temper. Does anyone think that John “never forget” McCain doesn’t think that if he, McCain were shown that level of disrespect that he wouldn’t legitimately take his revenge where and when he could? This is some bizarre alpha dog pissing contest which McCain et al think they’ve won without any cost.

  15. 15
    General Stuck says:


    I have a lot of problems with a Hagel nomination for any post in a dem administration, but being, or coming off as a wimp is not one of them. The wingnuts were trying to bait him into an outburst, and it didn’t work. Someone needs to be a republican senator during the Bush years and the Iraq nightmare, to get the full pic of the large nutsack it took to be that, and fall off the war wagon in such a profound way as Hagel did.

    I’m sorry that aimai still needs to describe men folk in such a way. Kinda sexist, maybe, uh?

  16. 16
    Corner Stone says:


    This is some bizarre alpha dog pissing contest which McCain et al think they’ve won without any cost.

    As an example, any example, what might it cost them from the admin side?

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    @General Stuck:

    Hagel succeeded in not losing his cool, but I don’t think he performed well. It doesn’t justify what the GOP is doing, however.

  18. 18
    aimai says:


    I know, it was that to which I was referring. My point here, though it seems hard for (some) to grasp is that in a world where McCain’s bitter, long memory for personal insult makes sense he shows remarkably little fear that hagel may share it. As for what Hagel could, or could not, do as Sec Def to take revenge well I’m not proposing anything and it would be unprofessional and improper for Hagel to do anything. I mean that sincerely and without snark. But does anyone think that Cheney and Rumsfeldt got where they got–or McCain either–without blasting right by propriety and professionalism? I admire Obama and his entire team’s ability to rise above the petty politics of vengeance. But there’s no doubt that the Republicans as a party and individually take advantage of this fact and go their limit without fear of any repercussions.

  19. 19
    General Stuck says:


    I had no problem with his presentation, what I saw of it. Considering the asinine questions he received. And I am not a Hagel fan in the least. In every way, he is a far right winger, except, maybe as SecDef. Obama deserves his pick, and I will wait to see if it was a good one, or a disaster.

  20. 20
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Nothing that the Republicans have done convinces me that they ran the data, concluded that the sequester would hurt Democratic-leaning districts more than Republican ones, and therefor changed their stance on the sequester. The Republicans don’t believe in data and they no longer plan beyond the next hostage taking.

    They simply concluded that the sequester would hurt and that they could hang it around the necks of the Dems.

  21. 21
    aimai says:

    To get back to the original post’s point–the Republicans are shifting blame to the sequester as fast as they can to the Democrats precisely because they know its going to be generically harmful to lots of people, and be seen as a political disaster. The fact that they are shifting the blame rather than taking credit for it is proof that they know its going to be publicly bad and make lots of people angry. That’s the way they roll. Its not the result of some careful attention to the specifics of the deal which, given how much attention they paid to polling, science, and information during the election, has completely escaped them. The majority of house members don’t have the faintest idea how their numbers and budgets and fantasies stack up against reality. I can almost guarantee that very few of them have the faintest idea what is in the sequestor or who it will hit. Its more like an asteroid–they are afraid that those who worship their god will blame them when the asteroid hits and they are taking pains to unearth ancient scriptures blaming someone else’s god for the asteroid.

  22. 22
    aimai says:

    Ha! Jinx! Higgs Boson.

  23. 23
    Maude says:

    Yes. The Republicans don’t negotiate with Democrats anymore. They did when LBJ was around.
    The Republican part of the Senate is for destruction of anything that Obama if for and to harm the Democratic Senators.
    LBJ couldn’t have done better than Harry Reid.

  24. 24
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:


    Just another case of great minds…

  25. 25
    John Dillinger says:

    I wouldn’t presume voters will take it out on their individual Congressman. Moran is bullet proof in Northern VA. And what’s to stop the admin from moving contracts around?

  26. 26
    Maude says:

    The thing is that one person like LBJ couldn’t do anything about this. It isn’t up to someone on the outside of the Republican Party. The Republicans in the Senate want to do this and so they do.
    There is no action Reid could have taken that would have made a difference.
    Today’s Republicans are what Ike called the Old Guard.

  27. 27
    Hill Dweller says:

    @efgoldman: How many filibusters did LBJ face?

  28. 28
    David Koch says:

    I’m so tired of the LBJ mythology.

    He couldn’t even keep his caucus from primarying him.

    LBJ got some thing done only because of circumstances. He got civil rights done by taking advantage of a grieving, shocked, and guilt ridden nation following Kennedy’s murder. No murder and civil rights has to wait another 10 years. He got voting right done only because of Selma. No atrocity on film, no votes. Same thing with the fair housing act. It was stalled in congress for 5 years and only got through after the MLK’s murder. Medicare, well, it failed to pass by a hand full of vote when Kennedy was president so it was a slam dunk when the GOP decided to cut off its nose by nominating kooky Goldwater. I mean, Obama would have won reelection by 20 pts too and won 100 seats in congress if the GOP had nominated a modern day kook like Palin or Sen Man on Dog.

  29. 29
    General Stuck says:

    LbJ became president in the wake of an beloved president assassinated. He was able to write his own ticket on most issues, even ones that had been rebuffed for decades, namely civil rights. He pissed it all away on Vietnam, as not having the strength to go against the red scare of the day that was amped up to the max.

    Obama had no sentimentality to ride on, nor did he have a traumatized nation to con like the Bush and henchmen did. He got to be president in the midst of economic collapse, inheriting an economy with one foot in its grave, from thirty years of governance by republican econ philosophy.

    And Reid gets to manage the asylum that is the senate, that hasn’t had this spirit since 1859.

  30. 30
    Scott says:

    The premise of this article is false. The sequester will not effect current signed contracts. In the current fiscal year, these contracts are considered “must pays” because it costs a lot to cancel contracts. The sequester is going to effect payroll in DoD. The plans are for 20 days of unpaid furlough for the civilian workers as well as other immediate cuts in day-to-day living expenses such as travel and supplies.

  31. 31
    mai naem says:

    @aimai: OMG, I am sick and tired of this dissing of Hagel. I think it’s pretty clear he was told he was going to get confirmed anyway and so he was to suck it up and not get nasty with the Repubs. Him serving in the military makes me think that even more – just do the yes sir, no sir bit no matter how much you want to slap the shit out the other person.

  32. 32
    Rosie Outlook says:

    What does GOBP stand for?

  33. 33
    Linkmeister says:

    @efgoldman: I am now about 80 pages into Norm Orenstein and Thomas Mann’s recent book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, and that’s one of their major points; that the current nihilism began with Gingrich and has only gotten worse since.

  34. 34
    Lockewasright says:

    The GOP may be willing to let the sequester kick in, but their corporate sponsors lose when the economy tanks. It may make sense to have a letter writing campaign explaining to the GOP’s sponsors that theirs will be the first products that we cut from our spending when our budgets get tight as a result of the damage their pet politicians do when they damage the economy on purpose because they’re petulant children.

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    the GOP is committing ECONOMIC TREASON against this country

  36. 36
    PreservedKillick says:

    The Bloomberg calculus is bogus. Dems tend to be from districts with larger and more healthy economies. Those districts can absorb sequester shock – there will be pain, but it will be OK, and the displaced workers will have options. I mean, the Boston area gets a crapload of defense money, but pull it away and those highly skilled workers will have jobs pretty quick. Same goes for Silicon Valley, Seattle, etc.

    Compare to, say, a base closing in rural Wyoming. The base could be the only employer of any real size. Close it down, you could basically destroy the district.

    Nobody is going to enjoy the sequester, but it is somewhat amusing to think that the dems are going to be the ones squealing the most.

  37. 37
    Nickws says:

    @David Koch:

    LBJ got some thing done only because of circumstances… Medicare, well, it failed to pass by a hand full of vote when Kennedy was president so it was a slam dunk

    (a.) He really did bring the Civil Rights Act forward by a whole year, all on his own, even with the legacy of Kennedy’s death to draw on. Someone like Stu Symington, if they’d been JFK’s successor, they would’ve have had to wait until after the 1964 election, to pass it along with Voting Rights. Does it matter in the grand scheme of things? Maybe, maybe not.

    (b.) Sure, Medicare was a sure thing to pass, but he also did Medicaid, something I’ve never heard of JFK putting any weight towards, and as for the War on Poverty, those original proposals were absolutely dying in the back rooms of the WH before Johnson grabbed them and ran a freakin’ presidential campaign on them.

    He couldn’t even keep his caucus from primarying him.

    Dude, were you on board with Hamsher’s proposal to primary Bernie Sanders? :-)

  38. 38
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    @Scott: This. Letting the sequestration happen because many defense contractors are in blue districts won’t help the GOP. It will be 1994 and Gingrich’s shutdown all over again – those affected will be the rank and file at military bases. That shutdown worked so well for the GOP.

    As an affected federal employee in 1994, I was categorized as essential for about 1/2 of the shutdown to work and monitor contracts as the Smithsonian had pre-existing agreements with vendors and museums which had to be honored. This time will be no different.

  39. 39
    SFAW says:

    @David Koch:

    He couldn’t even keep his caucus from primarying him.

    Yeah, hoocoodanode? It’s not as if there had been an unpopular war conflict in SE Asia, resulting in 500 dead American soldiers/Marines/Navy per week, going on. So there was really no reason to believe Johnson might have been associated with that imaginary war conflict, and that said association might be problematic for the General election.

  40. 40
    BruinKid says:

    I talked with Lawrence O’Donnell a few months ago when he was at a book event, and someone brought up the Senate GOP’s obstructionism, and how LBJ would’ve kicked some ass.

    Lawrence then said that for all of LBJ’s tactics, he probably wouldn’t have a clue as to how to deal with the current obstructionism by the Republicans. He implied LBJ got a lot done by employing, ah, less than ethical means. Things like bags of cash. That came from Mafia money.


    I mean, LBJ could’ve adapted his tactics, but Lawrence’s point was that the tactics he was able to use back in the 1950s would be utterly meaningless (and many of them illegal as well now) with today’s Senate.

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