Sequestergeddon 2012: The Cheneying

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 17 2012 3:24 PM

Sequestergeddon 2012: The Cheneying

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at the Inova Heart and Vascular Institute Cardiovascular Symposium April 27, 2012 in McLean, Virginia. Cheney discussed his recent heart transplant during his remarks to the symposium. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Dick Cheney moves quickly these days. He arrived in the Senate shortly after noon, heading to lunch with Republicans, breezing by a small group of reporters and photographers. The only question -- which he ignored -- was what he thought of Marco Rubio. Irrelevent. Cheney was there, as Jake Sherman reported yesterday, to tell Republicans how they could roll back the defense sequester.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

A little reminder, in case you've erased the debt limit details from your traumatized brain. The debt limit was increased by $2.4 trillion* with the condition that a "super committee" (you remember now) be empaneled to find $1.2 trillion or more of spending cuts. If they failed, then in 2013, $700 billion would be slashed from the discretionary spending pool, and $700 billion would be slashed from the Defense budget. The theory, hilarious in retrospect (and pretty funny then!), was that the possibility of blunt cuts would spook Congress into actually achieving something.


Ever since the super committee failed, defense lobbyists, vulnerable members, and Republicans in general have been building the case to undo all those defense cuts. In May, the House narrowly passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012, proposed by Paul Ryan, which would (if it had a chance) replace all defense cuts with entitlement cuts. No Democrat backed it. They hold some high cards here, because defense cuts are actually pretty popular.

Enter Cheney. "He's one of the most successful secretaries of Defense that we've ever had," said Sen. John McCain, entering the meeting. After it ended, with two loud, audible bursts of applause, senators filed out and pronounced Cheney a succes.

"One thing that the vice president pointed out, that I think also added to the discussion," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., "was when you make these cuts across the board in the way that sequestration does, it's not only the impact on today, it will make a long-term impact on the Defense Department. He pointed that out in context with other conflicts that we've fought. You never know when the next conflict is going to come."

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., emerged from the meeting with more praise for Cheney's grasp of history and security threats. "It was a very successful presentation," he said, "and my guess is, everybody in the room agrees with it."

As he talked, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., exited and found an elevator. Only one reporter tried to pry information about the presentation from him -- a good call, since Paul isn't as adamant about saving the entire defense budget as some Republicans.

"It was a private meeting," said Paul.

*Originally mistakenly wrote "billion" instead of trillion.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.