Sequestergeddon 2012: The Cheneying

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

Sequestergeddon 2012: The Cheneying

143478349
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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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.

Advertisement

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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Mad About Modi


Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.


Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 6:59 PM The Democrats’ War at Home Can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 4:45 PM Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.