Senate Republicans unveiled a proposal Thursday to avoid or delay looming, automatic cuts to defense and security programs by reducing the federal work force by five percent and freezing federal pay for two and a half years.
In a bid to recruit Democratic support for their legislation, the authors of the plan say it saves enough money to forestall automatic cuts to domestic programs, also set to kick in on January 2013. But they continue to oppose using any new tax revenues to offset any of these costs — and in so doing they exposed a contradiction at the heart of their fiscal policy. They oppose tax increases, they say, because of their impact on economic growth — yet their plan to avoid tax increases involves deliberately shrinking demand for jobs.
It's easy to see the Democrats going along with a pay-freeze because that's something congress can easily reverse, however it's unlikely they will agree to cutting the federal workforce by 5 percent.
Will the Republicans accept just a pay-freeze in exchange for delaying the automatic triggers? If the Democrats play their cards right, absolutely. And for their part, the Democrats do seem to be playing this correctly by vowing to stick by the cuts while it is politically convenient to do so. The tune will change when we get closer to fiscal 2013.
I'll go out on a limb now and predict that if the automatic triggers do end up being delayed, they will never happen.