IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

A muddled message gets messier


Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), talking to the Salt Lake Tribune this week about looming sequestration cuts:

"I'm for sequestration," Hatch said, if Congress can't cut spending. "We've got to face the music now, or it will be much tougher later."

Hatch, in literally the next paragraph, during the exact same interview:

With across-the-board spending cuts set to kick in next week, Hatch said sequestration would lead to an economic disaster in Utah as two-thirds of civilians working at Hill Air Force Base would be furloughed. He said it would be "devastating to our nation's readiness."

Dan Gross called this "amazing." I suppose that's as good an adjective as any.

It gets back to the point we discussed earlier in the week about the flaws in the Republicans' sequester message. Hatch's comments are the most explicit example I've seen of the problem, but he's not the only one burdened by the underlying incoherence: GOP officials (a) believe next week's sequester will hurt the country; (b) intend to impose this punishment on the country anyway.

The Utah Republican, probably unintentionally, captured this perfectly: he thinks the sequester will be "devastating" for his own home state and constituents, but the senator is "for" it anyway.

For what it's worth, President Obama called Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday morning "in what Republicans say were his first substantive conversations with the GOP leaders this year" about the sequester. At the same time, the Wall Street Journalreports a small number of congressional Republicans want their leaders to consider a compromise with revenue in order to avoid next week's self-inflicted wound.