In effect, what Democrats said Friday was that in any case where the political pain caused by sequestration becomes unbearable, they will agree to cancel that particular piece of the bill while leaving the rest of the law untouched. The result is that sequestration is no longer particularly politically threatening, but it’s even more unbalanced: Cuts to programs used by the politically powerful will be addressed, but cuts to programs that affects the politically powerless will persist. It’s worth saying this clearly: The pain of sequestration will be concentrated on those who lack political power.
What actually happened, via Steve M:
Democrats didn't lose the sequester fight today. Democrats have spent the last few decades losing the sequester fight. They lost it long before it even began, because they've done absolutely no pushback against the notion that government budgets are riddled with colossal amounts of waste, the elimination of which is all we need to have balanced budgets and low taxes and a happy dance around the maypole to celebrate our widespread abundance.
Democrats have defended a few programs fairly vigorously at times -- Medicare, Social Security, public broadcasting -- and they've gotten Joe and Jane to accept the notion that the rich are undertaxed. But Democrats have let the "waste, fraud, and abuse" narrative become unquestioned gospel in the heartland. And so the public went into this sequester moment assuming that a few minor adjustments could get all the good stuff paid for.
Republicans understood that. Democrats didn't. So Democrats lost this fight before it began.
I'll go even further.
Please note that in the Senate, that not a single one of the supposed bastions of liberal purity who are far more progressive than President Obama bothered to lift a finger to stop the unanimous consent motion to agree to the FAA deal. Not Bernie Sanders. Not Elizabeth Warren. Not Al Franken. Not a single effing one of them showed even token resistance to this when they were given a chance to do so. When one voice saying stop would have least registered the disappointment of the American people, "those who lack political power" as Ezra put it, the Democrats in the Senate did nothing.
Barack Obama did not pass the FAA measure in the Senate by unanimous consent. Senate Democrats did. They handed the President this crock of shit and said "You deal with this. We abdicate any responsibility for it."
Keep that in mind.