A few people know that Republicans filibustered two Democratic bills that would have stopped the draconian fiscal cuts known as the "sequester". What most folks don't realize is that the sequester was supposed to be so horrendous that it would force Democrats and Republicans into a compromise for the good of the whole country.
During the "fiscal cliff" negotiations that opened 2013, President Obama laid out a fix to the sequester mess, limiting domestic and defense spending cuts to $200 billion. He sought to make up the difference by leveraging government purchasing power to reap $400 billion in health-care savings and banked another $200 billion by ending waste in farm subsidies and other "mandatory" spending. Obama rounded out his proposal by demanding sacrifice both from the wealthiest – limiting tax deductions and loopholes for the rich – and from future retirees, trimming Social Security payouts by adjusting the way Washington measures inflation. Twenty years ago, this is the kind of self-negotiated proposal that might have been floated by Republican Sen. Bob Dole. But the party of Eric Cantor and John Boehner reacted as if it had been proposed by Hugo Chávez.