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John Boehner's Sequester Gift to Democrats

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about tax measures during a news conference in Washington, D.C.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about tax measures during a news conference in Washington, D.C. Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Over at New York magazine, Jonathan Chait has a good post explaining how John Boehner has trapped himself on the looming budget sequester. What Boehner desires most is to cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid—or, to employ the euphemism Boehner himself uses in today’s Wall Street Journal, to “reform America’s safety net and retirement-security programs.”

The problem, as Chait points out, is that cutting these programs is deeply unpopular. Boehner has not proposed how he would do so—he doesn’t dare. He needs the political cover of Democrats’ cooperation but won’t entertain the new tax revenue necessary to secure it. As a result, he’s almost certain not to get the cuts he wants. Meanwhile, his own party may be headed for a crack-up.