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Obama: Let’s Delay The Sequester Cuts. Boehner: Let’s Not

President Obama just recently concluded a brief statement in the White House Press Briefing Room in which he called on Congress to once again kick the can down the road and delay the sequestration cuts now scheduled to kick in on March 1st:

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday called on lawmakers to quickly pass a new package of limited spending cuts that can head off the automatic, across-the-board reductions that are set to take effect on March 1.

Mr. Obama said the Congress should delay the automatic cuts for a period of months to give lawmakers a chance to negotiate a full budget that permanently resolves the threat of the so-called sequester.

“They should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms” to put off the automatic cuts, Mr. Obama said Tuesday, adding that there is no reason to put at risk “the jobs of thousands of Americans.”

The president said the economy has begun to recover, but he warned that continuing clashes over taxes and spending threaten to delay or derail that improvement.

“We’ve also seen the effects that political dysfunction can have,” he said. “We’ve made progress. and I still believe we can finish the job with a balanced mix of spending cuts and more tax reform.”

The president delivered the request in a statement Tuesday afternoon at the White House, acknowledging that a broader budget agreement is unlikely to be reached by the March deadline when the cuts to domestic and military programs will go into effect.

Even before the President had spoken those, House Speaker Boehner was signalling opposition to the idea, which had been leaked to the press earlier today:

Speaker John Boehner is signaling he will not accept revenue increases that President Barack Obama is expected to propose to delay the automatic spending cuts that take hold at the beginning of March.

“President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law,” Boehner said in a statement. “Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense.

“We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes,” he added. “The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.”

The first thing that occurs to me is that it wasn’t too long ago that it was the Republicans who were insisting that the sequestration cuts should not happen, mostly because of their claims that the cuts would gut the military. The President, meanwhile, seemed fine with letting them go forward, although he did predict during the final Presidential Debate that the cuts would not happen because he would be able to reach some kind of grand bargain with Congress. The odds of that happening during the lame duck session of the 112th Congress were pretty slim, which is largely why the cuts were delayed to March 1st to begin with. Now, though, roles seem to be reversed and it’s the Republicans who seem to be okay with letting the cuts go through, which is odd considering that it would hit their precious defense budget. Perhaps this is just an attempt to gain bargaining position for the talks that will take place over the next month. Whatever it is, it’s mighty darn odd.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Now, though, roles seem to be reversed and it’s the Republicans who seem to be okay with letting the cuts go through, which is odd considering that it would hit their precious defense budget. Perhaps this is just an attempt to gain bargaining position for the talks that will take place over the next month. Whatever it is, it’s mighty darn odd.

    I think the GOP ascertains that the blame for the crashing economy would fall upon Obama. Obama seems to agree.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. Sandman says:

    Just more proof as to how bad our political system is. Both parties are the same. They don’t care about we the people, they care about them the politicians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  3. edmondo says:

    Can someone explain to me why defense contractors are vital to our economic well being but senior citizens who get Social Security are “takers”?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  4. Rob in CT says:

    The Sequester was supposed to be a Sword of Damocles that would force the parties to hammer out a better deal. It was, of course, stupid.

    If memory serves, there are two basic problems with the Sequester:

    1) The total size of the cuts is such that there is a reasonable possibility of a resulting recession; and

    2) The cuts are “dumb” instead of targetted.

    I actually think #1 is much more of a problem than #2 (though I read somewhere – can’t remember where now – that the “dumb” nature of the cuts drilled all the way down to individual programs within departments. If true, that’s monumentally stupid).

    I suspect that things will shake out a bit like the “fiscal cliff” did: Congress will make a deal after the clock strikes midnight, but not all that long after.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  5. Moosebreath says:

    Because austerity has worked so well in Europe…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  6. Ben says:

    “Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense.

    In other words, lets replace all of the cuts we don’t like with more cuts that you don’t like. Because to Republicans, a fair deal means that we get everything we want, and screw you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  7. Todd says:

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if we had two parties that were equally interested in doing things to improve the economy, no matter who gets the “credit” … instead of trying to figure our how to make sure the other side gets the “blame” when our political dysfunction causes the economy to get worse?

    Although, seeing as how both sides seem to be in agreement that some sort of cuts are “needed”, we’re definitely playing with the possibility of another recession .. so I suppose it’s good to be prepared with a plan for who’s to blame.

    What’s baffling to me is how we can have such a relatively significant percentage of people in this country so economically illiterate that they honestly believe that massive cuts to the Federal budget will somehow Help the economy, even in the short term. As if all those Federal employees and Defense contractors getting laid off will have no effect on the private economy … because apparently they must not actually spend their paychecks.

    I do think it’s reasonable to debate whether or not austerity now may have some longer term benefits. But I just can’t see how there’s any doubt that it’s hurtful in the short-term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Here’s the thing…Ryan blew up Simpson Bowles because he was unwilling to accept revenue increases. Obama got eventually got revenue increases. So Ryan gave up everything else…for something he lost anyway. That’s just stupid.

    Now Republicans are still fighting over more revenue. But the CBO is out with a report today that says Republican austerity is holding back the economy significantly. And we all know Boehner is lying when he says:

    “…Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes…”

    Americans are all for closing loopholes on the wealthy. Do you think anyone really cares about Romney’s Carried Interest Deduction?

    Obama is right…we need revenue and cuts. He’s made the offer. Republicans will reject it. Sequester will happen. Then Republicans will cave on revenue to walk back the Sequester.

    Bottom line…they are just too stupid to be governing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  9. Just Me says:

    So basically we are back to the democrats wanting tax increases without actually cutting anything.

    Spending needs to be cut, there are only so many “rich” people to raise taxes on and the entitlement culture is demanding more and more money. And cutting spending in entitlements may simply be a matter of reworking how we pay for them (I think the day is coming when the only way to save SS and to some degree medicare will be means testing-it may make some people angry, but I really see no reason for Bill Gates to draw a social security check). That would be a cut, but it would also preserve the program.

    That said, I do think the military budget can be cut, but the military budget isn’t the the main problem with spending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  10. Gustopher says:

    (I think the day is coming when the only way to save SS and to some degree medicare will be means testing-it may make some people angry, but I really see no reason for Bill Gates to draw a social security check)

    The only way to achieve significant savings with means testing is to set the upper limit on income to be low enough to deny benefits to a whole lot of people — well beyond the Bill Gates of the world.

    It would also cost a fair amount to administer these means tests, so the threshold would have to be lower just to cover that administrative cost.

    And, it’s just not fair — these wealthy people paid into the programs, they should get the benefits.

    And, finally, Medicate already is means tested.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  11. David M says:

    @Just Me:

    There have been plenty of things cut over the last couple years. Means testing won’t save much money, but will make the programs easier to kill. The military budget is huge, how can it not be considered the main problem?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  12. al-Ameda says:

    It’s simple, Boehner prefers economic policies that cause recession, and let’s not kid ourselves, real cuts in spending will push the economy into a recession.

    Speaker Boehner and Republicans know this and prefer that course of action anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  13. de stijl says:

    From this afternoon:

    Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) issued a joint statement Tuesday in which they said they will be introducing legislation that will trim the size of the federal government through attrition in order to avoid the defense budget cuts associated with sequestration.

    “This common-sense approach avoids a damaging self-inflicted wound to America’s security, and we hope the President will join us in this effort,” the trio said in the statement.

    The Republican goal has always been to proceed with the domestic spending cuts while preventing the defense cuts. That’s just “common-sense.”

    Like you all, I’m shocked – shocked! – at this turn of events. Who could possibly have seen this coming?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @ Just me…

    “…So basically we are back to the democrats wanting tax increases without actually cutting anything…”

    The facts don’t back you up.
    Maybe you shouold re-examine your position?
    Nah…didn’t think so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  15. rudderpedals says:

    Kick the can down the road or shoot the hostage in the head and pocket it as a win against government in ’14

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  16. MBunge says:

    @al-Ameda: “It’s simple, Boehner prefers economic policies that cause recession, and let’s not kid ourselves, real cuts in spending will push the economy into a recession.”

    The problem is that a lot of Corporate America is going to get hammered by sequestration. If the money boys decide the GOP can no longer be trusted on economics, look out.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  17. C. Clavin says:

    Let’s see…the Sequester cuts will be DEVASTATING to National Defense. But Republicans think that Carried Interest Dedections are more important. Any questions?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  18. edmondo says:


    the Sequester cuts will be DEVASTATING to National Defense……

    No, the sequester will be devestating to our ability to be the world’s policeman. That’s not a bad thing

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  19. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @al-Ameda: I think it is simpler than that. Boehner is simply against whatever the ******is for, updated daily. He doesn’t think in big picture terms at all.

    And no, Doug, it’s not odd at all. It’s the game plan of your team for the past 4 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    The problem is that a lot of Corporate America is going to get hammered by sequestration. If the money boys decide the GOP can no longer be trusted on economics, look out.

    You’re right.
    I believe that deep down, Corporate America wants to go with the Republicans on this. There is much at stake – there is a lot that will be on the table that might be off the table if we go into real cuts (not just reduced rates in the increase in spending). I am completely convinced that such cuts will cause a recession, and just as we are weakly climbing out of the depths of the 2008 crash.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  21. MarkedMan says:

    I shouldn’t even be writing this* but I need to call BS on Doug. Obama isn’t asking Congress to delay sequestration. The sequestration law says that you can substitute one set of cuts for another. Obama is saying “maybe we can’t agree on all cuts, but lets make these obvious ones and that will delay the need for the rest of sequestration to kick in until we can reach a deal on that.” Not at all what Doug wrote in his headline. No surprise there…

    *I know I shouldn’t read Doug’s posts but in the short takes you have to click through before you know who posted them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  22. Just Me says:

    The military budget is huge, how can it not be considered the main problem?

    Because the military budget is a little less than 20 percent of the budget (and noting that I said there are things in this budget you can cut) and social security, medicare, various means tested programs and things like unemployment are 50% of the budget and growing.

    And I think the government has raised eligibility ages about as far as they can, without causing more harm to the elderly who are struggling the most. 70 year olds with desk jobs will do okay if they have to wait that long to collect, but the person who works with labor is going to struggle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  23. David M says:

    @Just Me:

    Social Security and Medicare do not contribute to the deficit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  24. Greg says:

    This sequestor needs to repeat every 6 months until Congress can pass a budget and post a surplus to reduce debt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  25. Greg says:

    This sequestor needs to repeat every 6 months until Congress can pass a budget and post a surplus to reduce debt. Cut, cut, cut.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. al-Ameda says:

    @Greg:
    Those kind of cuts would force the economy into a very deep recession. That would be like medieval medicine – blood letting and leeches to ward off pneumonia.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1