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.