Entries in automatic budget cuts (3)


Politicians Prepare for Long Haul After Automatic Spending Cuts

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House and congressional leaders are giving no indication that the $85 billion in mandatory across-the-board federal spending cuts known as the sequester will be lifted any time soon.

Two days have passed since President Obama signed the order to reduce the budget of most government programs by between 5 percent and 7 percent, but with weeks remaining for sequestration’s stronger effects to gradually fester, politicians confirmed today that the near future will amount to yet another game of chicken in the nation’s capitol, maybe indefinitely.

On ABC’s This Week, White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said he expected Republican opposition on Capitol Hill to eventually succumb to constituent pressure.

“My belief is that as this pain starts to gradually spread to communities affected by military spending, to children who need mental health services, to people who care about our border security, I believe that more Republican colleagues who are concerned about this harm to their constituents will choose bipartisan compromise on revenue raising tax reform with serious entitlement reform,” he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

The White House says Obama spent Saturday on the phone with senators from both parties searching for a compromise.

But in an interview aired on NBC this morning, House Speaker John Boehner admitted that while he wasn’t sure how the government’s ongoing fiscal woes could be resolved, after months of dire warnings from both sides it was unclear whether sequestration would even have a negative consequence.

“I don’t know whether it’s going to hurt the economy or not,” he said. “I don’t think anyone quite understands how the sequester is really going to work.”

As the Friday deadline passed, both parties remained at an impasse over the central question that has plagued this debate for over a year: Whether to include new tax revenue in a broader deficit reduction deal.

The White House has insisted on more revenue through the closing of tax loopholes that benefit top income brackets. Meanwhile, Republicans have largely balked at the idea, although their leadership has indicated they could agree to new revenue under the condition it was used solely on the deficit — not to finance new government spending.

Today Boehner stuck to his party’s stance that they had already yielded revenue to the president during the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, which saw income taxes increase on household income over $450,000.

“The president got $650 billion of higher taxes on the American people on January the first,” he said. “How much more does he want?”

On CNN the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, was asked if he could assure the sequester wasn’t here to stay.

“I’m absolutely confident we’re going to reduce spending the amount of money that we promised the American people we would in the law the president signed a year-and-a-half ago,” he responded.

Some Capitol Hill watchers suggest the cuts may remain in place until at least the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. Meanwhile, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 750,000 jobs could be lost if the sequester is allowed to be fully implemented and the country’s GDP would shrink by up to half of a percent.

While the parties continue to duke it out over these budget cuts, at least one crisis appears to have been averted: On Friday, Democrats and Republicans appear to have agreed to not allow the sequester to get in the way of negotiations to continue full funding for the federal government. The funds are slated to run out on March 27.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sequester Government Shutdown Looks Unlikely

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It may not be readily obvious from the blizzard of news out there Friday on the “sequester,” but a government shutdown became significantly less likely Friday, even as the automatic budget cuts barreled ahead toward reality.

What happened? Both sides – Republicans and Democrats – basically seem to have agreed that as they will continue to fight out the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts starting to take effect Friday, they will not allow that disagreement to jeopardize full funding for the federal government. That funding is now scheduled to expire March 27.

After the White House meeting this morning, House Speaker John Boehner said he would have the House vote next week to fund the full government – what’s known as a “continuing resolution.”

Boehner: “I did lay out that the House is going to move a continuing resolution next week to fund the government past March 27th, and I’m hopeful that we won’t have to deal with the threat of a government shutdown while we’re dealing with the sequester at the same time. The House will act next week, and I hope the Senate will follow suit.”

Boehner’s office provided this read-out of the meeting: “The president and leaders agreed legislation should be enacted this month to prevent a government shutdown while we continue to work on a solution to replace the president’s sequester.”

The president was asked at his mini-news conference whether he would definitely sign such a bill, even if it keeps government going at the new, lower spending levels as this fight is resolved (or not).

Obama’s response: “With respect to the budget and keeping the government open – I’ll try for our viewing audience to make sure that we’re not talking in Washington gobbledygook. What’s called the continuing resolution, which is essentially just an extension of last year’s budget into this year’s budget to make sure that basic government functions continue, I think it’s the right thing to do to make sure that we don’t have a government shutdown. And that’s preventable.”

So even as we moved toward the brink of sequester, the nation’s leaders took a step back from another, much larger cliff.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Enlists Governors to Help Get Sequester Deal

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- With less than five days to prevent $85 billion in sweeping, automatic budget cuts, President Obama Monday asked the nation’s governors to help pressure Congress to compromise on a deal to avert the sequester.

“There are always going to be areas where we have some genuine disagreement,” the president told a meeting of the National Governors Association at the White House. “But there are more areas where we can do a lot more cooperating than I think we've seen over the last several years.”

“To do that, though, this town has to get past its obsession with focusing on the next election instead of the next generation. All of us are elected officials. All of us are concerned about our politics, both in our own party's as well as the other party's. But at some point we've got to do some governing,” he said.

The president appealed to governors for help convincing lawmakers to act. “I hope that you speak with your congressional delegation and remind them in no uncertain terms exactly what is at stake and exactly who is at risk, because here's the thing: These cuts do not have to happen. Congress can turn them off any time with just a little bit of compromise,” he said.

Obama said he’s willing to meet Republicans halfway and underscored that he stands by his commitment to cut spending. “Democrats, like me, need to acknowledge that we're going to have to make modest reforms in Medicare if we want the program there for future generations and if we hope to maintain our ability to invest in critical things like education, research and infrastructure. I've made that commitment,” he said.

But Republicans will need to give as well, he said. “We also need Republicans to adopt the same approach to tax reform that Speaker Boehner championed just two months ago. Under our concept of tax reform, nobody's rates would go up but we'd be able to reduce the deficit by making some tough, smart spending cuts and getting rid of wasteful tax loopholes that benefit the well-off and the well-connected,” he added.

“I know that sometimes folks in Congress think that compromise is a bad word, and they figure they'll pay a higher price at the polls for working with the other side than they will for standing pat or engaging in obstructionism. But as governors, some of you with legislatures controlled by the other party, you know that compromise is essential to getting things done, and so is prioritizing, making smart choices,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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