Gridlock: No budging at the budget-cuts deadline

President Obama signs order enacting cuts.
Associated Press
Mar 2, 2013

 

Gridlocked once more, President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders refused to budge in their budget standoff Friday as $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts bore down on individual Americans and the nation's still-recovering economy. "None of this is necessary," said the president after a sterile White House meeting that portended a long standoff.

Obama formally enacted the reductions a few hours before the midnight deadline required by law. Yet their impact had been felt thousands of miles away well before then. In Seattle, the King County Housing Authority announced it had stopped issuing housing vouchers under a federal program that benefits "elderly or disabled households, veterans, and families with children."

The president met with top lawmakers for less than an hour at the White House, then sought repeatedly to fix the blame on Republicans for the broad spending reductions and any damage that they inflict. "They've allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit," he said, renewing his demand for a comprehensive deficit-cutting deal that includes higher taxes.

Republicans said they wanted deficit cuts, too, but not tax increases. "The president got his tax hikes on Jan. 1," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters, a reference to a $600 billion increase on higher wage earners that cleared Congress on the first day of the year. Now, he said after the meeting, it is time take on "the spending problem here in Washington."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was equally emphatic. " I will not be part of any back-room deal, and I will absolutely not agree to increase taxes," he vowed in a written statement.

At the same time they clashed, Obama and Republicans appeared determined to contain their disagreement.

Boehner said the House will pass legislation next week to extend routine funding for government agencies beyond the current March 27 expiration. "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," he said, referring to the new cuts by their Washington-speak name.

Obama said he, too, wanted to keep the two issues separate.

Under the law, Obama had until midnight to formally order the cuts. Barring a quick deal in the next week or so to call them off, the impact eventually is likely to be felt in all reaches of the country.

The Pentagon will absorb half of the $85 billion required to be sliced between now and the end of the budget year on Sept 30, exposing civilian workers to furloughs and defense contractors to possible cancellations. Said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, only a few days on the job: "We will continue to ensure America's security" despite the challenge posed by an "unnecessary budget crisis."

The administration also has warned of long lines at airports as security personnel are furloughed, of teacher layoffs in some classrooms and adverse impacts on maintenance at the nation's parks.

The announcement by the housing agency in Seattle was an early indication of what is likely to hit as the cuts take effect. It said it was taking the action "to cope with the impending reduction in federal funding," adding that it normally issues 45 to 50 vouchers per month.

After days of dire warnings by administration officials, the president told reporters the effects of the cuts would be felt only gradually.

"The longer these cuts remain in place, the greater the damage to our economy — a slow grind that will intensify with each passing day," he said. Much of the budget savings will come through unpaid furloughs for government workers, and those won't begin taking effect until next month.

Obama declined to say if he bore any of the responsibility for the coming cuts, and expressed bemusement at any suggestion he had the ability to force Republicans to agree with him.

"I am not a dictator. I'm the president," he said. "So, ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say we need to go to catch a plane, I can't have Secret Service block the doorway, right?" He also declared he couldn't perform a "Jedi mind meld" to sway opponents, mixing Star Wars and Star Trek as he reached for a science fiction metaphor.

Neither the president nor Republicans claimed to like what was about to happen. Obama called the cuts "dumb," and GOP lawmakers have long said they were his idea in the first place.

Ironically, they derive from a budget dispute they were supposed to help resolve back in the fall of 2011. At the time, a congressional Supercommittee was charged with identifying at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over a decade as part of an attempt to avoid a first-ever government default. The president and Republicans agreed to create a fallback of that much in across-the-board cuts, designed to be so unpalatable that it would virtually assure the panel struck a deal.

The Supercommittee dissolved in disagreement, though. And while Obama and Republicans agreed to a two-month delay last January, there was no bipartisan negotiation in recent days to prevent the first installment of the cuts from taking effect.

It isn't clear how long they will last.

Of particular concern to lawmakers in both parties is a lack of flexibility in the allocation of cuts due to take effect over the next few months. That problem will ease beginning with the new budget year on Oct. 1, when Congress and the White House will be able to negotiate changes in the way the reductions are made.

For his part, Obama suggested he was content to leave them in place until Republicans change their minds about raising taxes by closing loopholes.

"If Congress comes to its senses a week from now, a month from now, three months from now, then there's a lot of open running room there for us to grow our economy much more quickly and to advance the agenda of the American people dramatically," he said.

"So this is a temporary stop on what I believe is the long-term, outstanding prospect for American growth and greatness."

But Republicans say they are on solid political ground. At a retreat in January in Williamsburg, Va., GOP House members reversed course and decided to approve a debt limit increase without demanding cuts. They also agreed not to provoke a government shutdown, another traditional pressure point, as leverage to force Obama and Democrats to accept savings in benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Obama has said repeatedly he's willing to include benefit programs in deficit-cutting legislation — as long as more tax revenue is part of the deal.

"I am prepared to do hard things and to push my Democratic friends to do hard things," he said at the White House on Friday.

Republicans speak dismissively of such pledges, saying that in earlier negotiations, the president has never been willing to close a deal with the type of changes he often says he will accept.

___

Associated Press writers Robert Burns, Andrew Taylor, Jim Kuhnhenn and Darlene Superville in Washington and Manuel Valdes in Seattle contributed to this report.

 

Comments

Really are you ...

Congress is full of a bunch of pretentious pigeons. Sent to DC to represent the State they came from, and as of lately are not worth a penny they are being paid. How have our representatives, for the Great State of Ohio, passed laws and regulations to bring jobs here to Ohio? One of the things that they are bringing in from other States is that slurey junk, waste from fracking, to be put in Ohio landfills. I say do not pay Congress anything until they pass a balanced budget that takes measures to pay off our national debt. Freeze all of their financial assets, that way the special interest groups they have in their pockets can not keep them afloat. Take their cell phones. Nothing made me more upset than watching a congressman pull his cell phone out of his pocket and talking to someone as his was walking from one meeting to another. They are so stuck on themselves, they do not hide their side business behind closed doors anymore. The president can only, does not matter who is, was, or could have been president, do so much. The senate has got the legislative checks and balances held hostage. What has the Supreme Court been doing this whole time? I forgot they are stuck on two other issues right now, the gay marriage thing and the 11 million illegal alien thing. They should be the ones that enforce how members of Congress behave. We should ask the members of Congress to recite The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, and explian what it means to them:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

From what has been happening lately, this is how they would explain it:

We the members of Congress, in order to fill our Wallets and protect the Wealthy, establish Injustice, insure class Warfare, cut spending on national Defense, allow United States family wage jobs to go Overseas which will put the public on Welfare, and accept special interest Funding while raising the national Debt for our Posterity, live on recess and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Contango

Pres. BHO:

"I'm presenting a fair deal. The fact that they don't take it means that I should somehow do a 'Jedi mind-meld' with these folks and convince them to do what's right,"

It's "Vulcan mind-meld" or "Jedi mind-trick" not "Jedi mind-meld."

His confusion must be due to a choom smokin' flashback.

So it's his desire to take over the minds of his political opponents and force them to do what he wants?

And this egotistical narcissist can say with a straight face that he isn't "a dictator?" lol

http://www.reuters.com/article/2...

deertracker

"So it's his desire to take over the minds of his political opponents and force them to do what he wants?"

I guess you have that power when the "people" give it to you. Nov. 6th anyone????????

Contango

Separation of powers "anyone"?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sep...

coasterfan

Obama offered $2 in cuts for every $1 in increased funding. More than met the GOP halfway. Those are the facts. Thought I'd better mention that, dear Contango, since I'm sure Fox "News" didn't mention it. What should a president do, if he attempts to compromise, and the other party refuses to deal? Sorry, but this one is 100% on the GOP.

Swamp Fox

When was the last time the Democratic controlled Senate vote on a budget bill? I know its a repeat post, but please libbers answer it you know you can't because that is the problem. I understand its difficult cutting federal spending, it might take time away from playing golf with Tiger crash Woods.

goofus

Source or is it Coasterfan media.com?????

Darwin's choice
goofus

President Harrison J Bounel has announced that all americans must stop their negative waves. As United States dictator for life.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K...

deertracker

No cartoons on today?

Swamp Fox

Yea, Obama's radio address

Swamp Fox

Which Obama today?

http://youtu.be/4kRHuTzl37g

The New World Czar

...and was this the aftermath of him not getting his way?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q...

Contango

Pres. BHO and his chicken little whining cronies are gonna look like fools when the world doesn't end.

Heck, the stock market may even like the idea that a few billion dollars has been curtailed from the rate of spending in DC.

Pres. BHO's useful idiots need not worry; the country's journey over the edge and into the fiscal canyon has been merely temporarily halted by a couple of inches.

2013: Federal deficit - $17T

2016: Federal deficit - $20T

FORWARD SOVIET!

deertracker

I bet you like that!

Contango

Actually, IMO, Mr. Bernanke's testimony this wk before Congress that he will continue the "put" was more encouraging long term for the market.

Any bump from this will be temporary at best.

EZOB

Old Indian Tale:
A duck seen a fisherman on the bank fishing and offered a feather for a minnow, it seemed like a good deal and he got a free lunch. This continued for some time, I'll add maybe four years. One day the duck strolled to the bank and unable to fly to offer His last feather. The fisherman reached down and grabbed the duck and had a nice duck dinner. Conservatives will understand this story and I suspect many Liberals just won't get it. They just don't have the memory for anything negative in their party, Few examples:
1) Government bails out GM but forgatten is the heath Care that was lost and salaried employees losing their retirement.
2) On the GM bailout do you remember how many Dealerships were forced to close? Oh, that has totally been forgotten, hasn't it.
3) Do you remember Dennis the Menace getting on Air Force One in DC and 46 minutes later He completely changed his mind on the Health Care Bill. I'll strongly suggest threats or at the very least intimidation. IO say this because Dennis assured everyone that in no way would he be swayed on His decision to be against the Health Care Bill, nor My words, His! This administration is so full of threats, lies, cover-ups, and lack of transparency that those that support it show they are completely ignorant of DC policies.

Contango

You reminded me of Pres. Reagan's story about the wild pigs:

"...it was like the farmer who went into the woods and came back with the wagon loads of wild pigs.

When they asked him how he had done it–they’d been wild for a hundred years–he said, 'I built a fence and I put corn down and fed them, and they got used to eating the corn there, so l extended the fences’s sides and finally I had an enclosure and I corralled them.'

He said, 'If I can get them to take food from me, I’ll own them.'"

http://reason.com/archives/1975/...

BULLISDEEP's picture
BULLISDEEP

Do I hear WELFARE SYSTEM ?

Swamp Fox

Was he for or was he against it? Depends who he is talking too.

http://youtu.be/wcXBkawkHJM

goofus

Why can't the lamestream use the word lie when it comes to president Harrison J. Bounel, they just say he was wrong when we all know he is lying through his teeth.
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_...

goofus

People always remember that the sequester is a 13% spending reduction and under Obozo the EPA's budget has increased 38%.

bored reader

It's kinda like a store closing sale..........they raise the prices 20% and start their closing sale with a 15% sale.

arnmcrmn

Its amazing how a country who rakes in TRILLIONS of dollars a year is going to be brought to its knees with 85 billion in spending cuts that are spread out over a year. I feel really bad for Obama and Dems......they just can't keep raising taxes and print and spend their way out of this one.

Swamp Fox
Swamp Fox

MSNBC & Bob Woodward, certainly not right wingers.

http://youtu.be/gBFim3RhErE

Model Citizen

I notice they are willing to cut the pay for the guys who clean at the White House but I bet nobody in Congress or the Senate will feel a pay cut. LMAO, what a bunch of leeches.

goofus

Model, please read my post, Obozo was lying about the cleaner's paycut!!!!

4-wheeler al

i remenber when president was in sandusky i saw all of those people and their kids with there signs cut spending save money. now the cuts are here everybody is bitching.when everyone was working ,the money was flowing deep and 6 million jobs done. big money going overseas paying people .50 cents per hour too make it bringing back too the stores here and dont have to pay any import tax.tax the piss out them bring the jobs back too the u.s.

thinkagain

Ach, du lieber Gott in Himmel.

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