by Karsten Hultgren correspondent
The sequester cuts, or government spending cuts, set to be implemented on March 1 have created a flurry of back-and-forth between congressional democrats and republicans. As of this writing, Washington remains at a stand-still, each party pointing its finger at the other. According to Abc News, the original sequestration date was Jan. 15, 2012, but this deadline was delayed till Jan. 2, 2013. When Jan. 2 came around, Congress gave itself yet another delay until March 1 of this year.
The sequester cuts will span all federal agencies. The same article stated that these cuts will affect discretionary defense spending by 9.4%, discretionary non-defense spending by 8.2%, mandatory non-defense spending by 7.6% and Medicare by 2%. Several programs, including welfare, social security, the Veterans Administration and Pell grants have avoided any cuts.
As Deirdre Walsh reports on CNN, Speaker of the House John Boehner said at a television correspondent breakfast that President Obama “lacked the guts” to make cuts and “doesn’t have the courage to take on the liberal side of the aisle.” Walsh also reported that Harry Reid, Senate Democratic Leader, told MSNBC reporters that John Boehner was running a “dictatorship” in the House. Reid Epstein reported on politico.com that President Obama blamed Republicans when he said, “There are too many Republicans in Congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch when it comes to closing tax loopholes and special interest tax breaks.”
The sequestration debate took an interesting turn on Tuesday when politico.com reported that Republicans could give the Obama administration the freedom to choose which government-funded programs would be cut. Walsh recorded that Paul Ryan, in an interview with CNN, said, “I think people are willing to do that. I think the idea to give them more flexibility to distribute the cuts makes a lot of sense and that’s something we’re generally in favor of doing.” At an event in Newport, Va., President Obama said, “The problem is when you’re cutting $85 billion in seven months. There is no smart way to do that. Do I close funding for the disabled kid or the poor kid?”
Walsh said, “Top House Democrats also flatly rejected the idea of offering flexibility on the cuts Tuesday, citing concerns that it cedes congressional authority to the executive branch. Jim Clyburn D-South Carolina said, “This is our job to do and we ought not be passing it on or attempting to pass it on to anybody else.”
Republican support is only partial. Despite support from Paul Ryan, GOP leaders John McCain and Jim Lankford remain hesitant. Lankford told CNN, “there isn’t a lot of trust for the administration and how they would actually spend the money if you just handed them a checkbook.” The effects of these automatic cuts are already taking their toll. As Fox News reported, Homeland Security has released 2,000 illegal immigrants facing deportation and plan to release 3,000 more in anticipation of the budget shortfalls they will face due to the cuts to defense budgets.
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