Obama's sequestration report delayed

President Barack Obama missed the deadline to submit a report to Congress on how his administration would implement the budget cuts under the sequestration slated to occur early in 2013.

Under the "Sequestration Transparency Act" (H.R.5872) that became law in August, the administration was required to send the report by Sept. 6, detailing all accounts that would be affected under sequestration. The report is expected to include details on how much money would be slashed from every program, project and activity level.

On Sept. 6, House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans called attention to the looming deadline, and an administration official told Federal Times the report will come “late next week.” The official said the delay is due to the administration needing more time to address the planning issues.

Budget expert Stan Collender, a partner at Qorvis Communications who has worked on the staffs of both the House and Senate Budget Committees, agreed that "sequesters are very complicated, especially because the level of detail OMB must do in the calculations — by program, project, and activity — is not something it typically does."  But Collender also said that politics were almost certainly part of the equation as well.  "It's not likely that the White House wanted the sequester report to be released the day after the Democratic convention ended," Collender said, "when it could have had a negative impact on a post-convention bounce and intruded in the weekend news cycle."

And whatever the reasons for the delay, Collender stressed that the report itself is "likely to be a nonevent," as sequestration is designed to be a straightforward application of across-the-board spending cuts.  "At most, it will be a one-day story that sequester opponents and supporters alike will be able to use for their own purposes," he said. "It won’t change the politics of the budget or the fiscal cliff in any way."

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