Obama urges sequestration delay

John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner insists only spending cuts should be considered in any plan to avoid sequestration.

Editor's note: This story was modified after its original publication to correct information about the House vote on the Budget Control Act of 2011.

In remarks to the White House press corps on Feb. 5, President Obama urged Congress to pass short-term measures that would delay the budget cuts that sequestration is scheduled to bring starting March 1.

"These are decisions that will have real and lasting impacts on the strength and pace of our recovery," Obama said. "We've ... seen the effect that political dysfunction can have" on the health of the economy.

"The good news is, this doesn't have to happen," he continued. "I still believe that we can finish the job with a balanced mix of spending cuts and more tax reform."

The president noted that Congress "is already working toward a budget that would permanently replace the sequester," and said legislators should be given the chance to complete those efforts.

In addition to the threat of sequestration cuts, the government's overall funding runs only through March 27, when a continuing resolution expires. But if Congress cannot "act immediately on a bigger package" before March 1, Obama said, "then I believe they should at least pass a smaller package ... that will delay sequestration's effect for a couple of months."

The president did not specify what sort of short-term spending cuts or tax reforms should be made to delay sequestration, saying only that it should be a balanced approach. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), even before the president spoke, dismissed the idea that anything other than spending cuts should be considered.

"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. 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."

Despite Boehner's suggestion that Obama bears the responsibility for sequestration, the Budget Control Act of 2011 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 269-161. Boehner was among the ayes.

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.

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Reader comments

Tue, Feb 26, 2013

I'm so confused. We are talking about a forced $85B cut to $3.8T resulting in a budget that still exceeds last year's budget. Too many people in leadership have refused to show any restraint or control over their spending so they need to be held accountable.

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 Troy K. Schneider

Kyle -- First off, we goofed. The vote cited in the original story was for a July 29 House vote on the Budget Control Act (Vote 677, for anyone who's curious, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll677.xml) and not the FINAL-final vote which took place on Aug. 1. (http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll690.xml).

The standard reporter defense is these situations is to blame his editor, but a) a mistake is a mistake, and b) look at my title. The story has been corrected, though, and we regret the error -- especially since it suggested NO support from House Democrats.

But now that we're down in the legislative weeds, I would push back on your version as well. My intended point was not that Obama was fighting some bad GOP plan, but that all parties are complicit in this whole sequester mess – and that neither can honestly pin the blame on the other side. Boehner and Obama both supported the sequester as a forcing mechanism, as did Nancy Pelosi and both leaders in the Senate; it could not have passed otherwise. As the correct vote makes clear, the BCA was a bipartisan decision by legislators to hold a budgetary gun to their own heads.

Wed, Feb 6, 2013

Congress and the Administration is playing the old game of "Kick the Can" with the deficit. USA Banckrupcy here we come!

Wed, Feb 6, 2013 Kyle

Troy if you really believe the implication of your last line, then either you didn't do good background on this story. If you did, you would know the dems voted the way they did for political cover, to make sequester look repub. It was the Presidents initiative. Do a little research next time.

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