Spending cut squabbling turns to blame game
February 20th, 2013
10:45 AM ET
2 years ago

Spending cut squabbling turns to blame game

(CNN) – As time winds down for lawmakers and the White House to forge a plan averting the latest fiscal catastrophe, each side looked past a fix Wednesday and instead sought to pin the blame for the painful forced spending cuts on the other party.

Congress, which isn't even in session this week, doesn't appear close to taking action on the $85 billion in forced cuts, which take effect March 1. Lawmakers and aides told CNN Tuesday not to expect any measure staving off the budget slashing to pass in the near future.

Without a solution in sight, leaders jumped ahead to the bickering over whom to blame if the cuts take effect. Writing on the Wall Street Journal's opinion page, House Speaker John Boehner repeated his line that the cuts were President Barack Obama's idea, writing the across-the-board measures are "a product of the president's own failed leadership."

The cuts, which include massive slashes to military spending, have cast a shadow over Congress and the White House since 2011. They were originally meant to be so drastic that both sides would have to reach a deal before they were implemented.

The White House initially proposed the idea of forced spending cuts, but they were approved by Congress as part of a deal to allow continued borrowing by the Treasury to pay the nation's bills.

"The president's sequester is the wrong way to reduce the deficit, but it is here to stay until Washington Democrats get serious about cutting spending," Boehner wrote in the Wall Street Journal. "The government simply cannot keep delaying the inevitable and spending money it doesn't have."

White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer called Boehner's allegations a distraction technique in a post on the White House's blog, writing "the Leader of the Republican party took to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal to engage in an amazing act of revisionist history."

"Instead of communicating with the American people – who support a balanced approach to reduce the deficit – about finding a compromise, the Republican Leadership once again launched a series of false attacks instead of putting forward ways to resolve this issue in a bipartisan way," Pfeiffer wrote.

Later, Pfeiffer alleged on Twitter that the GOP actually wants the massive cuts to go into effect, and said a compromise deal would be impossible unless Republicans budge on their opposition to closing tax loopholes.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Budget • John Boehner
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. beevee

    people who votes for these worthless congressmen and senators should be able to boot these guys out of office for not doing their job. these guys in DC save for the president have become a disgusting bunch of do nothing leaders.

    February 20, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. Martin

    I'm a civilian govt worker explain to me why we need to take a furlough days off and the Govt gets a pay raise..??They are freezing cost of living raising our taxes and cutting our pay..The only thing they are going to get is nothing out of this deal because the money they try to save to pay off the deficit is already spent to go to something else stupid...

    February 20, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Joi Gibson

    @NickAnast

    "I got 98% of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy." – John Boehner, after the deal creating the Sequester was announced
    -----------------------------------------------–
    Exactly!!! Maybe someone in the media should remind Speaker Boehner of what he said.

    February 20, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. rs

    Beverly-
    Not a bad recommendation. However, if the cuts happen, we almost instantly add 100,000 to the unemployment rolls. That will increase the payout for unemployment compensation, and decrease the amount of revenues coming in through tax revenues. At face value, not the end of the world, but what if the downward spiral begins (such as we've seen in Europe)? That means we will have cut federal spending, but there will be no benefit for that because tax income for the nation will go down. We will be no better off than 2 or 3 years ago.
    No, this is what the GOP wants. They want another recession, hoping to win some advantage for 2014.

    February 20, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Tony

    Boehner accused Obama of wanting to annihilate the GOP. What is remarkable is that Obama is letting the GOP do it to itself.

    February 20, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. rs

    Boy, lots of GOP apologists pushing the "Sequester is Obama's fault" lies this morning. Pretty silly boys, and too easily de-bunked. Getting worried what real Americans will do to the GOP if they crash they economy AGAIN? You should- you guys could be out of office for a decade or more. If your party survives that is.

    February 20, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Martin

    Oops I better be carefull what I say.They are trying to do away with the 2nd amendment they might try to take away freedom of speech....who knows the way things are going...

    February 20, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. AlbannchMN

    The only real winners or losers here are the American people. Congress needs to get off their collective duffs and get busy. Government and government services cost money, we need to figure out how to pay for those services. First we need to figure out the priorities. Do we help the unemployed and working poor? Do we have a miltary capable of fighting multiple wars around the globe or one sufficent to protect our country? Continue subsidies to oil companies? Farmers? Maintain the countries infrastructure (roads, bridges, utilities, etc.)? Do we honor the ideals of the founding fathers or become a nation of greedy, self centered whiners. Taht is the discussion we need to have in my opinion.

    February 20, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    Also, this nonsense about the Bush tax cuts benefitting the poor and middle-class more than the wealthy needs to stop. This is the breakdown, starting with the lowest 20% of incomes and going up:

    Moreover, here's the breakdown of how the Bush tax cuts benefitted different income levels, starting with the lowest 20% (1st quintile) and going up:

    1st quintile – 0.3% of the tax breaks.
    2nd quintile – 4.1% of the tax breaks.
    3rd quintile – 7.5%
    4th quintile – 14.9%
    80%-99% – 43.1%
    Top 1% – 30%

    In other words, 73.1% of the tax breaks went to the top 20% of wealthiest individuals. This is math and cannot be denied and it is why the Bush tax cuts exponentially accelerated the redistribution of wealth UPWARDS. Do you guys just like being wrong?

    February 20, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Also, this nonsense about the Bush tax cuts benefitting the poor and middle-class more than the wealthy needs to stop. This is the breakdown, starting with the lowest 20% of incomes and going up:

    1st quintile – 0.3% of the tax breaks.
    2nd quintile – 4.1% of the tax breaks.
    3rd quintile – 7.5%
    4th quintile – 14.9%
    80%-99% – 43.1%
    Top 1% – 30%

    In other words, 73.1% of the tax breaks went to the top 20% of wealthiest individuals. This is math and cannot be denied and it is why the Bush tax cuts exponentially accelerated the redistribution of wealth UPWARDS. Do you guys just like being wrong?

    February 20, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Ed wrote:

    "rankly, who cares who's idea the sequester was? The point is ALL parties agreed to it. Well, CONGRESS, what are you going to do about it?"

    I couldn't agree more. Both parties had plenty of involvement in how this happened. I do however expect more from Obama in regards to leadership.
    --------------------
    So, if it makes no difference, then why are we in the midst of week 2 of a GOP spin campaign to lay 100% blame on Pres. Obama? Could it be that polls from a month ago show that the public would overwhelmingly blame Republicans if Congress allows the sequestered cuts to kick in? Could it be that the polls reflect the fact that Republicans have consistently pushed for going over the brink every time one of these crisis comes up?

    February 20, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Oops I better be carefull what I say.They are trying to do away with the 2nd amendment they might try to take away freedom of speech....who knows the way things are going..."

    Sorry, but it's the 2nd Amendment freaks who want to kill the 1st Amendmnet. Their favorite deflection is "violence in video games, music and movies is to balme for all of it." This, despite any scientific studies supporting the claim. They'd rather the 1st Amendment be killed than the 2nd though...after all, it would rid the Constitution of that pesky separation of church and state that they also tend to hate.

    February 20, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "No, this is what the GOP wants. They want another recession, hoping to win some advantage for 2014."

    Indeed. Plus it furthers their "starve the beast" agenda to force the destruction of the New Deal programs like Medicare, SS, etc.

    February 20, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  14. wwf

    Martin,
    If you are so afraid that they will do away with the 2nd amendment, go out and buy more guns while you can. Maybe pick up a couple of ground to air missiles while you are at it.

    February 20, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  15. Bev

    the real problem is this president has a serious spending problem & we're all going to suffer the consequences

    February 20, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. rob

    Tony
    The ultimate responsablility for leadership falls on the President. His public relations appearances blaming Republicans does nothing to help solve the crisis. If the economy sinks and the Military has catistrophic cuts its the Presidents legacy that will suffer. No amount of blaming and Media cheerleading will deflect the blame he will get in history.

    February 20, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "the real problem is this president has a serious spending problem"

    Yes, his spending problem is this: he is the Chief Executive and bound by the budgets passed by Congress and must spend as the laws they pass command. What's remarkable is that this little tidbit of 3rd grade civics seems to go unnoticed by not only the vastly undereducated GOP/Tetroll crowd, but also by the MSM. What' seven MORE remarkable is that the MSM studiously ignores the fact that Obama has kept spending under control better than any POTUS since Eisenhower, allowing it to increase by only 1.4% per year on average...compared to Reagan and Dubya, who average over 8%, Bush 1 at over 4% and Clinton at over 3%. You may now return to your regularly scheduled echo chamber screeching.

    February 20, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Bev

    people only remember the good times under clinton but if you will really think about it toward the end of clintons term things were starting to turn downward

    February 20, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    Bev, honey. To be clear, all that "suffering of the consequences" mantra has been around since ... well, since Reagan first decided to trickle us down into the gutter of economic doo-doo. Oops, my bad. Economic voodoo.

    February 20, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Sequestration is Washington's default to not having the backbone for tough decisions. Let's face it .... it's the politician's way of "eventually making those decisions" without putting their neck on the chopping block. It's "safe" and allows them to direct the blame elsewhere. Who's to blame? EVERY ONE OF THEM FROM THE PRESIDENT ON DOWN.

    February 20, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
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