Spending cut squabbling turns to blame game
February 20th, 2013
10:45 AM ET
5 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. The Real Tom Paine

    The GOP's attitude has always been, " So what?". They have never assumed responsibility for anything they have done, no matter how glaring the failure. When they run around attempting to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy as a heroic figure, then you know we are dealing with a group of moral paupers. They simply don't care about anyone, and they use the Constitution, Bible and the Flag alternately as punchlines and excuses for inaction. The " Do-nothing, Know-nothing" party.

    February 20, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. NickAnast

    "I got 98% of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy." - John Boehner, after the deal creating the Sequester was announced.

    February 20, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. sonny chapman

    Taxes will destroy the American Economy. Look what happened when Bill Clinton was Prez.

    February 20, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  4. rob

    The Whitehouse, the Dems in Congress and the media are getting desperate now. The only way for them to increase taxes is to have the GOP sign on, otherwise they will not ask their members to vote for tax increase on their own. The Dems have not outlined any specific plans to controll the massive deficits and debt other than to ask for more taxes to pay for them. They are not serious.

    The Republicans have already given in to tax increses, they should stand firm and allow the Whitehouse deal with the fallout of the "Sequestration cuts" to the Military etc.

    February 20, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    NickAnast hit the nail on the head:

    "I got 98% of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy." – John Boehner, after the deal creating the Sequester was announced.
    Exactly. And Mr. Boehner was pretty proud of himself as he so effortlessly gloated over those words.

    February 20, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Republican/Tea Party and conservative media outlets like Fox (faux news) cannot trick the American public into believing President Obama is to blame for sequestration. Repubican/Tea Party unwillingness to compromise is the real culprit. Republican/Tea Party politicians should be wary...voters will hold them responsible.

    February 20, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. AlbannachMN

    This is quite sad. BOTH sides voted for the sequester, it is not Obama's sequeater and it is not Boehner's sequester. The Republicans failed to come up with a plan and told the Democrats to do it. They did and then the Republicans said no way! At least the Democrats are in the game, it's time the Republicans got involved. The sequester will be extremely bad for the economy, the recovery and most importantly people's jobs and ability to provide for their families. Congress is made up of the 1% who are not concerned about these problems in a real way.

    February 20, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. Just a Guy

    So, the Republicans said we have to stop spending money we don't have, and the Democrats said the Republicans are just being Republicans and aren't serious about closing tax loopholes for the rich. The Republican solution is to stop spending because we don't have any money. The Democratic solution is to keep spending because we have plenty of money. Both cannot be right. Which one makes more sense?

    Let it hit on March 1st. Better sooner than later. I'm ready for it. Personally, I can't wait until there are a lot of people hurting. I don't care if they blame the Republicans or the Democrats or both. It'll force the problem to get fixed. We can't keep going on with the blame game. Someone will have to step up and be the hero and fix the problem. That'll be the guy that wins.

    February 20, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. AlbannachMN

    sonny chapman

    Taxes will destroy the American Economy. Look what happened when Bill Clinton was Prez.

    Actually we di quite well when Clinton was POTUS. Even had a budget surplus.

    February 20, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Sasha

    This is the one thing remember during this hullabaloo: The only reason the sequester was proposed was because the House GOP held the country hostage by threatening to crash the economy and, not content with the spending cuts they already extracted, demanded a bigger ransom. For Boehner to blame Obama for the upcoming cuts is akin to a extortionist berating his victim for paying up.

    (And let's not forget that the sequester passed in the House with only GOP votes. No Democrat voted for it.)

    February 20, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Pete

    It's funny how republicans won't take responsibility for the sequester they created and passed but its been that way for years hasn't it!!Now backed into a political corner Boehner and company are running out of options and the life line in the teaparty is being yanked in isn't it boys!!Come midterms if something here in equal cuts to spending,revenue increases isn't agreed upon congress will be held wholly responsible and they know it..Pres.Obama the chess player he is just laid out the rope and you white ignorent ole racist reps just couldn't wait to wrap it around your political necks and now that its getting tight you have no where to go right!So come midterms guys,gals say goodbye to Boehner,Cantor,McConnell and crew because they'll all be gone and the only adults that'll be there are the ones that were there originally but were held captive by the republican majority,now we'll see something progressive get done or else won't we people!!It's always been democrates fixing republicans debacles hasn't it from Hoover to your Bushs,all inccompetent,all republicans,all factually recorded for all to read!!

    February 20, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. Guest

    What may be most alarming is that the president doesnt realize everything he has stated publicly has been recorded. To ignore all of his previous statements and accept his ever changing postion based upon the prevailing political crisis suggests that we simply cant believe anything he says. Why are so many falling for this nonsense? He is a fraud.

    February 20, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. NickAnast

    rob: "The Dems have not outlined any specific plans to controll the massive deficits and debt other than to ask for more taxes to pay for them."
    What planet do you live on? Obama and the Dems have proposed $54 billion in new revenues by closing tax loopholes and eliminating certain corporate subsidies along with $54 billion in spending cuts split evenly between defense and domestic programs. That's $108 billion in deficit reduction, which more than offsets the $85 billion Sequester.

    February 20, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. rob


    "The Republicans failed to come up with a plan and told the Democrats to do it. They did and then the Republicans said no way! At least the Democrats are in the game, it's time the Republicans got involved."

    The Republicans have been passing Budgets and plans to rescue Medicare etc. Wheather you agree with teir plans or not they have been "In it" since they took over the House. Conversely, the Senat Democrats have not even brought up or voted on a real budget for almost 4 YEARS. The President has yet to come up with any real proposal to deal with the spending cuts he has said are needed.

    Democrats don't think we have a problem with spending they think we need to pay for the spending but they won't be honest about the enormous tax increases needed to pay for it.

    February 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. nothing new here

    800,000 defense workers may be losing their jobs.
    This is sad, and I really do feel for these people.
    But we can thank our goofy leaders for this travesty. There was no reason to build up all this military might to begin with. Unless those troops are protecting OUR land and people, then this money can no longer be spent.
    Libertarians and other free-thinking people have warned about this for years. Ron Paul even said this was going to be happening. We need a strong nation, but we need to preserve our infrastructure and OUR freedoms.

    February 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. Don

    It is time for President Obama to step down.....he has not kept one promise for his first term as President and has proven himself ineffective at Leadership then and again now. Obama spent more in his first 4 year term then Bush spent in 8 years. Now he wants to spend that much or more again. Plus tax the middle class more. Obama has proven time and again not to be upholding his Oath to protect and preserve the Constitution. Yes it is time for him to either step aside or be impeached. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

    February 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. Rob

    Taxes are Redistribution

    No more taxes!

    February 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Chuck Irving

    The POTUS has consistently made grandiose "deals" with Congress and then later point a finger at them in massive blame. He NEVER owns up to promises he repeatedly made to cut a runaway deficit, stimulate small business and hiring or restore faith in the American Dream.

    Instead, he engages in pontificating on how "the other party" did this and that. If he runs his own personal household the way he is running our country, the local Sheriff would have foreclosed on his house and put everything he's worked for in Bankruptcy Court.

    Yet this is exactly what he is preaching to the American people with his cronies Reid and Pelosi. I have NEVER seen anyone take so little responsibility for what he's done. Remember people, we are 16.5T in debt and unemployment is still near 8%.

    I wish he'd just go away and let professionals do what they do – run the country to a surplus, restore hope in our unique American heritage and show the world that totalitarian or socialist regimes are no match for OUR system of democracy.

    Perhaps Hugo Chavez would finally disown him as his favorite son.

    February 20, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  19. Just a Guy

    You guys blaming one side or the other are so off base. You need to sit back and figure why you actually care which side wins the argument. For some reason, politics as turned personal. The reason, of course, is money. Those without it, want it. Those with it, want to keep it. Right? Actually, WRONG!!! The reason, of course, is really POWER. Right now, the Democrats have it and want to keep it. They have convinced their POWERbase that the issue is money. Take MONEY out of the equation and see where solving this problem goes.

    February 20, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "The Republicans have already given in to tax increses"

    No they haven't. What they did was finally stepout of the way and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire LIKE THEY WERE WRITTEN, PROMISED AND LEGALLY REQUIRED TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    BTW, if you don't understand that they were legally required to expire when enacted because the GOP shoved them downt he country's throat by using reconciliation to prevent the Dems from blocking them, then you're not paying attention.

    February 20, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Pete

    @sonny Chapman,I hope you're being sarcastic because under no republican president have we had such a healthy,robust economy,with millions of jobs being filled,worked,with plenty of revenues coming in because everyone was employed unless you didn't want to be!!And after Clinton left office he left a surplus budget wise something no president republican or not has ever done,so read up if you were serious because republican posters here = ignorence and most of us are tired of correcting them as well!!

    February 20, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  22. nothing new here

    As far as tax loopholes – start closing them NOW.
    Everyone should pay a little something, that includes the super-rich and churches.
    Pay up!

    February 20, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Let us not forget that Pres. Obama and Spkr Boehner had spent more than a week haggling over a multi-trillion dollar deal, which was a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. The Republican House summarily rejected the deal, not even allowing it to come up for a vote, because the deal contained that bad word, "revenue".

    And along came the sequestration idea. Both sides are equally to blame for it's inception. Both sides wanted to win big in 2012 and re-legislate the cuts more to their liking. Niether side gained a decisive upper hand in Congress. Now, we are at the point of who's trying to negotiate in good faith, and who's trying to pretend they're negotiating in good faith. All I'm going to say on the "good faith" issue is that Republicans have been predicting the hammer falling for weeks now.

    February 20, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. MTATL67

    Congressional Republicans are self delusional. Their lack of action and obstructionist agenda continues and the think that they will be rewarded in the next election. Who ever came up with their strategy is a moron considering they got trounced in the last election.

    February 20, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. Rick McDaniel

    That blame game is totally a LIE on Obama's part. Obama was the person who created the sequester........he thought he would win control of the house, and then he would just print money AGAIN!

    Didn't happen, so now he has no more money to squander, and that's all he knows how to do.........so he feels LOST, because he can't spend.

    February 20, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
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