Debate ensues on day one of forced spending cuts
March 2nd, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Debate ensues on day one of forced spending cuts

Washington (CNN) – They argued over the forced spending cuts known as sequestration before those cuts took effect, and on the first full day of the cuts being official, Congress and the White House are still bickering over who is to blame.

“It’s happening because Republicans in Congress chose this outcome over closing a single wasteful tax loophole that helps reduce the deficit,” President Barack Obama said in his weekly address on Saturday.

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Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington state, countered, “This week, the president traveled 180 miles to Newport News, Virginia, instead of traveling one and a half miles to Senator Harry Reid’s office on Capitol Hill to negotiate a replacement of smarter spending cuts.”

Obama signed an order enacting the cuts Friday evening as required by law, triggering $85 million in cuts to federal spending this year as part of a larger $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade.

Officials have said that amounts to 9% in cuts to defense programs and 13% cuts to nondefense spending.

The law requires the cuts to hit nearly every account – meaning, as the Obama administration has argued, that an agency head can’t spare the budget for payroll by gutting the budget for uniforms, for example.

Obama described the cuts as “dumb, arbitrary” on Friday, and in his Saturday address he explained some of the ways the effects will be felt as they ripple across the economy.

“Beginning this week, businesses that work with the military will have to lay folks off,” Obama said. “Communities near military bases will take a serious blow. Hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country – Border Patrol agents, FBI agents, civilians who work for the Defense Department – will see their wages cut and their hours reduced.”

He acknowledged “not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away,” and the cuts aren’t expected to deal a fatal blow to the economy. But the cuts will be real and felt in paychecks around the country, he said.

Obama met in the White House on Friday with congressional leaders of both parties, though that meeting came too late to reach a deal to avoid the cuts. But lawmakers could take action in the coming weeks to pay down the cuts in other ways.

The president argues that plan should involve additional tax revenue. He proposes eliminating certain tax loopholes, meaning additional revenue while, in a technical sense, not increasing tax rates.

“I still believe we can and must replace these cuts with a balanced approach – one that combines smart spending cuts with entitlement reform and changes to our tax code that make it more fair for families and businesses without raising anyone’s tax rates,” he said. “That’s how we can reduce our deficit without laying off workers, or forcing parents and students to pay the price.”

But Republicans oppose that route.

“We can’t let Washington continue spending money it doesn’t have, especially when it’s taking that money straight from your wallets,” McMorris Rodgers said. “The problem here isn’t a lack of taxes. ... Spending is the problem, which means cutting spending is the solution. It’s that simple.”

House Republicans have put forward plans with targeted cuts, as opposed to the broad cuts of the sequester. Some have compared the difference to a scalpel and meat cleaver.

“In the last year, the House of Representatives has passed two proposals to replace the president’s sequester with smarter spending cuts. Our plans cut government waste and make long-term reforms that put us on a path to a balanced budget,” McMorris Rodgers said. “In addition, we are looking at ways to close tax loopholes and clean up our tax code so we can lower rates and help create jobs. These ideas get government out of the way so we can bring jobs home and preserve the American Dream.”

Regardless of their rhetoric, the cuts are taking effect and no deal appears to be on the horizon to enact cuts more palatable to both sides of the aisle.

Filed under: Budget • Cathy McMorris Rodgers • Deficit • President Obama
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Donkey Party

    We have a revenue AND a spending problem, but the GOP's insistence to do nothing about the revenue problem, is the problem.

    March 2, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  2. MaryM

    2014 cant arrive fast enough to vote these obstructionist repubs out of office. First to go is the tea people and McConnell and Boehner.
    The majority of Americans know the repubs are to blame for the sequester

    March 2, 2013 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  3. candice

    Yes the GOP wants to close loopholes. They want to take away the mortgage exemption for your home. While the Dems want to take away the exemption for your private jet. Now which one is for the middle class?

    March 2, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. Donna

    The Obama Sequester came because YOU suggested it and YOU signed it into law. Obama has made it crystal clear at this point that he only intends to raise taxes and grow government while only TALKING about spending cuts. Well now you get to show us all if you know how to govern because to date you have totally failed at it. The American people are tired of all your lies and threats. Stop the campaigning and celebrity tour and do the job you were elected to do.

    March 2, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. we are not fools

    Republicans threw Democrats and Obama TWO lifelines many months ago but they refused to act on them. Now they want to blame others for something Obama suggested, the Democrat Senate approved and Obama signed into law? Seriously?? The Democrats and Obama need to stop all this lying. They are looking like dishonest crooks that take the American people for idiots.

    March 2, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. CAWinMD

    Yes, Republicans, you passed two bills LAST YEAR. In the 112th Congress. Which means those bills are no longer valid - they died with the 112th Congress. So rephrasing what Ms. McMorris Rodgers said "House Republicans have passed nothing in the 113th Congress that addresses this issue, because cuts, even dumb cuts, are better than no cuts."

    That at least would be intellectually honest.

    March 2, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  7. Ed1

    If you didn't want the cuts to happen why did you, the House, and the Senate sign it.

    The Government spends way to much and if you close loop holes and tax the rich at 100% that still wouldn't put a dent in our debt you have to stop spending what you don't have like us you tax to death already.

    You would think that the so called smart people you have around you and yourself included would know this but I guess you like the Clinton math spend until you can't borrow any more.

    You ere re-elected and so was the House to stop your out of control spending and give always that cost us tax payers BILLIONS of dollars every month.

    March 2, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  8. Mike Texoma

    What Representative Rogers does not like is that this president will go over the heads of the Congress – to the people He will tell them what is going on in her party, which is what a majority of the people do not want. She does not want to have to answer to the people so she finds fault with the president for doing so. And she expects that to work?.

    March 2, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. Jim


    Obama lied, tax payers cried

    March 2, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Tony

    So, Republicans, what do you believe? Is the sequester a threat to national security, as Boehner said? Or do you think that Obama is exaggerating the effects of the sequester?

    March 2, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    It's happening, Mr. President because the media once again fooled we the people into bickering among ourselves. All in all, Corporate America made out nicely. CEO's made out nicely. Mitt Romney made out nicely. Speaking of Mitt. Just think how much WORSE this could have been. Chop away, Grand Old Party. Each and every cut means a vote against your party ideology similar to how each and every insult meant a vote against Mitt Romney during the national election. Those votes add up. They always to. Against the Grand Old Party. Not for it.

    March 2, 2013 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. RomneyWho

    Washington the joke of ages. why is it that the people who can't afford to suffer always and forever taking the hit for the guilty rich and powerful, the very one's that cause this mess. Something is very wrong here . . . I'm just saying 🙁

    March 2, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |