With just a little over a week to avert them, it appears increasingly likely thewill go into effect. That's left House Speaker John Boehner trading blame with the White House for the stalemate.
Boehner penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday evening called, "The President Is Raging Against a Budget Crisis He Created." He blasted President Obama for Republicans for failing to avert t
he sequester. Mr. Obama yesterday said that "Republicans have a choice" between putting the economy at risk, for the sake of protecting special interests, and compromising to protect investments in things like health care and national security.
However, in his op-ed, Boehner charged that the public "might not realize from Mr. Obama's statements is that [the sequester] is a product of the president's own failed leadership."
The $1.2 trillion sequester cuts, which were initially set to kick in on Jan. 1, emerged out of Congress' 2011 budget negotiations. Congress agreed that if a congressional "supercommittee" couldn't come up with an acceptable deficit reduction plan, Congress would just slash $1.2 trillion from the budget over 10 years -- half coming from defense spending and half from non-defense. Nearly everyone in Washington agrees that indiscriminately slashing $1.2 trillion would damage the economy, but lawmakers can't agree on a deficit reduction package with which to replace the cuts.
Given the economic damage the sequester would inflict, Congress this year stalled the cuts for two months -- which is why they're set to go into effect in March. Unless Congress acts in the next week and a half, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will kick in this year.
Boehner argues, "There is nothing wrong with cutting spending that much--we should be cutting even more--but the sequester is an ugly and dangerous way to do it."
Boehner also blamed Mr. Obama for insisting on inserting the "sequester" plan into the 2011 budget deal. Originally, the speaker said Congress wanted a plan to stop debt limit increases if the "supercommittee" failed. "But President Obama," Boehner charged, "was determined not to face another debt-limit increase before his re-election campaign. Having just blown up one deal, the president scuttled this bipartisan, bicameral agreement. His solution? A sequester."
Boehner said that Republicans are unwilling to agree to any more tax hikes in any plan to avert the sequester. "Mr. President, we agree that your sequester is bad policy," he wrote. "What spending are you willing to cut to replace it?"
The White House was quick to respond, with White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer calling Boehner's op-ed "an amazing act of revisionist history."
In a White House blog post, Pfeiffer notes said, "it was the Speaker who praised the sequester at the time." He notes that Boehner, in a 2011 interview with CBS News, said of the budget deal, "When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I'm pretty happy."
He also noted that the 2011 deal passed in the GOP-led House of Representatives with the, including Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Pfeiffer points out that both Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats have put forward plans to avert the sequester and blasted Republicans for their resolute objections to closing any tax loopholes. He challed congressional Republicans to vote once more on the legislation the GOP passed last year to avert the sequester.
"Where is the Republican plan? The GOP bill expired," he wrote. "If they're confident the draconian cuts will win support in Congress and more importantly - with the American people -- they should bring it up for a vote."