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Sequester blame game continues days before deadline

Less than one week before the so-called sequester imposes $120 billion in automatic cuts to federal spending, GOP lawmakers and the president are still juggling blame, with each side slamming the other for the failure to secure a deal.

In his weekly address Saturday, President Obama tried to back Republicans into a corner. "These cuts don't have to happen," he explained. "Congress can turn them off any time with just a little compromise."

"Unfortunately," he continued, "it appears that Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of compromising — instead of asking anything of the wealthiest Americans — they would rather let these cuts fall squarely on the middle class."

"Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids' schools and mental-health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners?" He asked. "Are they seriously prepared to inflict more pain on the middle class because they refuse to ask anything more of those at the very top?

"These are the questions Republicans in Congress need to ask themselves," Mr. Obama said. "And I'm hopeful they'll change their minds."

Not so fast, say Republicans who blame the sequester — and the government's inability to replace it — squarely on the White House.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., delivering the Republican address this week, argued that "It was President Obama who proposed — and promoted — the sequester."

"The fact is: Republicans in Congress, right now, will provide the flexibility to make the necessary spending reductions and address our deficit and debt, instead of going through the sequester." Hoeven said. "In fact, House Republicans have already passed two bills to replace the president's sequester."

"So the question is: Why won't he work with us? And the answer, quite simply, is because he wants higher taxes."

Hoeven also lit into the president for "preventing economic growth and private sector job creation," singling out the administration's delayed decision on the Keystone XL pipeline as an example.

"Why, Mr. President, are you blocking a project that the American people support overwhelmingly?" Hoeven asked.

"Clearly, it appears to be because of special interest groups," he said, pressuring the president to ignore "Hollywood activists" opposed to the project and approve the Keystone XL to create more jobs.

"It's time to do things differently, Mr. President," Hoeven said.