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article imageObama meets congressional leaders — No sequester deal

By Karl Gotthardt     Mar 1, 2013 in Politics
Washington - President Obama met with congressional leaders and when they emerged from the meeting, the president announced that no deal had been reached. President Obama blamed Republicans for failing to agree to additional revenue.
The president said that Republicans in the Senate faced a choice to grow the economy and reduce our deficit, but chose to cut vital services for children, seniors and the men and women in uniform. Republicans chose not to close a single tax loop hole, which benefits the rich and well connected.
The president said that he believed that the majority of the American people agree with him and that he understands the pressure Speaker Boehner faces when dealing with his own caucus. The sequestration, which the president has to put into effect before midnight today, will cut $85 billion of discretionary spending, half of which will be defense spending. The sequester deal was reached as part of the debt ceiling talks 18 months ago and was thought to ensure Congress would act, due to the drastic cuts, especially to defense spending. No one has acted or budged on he sequester deal in the interim.
The House and Senate, yesterday voted on legislation, which was defeated in both chambers. After yesterday's vote the White House released a statement. , contained comments similar to the presidents' press briefing this morning.
I believe we should do better. We should work together to reduce our deficit in a balanced way – by making smart spending cuts and closing special interest tax loopholes. That’s exactly the kind of plan Democrats in the Senate have proposed. But even though a majority of Senators support this approach, Republicans have refused to allow it an up-or-down vote – threatening our economy with a series of arbitrary, automatic budget cuts that will cost us jobs and slow our recovery.
Republicans have said that the president has already received his tax hikes as part of the fiscal cliff deal reached in late December. That deal eliminated the Bush tax cuts for those making above $450,000 and eliminated the payroll tax holiday.
As reported in Digital Journal yesterday, Bob Woodward, a well respected journalist asserted that the deal reached to avoid the fiscal cliff included a an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on.
Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-Nev.]. They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.
According to CBC News Obama said that he would continue to reach out to Republicans during the coming days and weeks.
Obama repeated his estimates that the sequester could cost the economy 750,000 jobs and could slow growth. He made reference to teachers only teaching military children for four days due the Pentagon's measure to furlough employees for a day week and alluded to 10% cuts in pay for border patrol agents.
During an interview with NBC's David Gregory, which is to be aired on Meet the Press on Sunday,
, Speaker John Boehner described the discussions during the meeting with President Obama as nice and polite. Boehner said that despite the polite atmosphere at the meeting he once again asked the Senate Majority Leader and the president to come up with plan to avert the sequester.
We’ve known about this for 16 months. And yet, even today, there’s no plan from Senate Democrats or the White House to replace the sequester,” Boehner said. “And over the last 10 months, House Republicans have acted twice to replace the sequester.”
The sequester is only part of the continuing crisis between Congress and the White House. A continuing budget resolution has to be agreed on by March 27 and then in April the fiasco of a debt ceiling debate will be front and center again.
Republicans keep pointing out that the Democratic Senate has not passed a budget during the past four years, which is partly why the continuing resolution needs to be addressed each year.
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