Obama Finally Meets with Congressional Leaders About Sequestration
With $85 billion in mandatory budget cuts looming, President Barack Obama has asked to meet with GOP Congressional leaders.
This will be their first face-to-face meeting on the sequester, despite knowing for two months it was coming. If no solution is found, the budget cuts will go into effect Friday at midnight.
House Speaker John Boehner and other leaders have been pressuring Obama to sit down with them to hammer out an alternative but the president has chosen to deliver speech after speech blaming the GOP and Congress for the problem.
The sequester was actually Obama's idea. In 2011 he signed an act that would create the cuts in an effort to press the federal government into finding ways to cut back on spending. The sequester was supposed to be the fiscal cliff that motivated the government to put in place policies that would keep the country from hitting a financial wall. It was as if they were saying, "Find cuts, alternatives, pass a budget, or else face this financial cliff if you don't."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky says the meeting will be too little, too late. What are the sticking points? According to the Washington Times:
The White House said it would not accept spending cuts without revenue increases from eliminating certain tax breaks. Republican leaders said they will not agree to raising more tax revenue, and called on the administration to commit to real spending cuts."
The Times also reports the sequester could have been avoided by way of proposals from the House of Representatives -- something that has not been widely reported in the media:
The House passed two measures last year that would have replaced the sequester, for example, by sparing the Defense Department from cuts and instead targeting programs such as food stamps. Senate Democrats refused to consider the measures."
The President wants another $580 billion in tax revenues by what he calls closing "loopholes" on wealthy citizens and ending tax breaks for oil companies. The GOP counters they gave enough increases already in January when rates rose sharply for people with household incomes of $450,000 or higher, and everyone in America who has a job saw their payroll taxes rise by 2 percent.
Senate leader McConnell perhaps put it best when he directed this blast at the president:
'Surely, you can find a little more than 2 percent to cut from the federal budget... And surely you can do it without raining down a phony Armageddon on American families. They had to find ways to cope with 2 percent less in their paychecks last month after the payroll tax went back up. Why can’t Washington? The time for games is over.”