The GOP strategy was simple: give up on the debt ceiling fight and save the heavy artillery for the sequester. If the president can’t come to terms acceptable to the Republicans in the House, then the calendar will cut government spending.
So, what does the president want? Less cuts and more taxes, just like I knew he would. The Washington Times reports:
Warning of serious repercussions for the economy and the military if Congress fails to halt the next round of $85 billion in budget cuts next month, President Obama on Tuesday called for replacing the automatic spending “sequesters” with a vague mix of smaller cuts and more tax increases…
He couched his remarks in such a way to make it appear that it all rests on Congress:
If [Congress] can’t get a bigger package done by the time the sequester is scheduled to go into effect, then I believe they should at least pass a smaller package. There is no reason that the jobs of thousands of Americans who work in national security or education or clean energy — not to mention the growth of the entire economy — should be put in jeopardy.
House Speaker John Boehner, still smarting over his loss of credibility over his fiscal cliff cave-in and his near-loss of his position as Speaker, is standing firm, at least in words:
President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law. Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense. We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes.
The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the same thing:
If Democrats have ideas for smarter cuts, they should bring them up for debate. But the American people will not support more tax hikes in place of the meaningful spending reductions both parties already agreed to and the president signed into law.
And so the war of words picks up again. Words, words, words. They’re focusing on the minuscule, the irrelevant, the silly. It’s politics at its best.