Congress Appears Ready To Let Sequester Hit
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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of thousands of jobs across America, including many in the Sunshine State, hang in the balance as Congress refuses to consider any compromise deal to avert the cuts contained in the sequester.
The sequester is a combination of automatic cuts to both domestic and defense spending. It was approved on a bipartisan basis by both houses of Congress as a way to force the supercommittee to agree to debt reduction last year. The super committee failed and the sequester is set to kick in next week.
Tuesday, President Barack Obama, who signed the sequester into law, was highly critical of what he called Congress’ “meat cleaver approach” to reduce the deficit. Obama’s comments Tuesday were an attempt to try to kick-start negotiations to mix spending cuts and revenue increases to avert the sequester.
However, Republicans have said they would rather allow the sequester to go into place to secure spending cuts than allow any revenue increases through closing tax loopholes or tax increases on the wealthy.
The White House has said the sequester could have a major impact on a variety of critical government services and social programs to help those who need it. In addition, the White House said the sequester could put thousands out of work during a time of extremely fragile economic recovery.
The White House specifically warned that the cuts: will reduce loan guarantees to small businesses; end Head Start funding for 70,000 children; leave 373,000 seriously mental ill people without treatment; lead to fewer food inspections; eliminate grants for firefighters and emergency personnel, according to thehill.com.
Republicans plan to try to lay the entire sequester and its related deep spending cuts at the feet of President Obama. However, there is a cognitive dissonance in the Republicans’ plan to blame Obama for the spending cuts.
If the spending cuts are the best thing for the U.S. economy in the long-term, why would the Republicans need to try to shift blame for them onto Obama instead of embracing the deep spending cuts the GOP has sought.
Overall, according to the Washington Post, Obama wants a combination of spending cuts in automatic programs like Medicare and Medicaid along with new tax revenue generated by “scaling back tax breaks that benefit the wealthy and select industries, such as energy firms.”
Obama has also argued for a short-term measure to at least delay the sequester. Senate Democrats proposed a similar program that would use alternative cuts and tax hikes to postpone the sequester through the end of the year.
According to the Washington Post, economists have estimated that 750,000 jobs could be lost as a result of the deep spending cuts.